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3 Huge ‘Checking In’ Travel Tips

checkinWith The 5th Annual Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show returning to the San Francisco area February 5th through the 7th, I thought I’d throw out some travel tips for my peeps based on my own traveling experiences.

You may be wondering how I qualify as an expert in this field and I’ll just say this:

In the last 25 years, I have taken over 1100 flights, stayed in over 500 hotels, rented over 75 cars, 3 long distance bus trips, 2 train rides and stayed in 2 Bed and Breakfast joints throughout 11 countries. Will that due?



I found something the hard way and I want to save you some grief. When you check in for your flight, you are telling the airline that you are 100% certain that you will be on that flight. The phrase “Check In” was created at the actual location in the past because you were letting the airline know you were “in”; you were “there”; you were ready to get on the plane.

Now-a-days, for convenience, passengers have the ability to “Check in” even when they’re NOT “in”. Unfortunately, the airline and their reservation system doesn’t have any flexibility here, so wherever you check in from, if you do not make it to your flight, there are no late fees, discounts or penalties–your ticket is just cancelled. No refund either. And to travel that day to your original destination, you have to purchase a brand new ticket–with same day expensive pricing.

A few years back, I checked in from home on one occasion and got stuck in a four hour parking lot on the freeway because there was a fatal accident 10 miles in front of me. I missed my flight and got on another one two hours later. For $1240.00.

My Advice: If you want to avoid the check in lines at the airport, check in from your Smartphone when you’re on the Parking Shuttle, already at the airport.



I don’t know why people don’t do this but I find this small tip to be successful almost 50% of the time when I’m renting a car.

Ask for the upgrade!

You’re at the counter, they’re checking your license and running your credit card, in a friendly, playful manner say, “Hey by the way, I want to thank you so much for the free upgrade. That was really cool of you.”

They will laugh. Don’t take it wrong. If you do it right, they’re not laughing at you, they’re laughing because they thought your comment was fun.

If you have been pleasant with the clerk and they feel moved by your personality, you are going to hear many of them say, “Ya know what? I may have something available.”

Know This: Most of these employees are given the power to make upgrade decisions. They don’t just give upgrades to frequent renters or unhappy folks, they also give them away as a blessing at times.

Show off your pearly whites and give them a reason to bless you.



Just like rent-a-car employees, hotel staff has the freedom to provide upgrades as well. Every shift, front desk clerks are given a certain amount of “strokes” that they can pass on to people like you and me.

The same approach I used at the rent-a-car place works for hotels as well. “By the way, I really appreciate you upgrading our room to a suite. It’s reasons like that I love this hotel so much.”

On a different note, if you don’t like the room the hotel randomly selected for you…you’re not stuck with it. Even if you call down to the desk and they tell you they are overbooked, you can still get the satisfaction you’re looking for. You just need to know the back story.

Back Story: Most hotels are never sold out. Not literally anyway. They have a “sold out” status when a certain amount of rooms are occupied but they always leave extras for high rollers or ‘never know’ type of situations.

Knowing this, if you don’t like you’re room, you don’t have to settle for their excuses that make you feel like you’re stuck. Tell them this is unacceptable and you want a different room. If they try to downgrade you to a worse room, tell them that you want to walk the available room options with a manager until you find one you like.

I know, I know, you sound like a spoiled Beverly Hills brat! But it rarely gets to that point. Most decent hotels will make you happy without you having to show your spoiled side.

Just don’t settle for their first comments. I don’t want to call them “liars” but most of them are trained to pass along a little loving deception. You’re dropping $200+ per night to sleep in the same room that hundreds of strangers occupied in the last 12 months. Make sure you get what you want.

I hope that you found these tips helpful.

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Las Vegas Lodging Cost Cutter

Treasure Island

Treasure Island (ti) is only one cross-bridge away from The Sands Convention Center.

The Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada is home to countless expos every year. Frequently, because of the many different expo halls it offers, multiple conventions are put on in this show place at the same time.  For those who don’t know, The Sands connects directly to The Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas “Strip”.

For convenience, but also sometimes because of lack of knowledge, many exhibitors and attendees that come to the shows, book their lodging at The Venetian.  People can keep everything in one place, don’t have to pay for cabs or walk long city blocks in the windy cold or draining heat (depending on what time of year you attend).  Not to mention, the rooms are very nice and the hotel has pretty much everything you need built into it–from restaurants to gift shops to entertainment.  You basically never have to leave.

I used to come to town twice a year for conventions at The Sands. I came with a partner and brought a team.  I’m not gonna lie, if money wasn’t a factor, I would have stayed at the Venetian every time I came. I really like the hotel. Unfortunately, when considering costs for me and staff members, it made no sense when there was another option that cut costs almost in half, and was in walking distance from The Sands.

Treasure Island, or as it’s called in it’s new and improved, trendy title, “ti”.

When you walk out the front door of ti, you walk a short distance to a foot bridge that goes over the Las Vegas strip and into The Venetian.  Once inside, you follow the casino carpet around a bit until you enter The Sands Convention Center.  Even if you’re carrying heavy bags of merchandising, lap tops or walking in high heels, it’s a very do-able adventure that saves your company money.

It also gives you a place away from all the action if you feel like you want to escape once in a while.  Obviously, we attend these events to network, mingle and make new connections. But when you’re staying in the hotel where the show is and the place that most of the attendees are staying, you can never escape if you do decide you want a breather. Treasure Island doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles as The Venetian, but it’s clean, it has a couple great restaurants and as I mentioned, very affordable.

Unlike most hotels and resorts who change their rates based on seasons and prime calendar dates, Las Vegas changes their rates daily based on events.  You can stay at almost any top shelf hotel and casino on the strip for $99-$149 on a night when there is nothing special going on during the week.  However, if that same hotel books Celine Dion to sing in their theater the very next night, those same rooms could cost you $299-$499. I believe that a similar pricing structure is put in place at hotels during big conventions that come to town.

Getting back to Venetian vs. Treasure Island, let’s look at the current rate structure that they are both advertising right now on their websites:

  • Advertised Weekday Rates, standard room, 1 king, The Venetian: $149 to $599
  • Advertised Weekday Rates, standard room, 1 king, Treasure Island: $59 to $279
  • Advertised Weekend Rates, standard room, 1 king, The Venetian: $309 to $339
  • Advertised Weekend Rates, standard room, 1 king, Treasure Island: $247 to $292

I find it interesting that the weekend rates at the Venetian never get higher than $339 a night.  However, there are scattered days throughout the next month where their weekday rates soar to $599 a night.  Regardless, as you can see, there is a considerable difference in price and Treasure Island frequently has specials that make longer stays more attractive.

Finally, once you arrive to whichever hotel you choose, never be too embarrassed to ask for a free upgrade.  Hotel clerks have a lot more power than they may admit and the worse they can say is, “no”.  My wife and I always have a pleasant conversation with front desk clerks when we travel and we always ask for a free upgrade.  More then HALF of the time we ask, we get ’em!  Try it.