Tag Archives: smart travel

Panoramic view of Fortresses Lovrijenac and old town of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Where and When to Travel in 2024

We are continually updating this article, as the travel landscapes shifts, to alert you to your smartest moves in 2024.

5/15/24 Take advantage of low business-class airfare to Europe for fall and winter 
4/10/24 New international nonstop flights to make your travels easier
4/7/24  It’s now easier to pool your family’s airline miles
3/27/24 Think South America for this summer (winter in the southern hemisphere)
3/17/24 Right now you can get your passport renewed in just 2 to 3 weeks
3/13/24 Get to Thailand before the White Lotus crowds do
2/20/24 How the Olympics could affect your travels: Paris this spring and summer
2/17/24 Five great spring break ideas that combine relaxation, culture, and thrills
1/21/24  Why you should go to Europe this winter (before the spring/summer rush)
1/17/24  The key to big family trips in 2024
1/10/24  How to maximize your vacations this year
1/7/24  Spring break: Unexpected places where prices are not inflated in March/April
1/3/24  Wendy’s 2024 travel resolutions
11/8/23  Save on business-class airfares to Europe for 2024
10/29/23  How to ensure rain doesn’t ruin a winter trip
10/15/23 Time your African safari smartly to get the best value
10/22/23  How to travel safely now  
9/27/23  Europe in 2024:  Where and when you’ll find highest prices, worst crowds 
8/20/23  Europe’s high season is now May-Oct. Shoulder season is Nov-March.

Are you thinking about traveling in the Middle East?  Read these reports from WOW List travelers:
Just back from Egypt
Just back from Turkey
Just back from the U.A.E. and Oman
Just back from Dubai and the U.A.E.
Just back from Jordan and Oman
Just back from Morocco

Are you thinking about traveling near Ukraine? Read these reports from WOW List travelers:
Just back from Poland
Just back from Romania



This year is shaping up to be another huge one for international travel.  Travelers are booking trips farther in advance than in past years, and they’re headed to Western Europe in particular. We’re predicting that Europe’s most popular locales will be packed again this year, and that peak season will extend from late April through early October. Sadly, we’re not seeing any relief from the sticker shock that grew out of the post-Covid demand for travel, given the big events that will coincide with Europe’s summer season:  Add the Olympics in France (in July), the G7 Summit in Italy (in June), and Taylor Swift concerts all over the U.K. and Europe (from May through August) to the usual annual events in tennis (Wimbledon and the French Open), soccer (the Champions League), and Formula 1 racing.  If you’re seeking true value for your dollar, watch our WOW Week Travel Talk below (recorded on February 5, 2024), and read on to learn where and when to travel this year.

Fast-forward the video to 2:30 to skip the WOW Week preamble.  Scroll down for the list of the 20 most popular countries for 2024 that we refer to in our talk. 

SOUTH AMERICA: Get it all close to home. South America continues to be an underappreciated destination—even though it has both staggeringly beautiful and enormously varied landscapes, and a cultural fabric that weaves indigenous civilizations with colonial influences. Many destinations there are no farther from home than Europe is, and there’s little to no jet lag (a big plus if you’ve got school-aged kids and you’re traveling during a short school break such as Thanksgiving week or spring break). Brook shares discoveries from her January trip to Peru here. Read WOW South America trip reviews.

ASIA: Japan is back. After finally reopening its borders in late 2022, Japan was our travelers’ favorite spot in Asia in 2023. If you’re keen to go in 2024, keep in mind that 5-star hotel rates are particularly high for popular periods such as the spring cherry-blossom season. Compare that with China, where luxury brands often charge less than half what they do in Europe. Opportunities also abound in Sri Lanka, which still struggles to attract visitors even though the political situation has stabilized since 2022’s unrest. Read WOW Asia trip reviews.

PACIFIC: Consider Australia and New Zealand only if you can travel at off-peak times. These countries are our travelers’ top two destinations for 2024. If you’re still thinking about traveling there this year, look to the “shoulder seasons,” when the weather is still good but the crowds aren’t there and prices are a bit lower. The good news is that the U.S. dollar is very strong compared to its Australian and New Zealand counterparts, so prices are lower than they were pre-Covid. Read reviews from travelers just back from Australia and New Zealand.

EUROPE: Choose your timing wisely.
The high post-pandemic travel demand for Europe that we saw in 2023 taught travelers that if they want a certain caliber of accommodations and experiences there, they must book farther in advance than before. The result: More of Europe has already been booked for spring and summer than was ever the case in past years. This demand, exacerbated by inflation, will assure that prices remain steep there. If you’re bound and determined to see Europe’s most popular countries—especially Italy, France, and Greece—you’ll find the best value in under-the-radar locations. Experienced local trip-planning experts know which hotels and other service providers most successfully handled 2023’s flood of travelers and are therefore the best bets in 2024. If you can only travel in summer, which in 2023 saw extreme heat and wildfires in southern Europe, learn how our travelers beat the heat in 2023 (hint: stay close to the water) and where you can go to avoid the crowds. If your schedule is flexible, get ideas for successful winter trips here.

Opt for nonstop flights. Every connection creates an opportunity for something to go wrong: a missed flight, lost luggage, an inconvenient delay. The good news is that there are more and more flights from U.S. cities to interesting international locales. If a stop is essential, choose one of the smartest airports for making connections in, and get as close to your destination as you can, as quickly as you can. (In other words, if you’re flying to Croatia and have to connect somewhere, do it in Europe rather than in the U.S.) If you must make a domestic connection to an international flight, consider overnighting at the connection point. (For instance, if you’re flying to Africa via JFK, missing your connection could seriously disrupt your safari plans, so consider spending the night in New York.)

The larger your group, the earlier you need to plan. Since Covid we’ve seen travelers bring more family and friends along—often because they are celebrating a milestone like a graduation, or making memories as a clan of grandparents, their adult kids, and the grandkids. When you only need one hotel room, it’s usually possible to develop the ideal itinerary to suit your interests and trip goals, and then book suitable hotels. But when you need two or more rooms, you may have to patch together hotel availability wherever you can get it and let that dictate your schedule. With a multigenerational trip or other large group, booking early will maximize your options.

Buy travel insurance and evacuation assistance. It can protect your financial investment, cover any medical expenses, and give you peace of mind. If you’re sick or injured, the right travel insurance policy will cover your care at the nearest appropriate facility; you need a second layer of protection if you want to be treated at home.

These are the most popular countries in 2024 (as of January) for our travelers:
1. Italy
2. United Kingdom
3. France
4. New Zealand
5. Spain
6. Vietnam
7. Australia
8. Costa Rica
9. Norway
10. Portugal
11. Cambodia
12. Greece
13. Japan
14. South Africa
15. Ecuador (and the Galapagos)
16. Chile
17. Switzerland
18. Thailand
19. Argentina
20. Iceland


Links to Useful Resources

Just Back: Reviews of our Travelers’ Recent Trips

Where To Go When: Ideal Destinations For Each Month of the Year

Nonstop Flights To Make Your Travels Easier

The WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts


Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Brook posing above Lysefjord with snowy mountains in the background.

Live Answers to Your Travel Questions: Join Us on Zoom for WOW Week 2024, February 5–9

UPDATE: WOW Week 2024 is now over. Thank you all for joining us! We have posted the Zoom recordings below, in case you missed any talks or want to share them with your friends. Stay up to date by signing up for our newsletter



This year is shaping up to be another huge one for international travel.  We’re seeing more travelers booking trips farther in advance than in past years, as well as travelers taking more family and friends along.  Based on these bigger groups locking more trips in place earlier— especially to Western Europe—we’re predicting that Europe’s iconic locales, from Italy’s Amalfi Coast to the Greek island of Santorini, will be packed again this year, and that peak season will extend from May through early October.  Sadly, we’re not seeing any relief from the sticker shock that grew out of the post-pandemic demand for travel, what with Europe’s summer season coinciding with events such as the Olympics in France in July, the G7 Summit in Puglia, Italy, in June, and Taylor Swift concerts all over the U.K. and Europe from May through August.

Not to worry:  We’ve got solutions, and Brook (pictured above in Norway in November) and Hannah and I, plus special guests, will be sharing them during WOW Week, February 5-9, when we’ll host a Travel Talk every day at 7 pm EST.  Bring your burning questions!

NOTE: If you have trouble signing up for our Travel Talks, make sure you have a free Zoom account that is associated with the email address you are using. 



Where and When to Travel in 2024

Monday, February 5, at 7pm EST

Last year broke travel records, and you should expect—and prepare for—more records to fall in the year ahead. Wendy, Brook, and Hannah reveal what’s shaping up for 2024: opportunities to take advantage of, challenges to zap, and the coolest under-the-radar places, off-season values, foodie experiences, and more.



South America Now: Smart Choices and Good Value

Tuesday, February 6, at 7pm EST

Wendy and Brook explain why the continent should be on your list for 2024, and WOW List experts for South America share what’s new, what’s best, what you haven’t thought of, and how to ensure your trip goes smoothly.



Successful Family Travel in 2024

Wednesday, February 7, at 7pm EST

WOW List experts with the latest intel for maximizing your travels and minimizing stress—in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and beyond—will share solutions. Learn how to keep everybody in your travel group happy, whatever their ages or conflicting needs and interests. Bring your questions!



Travel Insurance and Emergency Assistance: How to Protect Yourself

Thursday, February 8, at 7pm EST

Learn how to prepare for the unexpected, from surprise injuries to natural disasters to political unrest. Experts explain and simplify how to minimize your risk, both financial and medical, and they’ll take your questions live, so bring your list of what’s been perplexing you!



Take Better Travel Photos with Your Phone!

Friday, February 9, at 7pm EST

Photojournalist Tim Baker (a.k.a. Mr. Wendy Perrin) reveals simple tips to help you take much better travel photos with your smartphone–better action shots, group shots, food shots, night shots, video, and more. Tim’s advice is device-agnostic: Apple and Android users welcome!



A big thank-you to our WOW Week sponsor, Medjet:

Medjet is a global air medical transport and travel security membership program that can give travelers greater peace of mind. Their sponsorship enables me, Brook, Kristine, and the rest of our growing team to spend time answering your travel questions (via our Get a Personalized Trip Recommendation feature) and finding the smartest trip-planning specialists for you (see Wendy’s WOW List).

Don’t miss this special WOW Week discount:

Medjet is offering our WOW Week audience an exclusive discount of up to $50 off New Medjet Annual Memberships. The deal is available from Monday, February 5 at 9am EST till Monday, February 12 at 5 pm EST. You can learn more about Medjet and get the deal by clicking the red button below. 



Andrea Phillips

Beat the Summer Heat in Europe with a Cool Trip Itinerary

Mediterranean Europe is in the grip of a record-breaking heat wave, and in some spots, tourist crowds, high humidity, or wildfires are making it worse. Fortunately, the itineraries designed for our travelers by WOW List experts are delivering relief. The trip reviews below show how your fellow travelers are beating the heat and provide great ideas for the rest of us, including:

  • Get out of the cities and onto (or into) the water. If there’s no sea or lake nearby, think higher elevations in the countryside.
  • Consider water-based transport between the locations on your itinerary. Take shaded, breezy boats, from ferries to private water taxis.
  • Include excursions on the water, from sailboat tours to river rafting.
  • Limit outdoor activities to the morning and evening.  Spend the hottest part of the day (the afternoons) in air-conditioned or underground places. Think modern indoor museums, gelato-making classes, tastings in wine cellars, crypts and catacombs.
  • Pick waterfront accommodations and rooms with breezy balconies. In inland cities, think hotels with rooftop pools.
  • Choose northern Europe over southern (as we’ve been advising since January). The Matterhorn, fjords, waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks hit the spot right about now.

Keep cool out there!



Northern Italy and Lake Como: “We even had a private wakeboarding session one morning on the Lake!”

Andrea's daughter on her private wakeboarding session on Lake Como.

Claire Phillips wakeboarding on Lake Como, with Villa Balbianello in the background. Photo: Traveler Andrea Phillips

“My family of four, with two teen girls, had a wonderful and action-packed trip to Italy covering Umbria, Tuscany, Florence, Bologna, Lake Como and Milan, planned with Maria. We stayed at hotels that were the perfect fit (like the one in Florence that had a rooftop pool to beat the heat!), had the best rooms and locations and such personal service, all due to Maria’s connections. Italy was busy with travelers while we were there, but I can honestly say that it did not affect our plans at all, as Maria had it coordinated and timed out so perfectly.

Andrea's family enjoying the view of Florence from the rooftop pool.

Teens cooling off in the Grand Hotel Minerva’s rooftop pool in Florence, Italy. Photo: Andrea Phillips

This trip was also to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and Maria had suggested two stops along the way that were very special. Wow, were they ever! Borgo Santo Pietro, a working farm and wellness resort in west Tuscany, and Grand Hotel Tremezzo, near Bellagio in Lake Como. Both resorts resembled something out of a dream. Beautiful landscapes, amazing service, delicious food, gorgeous rooms, and so many amenities. At Borgo Santo Pietro, you had the feeling of being in a fairy garden wherever you went, and around every corner, there was something new to discover.

The other amazing stop was the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which is a standout feature on any Lake Como ferry ride, with its striking architecture, gardens and in-lake floating pool in front, so actually staying there was quite a treat! We enjoyed the spa, the many pools and casual restaurants, and even had a private wakeboarding session one morning on the Lake! That is a memory that will never be forgotten and made this stop my girls’ favorite! Maria also arranged a great private boat tour to visit Bellagio and the famous villas of the lake with a lovely private guide, who had access to go inside the villas and educate us on all of the historic collections and stories. It was fascinating!

Andrea Phillips

Andrea Phillips and family during their private cooking class in Umbria, Italy.

We had many other activities that were also highlights. In Umbria, we went canyoning through a roaring mountain river, had an in-depth local cooking class, a gelato-making class, and went truffle hunting with the cutest, yet very talented dogs. In Siena, we had lunch on the exact alleyway where the Mille Miglia Race of Classic Cars were driving through to enter Il Campo (definitely because of Maria’s connections in Italy!). In Lucca, we rode bikes around the medieval walls where we crossed paths with a special parade of classic Fiat 500s. In Bologna, we visited one of the world’s oldest universities, and in nearby Maranello, drove Ferraris through the streets of the town where they are made!” —Andrea Phillips

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



The Turquoise Coast: “The stops were beautiful and the food amazing…”

Vanessa Hulme

Travelers Vanessa and Colin Hulme aboard their private yacht on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Karen and her team planned an absolutely flawless vacation for my husband and me for 3 days in Istanbul and a 6-day cruise on a gulet along the Turkish coast. Our incredible guide in Istanbul, Sinan, not only showed us the tourist highlights, but out-of-the ordinary places we would never have found on our own. He also introduced us to real Turkish food, even going so far as booking a dinner reservation and pre-ordering a menu that suited us perfectly.

From Istanbul, we flew to Bodrum, and boarded our private gulet. We had never toured via a gulet, but it certainly exceeded our expectations. The crew was professional, accommodating, and went out of their way to make the trip special. The stops were beautiful and the food amazing.

We also had the pleasure of our most memorable WOW Moment in Datca, being the first and only guests at a hotel just prior to the opening! We had the facility to ourselves, were served a gourmet dinner that was overseen by the General Manager and Food Service Manager, and were offered a gorgeous suite for an overnight stay; to say this was very, very special is an understatement. (Thank you, Wendy, Karen and Mustafa.). Karen and those that work with her obviously have an in-depth knowledge of Turkey. This certainly made our trip both exciting and relaxing, both of which we requested.” —Vanessa Hulme

Read more reviews of Turkey trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Greece: “Our most favorite day of the trip was on a speed boat, where we traveled to the Blue Lagoon…”

Blue Lagoon in Tigani islet between Paros and Antiparos islands, Cyclades, Greece, with clear transparent turquoise waters.

Blue Lagoon in Tigani islet between Paros and Antiparos islands, Cyclades, Greece. Photo: Shutterstock

“We had one of our best family trips in years, thanks to Irene. We started in Athens, where Irene booked us in a spacious, modern ‘apartment’ at The Dolli, which had excellent service and food. The rooftop pool overlooking the Acropolis was a huge plus given the heat, and the day trip to the ruins at Delphi was a family favorite.

Then it was on to Paros, where we enjoyed the beautiful accommodations and staff attention at the Minois Hotel. Our teens loved the amazing outdoor space with our own small pool, as well as the resident cats. Our most favorite day of the trip was on a speed boat, where we traveled to the Blue Lagoon, went cliff jumping, and visited remote beaches in Antiparos and Despatiko. Nikos, our driver/guide, was fabulous, and we had a delicious lunch on board.

We then ferried to Santorini, where we stayed in the breathtaking Grace Hotel. The geology, ruins, and small towns in Santorini didn’t disappoint, and we enjoyed special attention at dinners that Irene arranged and various recommended restaurants, some ‘off the beaten path.’ We also loved our fascinating guided tour to Akrotiri, a town even older than Pompeii that was also destroyed—and then preserved—due to a massive volcanic explosion.

Our meals, guides, and hotels were all impeccable, and even with the heat and crowds, we always felt supported and well taken care of. We would highly recommend Irene to anyone planning a trip to Greece.” —Amanda Mandel

This trip was arranged by a WOW List candidate. Here’s what that means.

Ask Wendy


Tuscany: “Cool breezes throughout the day and evening—a welcome relief from the heat in Europe this summer…”

Scenic overlook of the Tyrrhenian Sea along the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

Scenic overlook of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

“Normally we would not travel to Italy in July…too hot and too crowded. However, our goal was to see Andrea Bocelli perform at the amphitheater he built in Tuscany called Teatro del Silenzio in Lajatico, his hometown. The theater is ‘silent’ except for the one concert he performs there each year in July, and we felt it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The concert was taking place during the middle of our time in Italy, so we needed an agenda before and after.

Jennifer suggested we start our trip on the Tuscan coast, staying four nights at the Hotel Il Pellicano. This gorgeous, iconic property overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, providing cool breezes throughout the day and evening—a welcome relief from the heat in Europe this summer. Heaven in July! We then traveled inland to the countryside of Tuscany for the next four nights, where we would be closer to the Bocelli concert. Borgo Pignano is an elegant country estate close to the hill towns of Volterra and San Gimignano. A perfect location that we would never have found on our own. Again, the temperature dropped in the mornings and evenings, making it very pleasant for al fresco dining and touring.

While at these locations, Jennifer arranged for driver/guides to transport us to several wineries. A standout was Ornellaia. Not an easy tour to arrange, and Jennifer managed it!

The Bocelli concert was beyond our expectations. The tickets that Jennifer and her team secured were front and center, five rows back from the stage. We will never forget it. It was more than a concert, it was a masterful production with a full orchestra, ballet company, chorus and guest artists, from opera to pop. Magical.

Jennifer’s advice is invaluable to us, and we consider her a friend. We have used other WOW List advisors with the same excellent results and will continue to use Wendy Perrin’s great resources when we travel.” —Susan Ketchum

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Copenhagen and the Danish seaside: “Not too hot… reasonable crowds, not too expensive, and very enjoyable…”

Lynn Herrick

Rainbow over Copenhagen. Photo: Traveler Lynn Herrick

“We rarely travel to Europe in the summer because of the heat and crowds, but we needed to be in Berlin in mid-July this year and wanted to add a week in another destination prior to reaching Berlin. Denmark was the PERFECT choice. Not too hot (even chilly some days!), reasonable crowds, not too expensive, and very enjoyable. Mads arranged our trip for us and he made it very easy. We did not mind driving in Denmark, so he arranged for a private car and put together an itinerary that gave us a flavor of the country. Our college-age kids traveled with us and there was enough to keep everyone engaged.

We loved, loved, loved Copenhagen. Our hotel was in the middle of all the action, and the city is extremely walkable and public transportation easy to navigate. Our first morning in town was our WOW Moment and it was perfect. We sailed (electric boat) around the city with a private tour guide and lots of fun snacks. It was a great introduction to the city, and the guide gave us lots of ideas for the rest of our trip.

We traveled to several cities after Copenhagen, visited castles, stayed at an inn that has been hosting guests since 1744, learned all about Hans Christian Andersen, visited museums, enjoyed a ferry ride, and stayed in a charming Danish seaside town with a great spa. We finished the trip with one more fun night in Copenhagen and stayed up late, as the sun seems to last forever…. Highly recommend Mads and Denmark for a special summer trip.” —Lynn Herrick

Read more reviews of Denmark trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast: “We did three boat trips (one sailboat and two motor boats), two cooking classes, and several wine tastings…”

Panoramic view of Fortresses Lovrijenac and old town of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Fortress Lovrijenac outside Dubrovnik’s old town, Croatia. Photo: Shutterstock

“My wife and I worked with Ala. We stayed in Dubrovnik (Hotel Excelsior) for three nights, Hvar (Maslina Resort in Stari Grad) for four nights, and Split (Santa Lucia Heritage Hotel) for two nights. All three hotels were excellent, and the Excelsior and Maslina Resort were both on the water. The Santa Lucia Hotel was in the main square about three blocks from the water.

We wanted to relax, so we did minimal sightseeing. Instead we did three boat trips (one sailboat and two motor boats), two cooking classes, and several wine tastings, which we enjoyed very much. The people of Croatia are very warm and genuine people, and we loved the country. The drivers and tour guides selected by Ala were on time, very knowledgeable, and very nice.

The whole trip was a highlight, but I would say the top two were an eight-hour sailboat, where we then stopped for lunch on a small island, and the cooking class in Split. The food was excellent throughout. I would highly recommend Croatia, and specifically Ala and her team, to anyone who is considering their next vacation.” —Jeffrey Cohen

Read more reviews of Croatia trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Italy: “Lunch and snorkeling…Cruising the Arno river with a renaioli….Learning to row a Batela in Venice…”

Narrow canal with bridge in Venice, Italy. Architecture and landmark of Venice. Cozy cityscape of Venice.

Venice, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

Maria did an excellent job of planning a balanced trip of cultural sightseeing and fun activities inside, outside, and on the water. After the overnight flight to Milan, we literally hit the ground hiking from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino, keeping our active boys moving while acclimating to the new time zone. Although a little risky with potential jet lag, this was a highlight hiking through the high serene hills for a couple of hours, with only the sounds of birds and a young wild boar and descending upon Portofino on foot. Portofino was a treat and the next full day at sea on a captained 40-foot boat to swim and visit the coastline at our leisure was awesome! Having lunch and snorkeling at San Fruttuoso was fantastic. Additional memorable experiences included:

    • Visiting the Ferrari museum and test driving Ferraris on the streets of Maranello
    • Touring the Accademia sculptures, the Uffizi and cruising the Arno river with a renaioli and our private guide Elvira
    • Staying at a palazzo in Montefalco: Maria was right—this is the balcony of Umbria, and the views are unforgettable!
    • Sightseeing through ancient Rome—including the Forum, Colosseum and Vatican museums—with very knowledgeable private guides (Valerie) and no lines!
    • Riding on the back of Vespas, seeing unique neighborhoods and parks in Roma
    • Learning to row a Batela in Venice w/ our own rowing instructor and having cicchetti (appetizers) and wine

Maria chose excellent hotels for our stays, and the rooftop bar lounge and pool in Florence was a great way to end every fun day.” —Mark Mazzatta

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Maia Luxury Resort, Anse Louis Beach, Seychelles

Secrets to a Better Hotel Stay

When TripAdvisor published its list of the ten hotels in the world with the best service, and I noticed that most of them are reasonably priced, I wrote How to Get Five-Star Service Without Paying Five-Star Prices and asked my friends on Facebook (frequent travelers, of course) this question: How do you get better service at hotels? When a problem crops up, how do you get it fixed, pronto?  I thought I’d share their strategies, as well as my own:

* “Tip the bellboy who delivers your bags to your room generously, and the rest of the hotel staff will hear about it in no time at all. That first tip with a big smile is the key.”  — Joe Yudin, WOW List Trusted Travel Expert for Israel

* “Make sure you speak to a person who can resolve the issue, and that varies from property to property.” — Sandy Ferguson,WOW List Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia

* “Call the front desk, or the executive concierge (if you are on an executive floor), and explain the problem in a calm, respectful way. If that does not generate prompt attention, ask to speak with the hotel duty manager.” — Toby Saltzman, travelterrific

* “First rule: You get more bees with sugar than with vinegar. Keep your cool. Second rule: Be prepared to state what will make you happy. Know what you want in any negotiation.” — Charles Wolfe, Hurley Travel Experts


And here are my own tried-and-true tips:

* Book through a travel agent or destination specialist who has a close relationship with the hotel and sends it a lot of business. A travel agent who is tight with the hotel’s general manager and sits on the hotel company’s travel agent advisory board, for example, gets priority treatment (and extra perks) for his/her guests.  Should a problem arise, the hotel’s manager will likely rush to rectify it (for fear that the hotel could lose the travel firm’s business); if the problem doesn’t get rectified, the travel agent can intervene on your behalf.  (If you’re in need of the right travel specialist for a trip you have in mind and you’d like a recommendation, you may ask me here.

* Get a name to email. Look up the hotel on TripAdvisor, note the name of the manager or other employee who is replying to the negative reviews, grab his or her email address off TripAdvisor or from the front desk, and send him or her an email. Say that you’re at the hotel and are apprising him of your complaint so that he has a chance to rectify it before you get home and write your review.

* Take to Twitter.  Tweeting directly to the hotel—like this—can be the fastest way to get a problem solved, as hotels want to nip consumer complaints in the bud before bad publicity goes viral. Particularly helpful are @HyattConcierge, @Marriott, @SheratonHotels, @WaldorfAstoria, and @WHotels.

* Post photos to Instagram.  Some hotels—Four Seasons properties, for instance—monitor geo-tagged Instagram posts. If they note a guest is unhappy, they’ll take action to resolve the problem.

Rosewood Mayakoba resort butler

When you have a butler (like this one at Rosewood Mayakoba), it’s easy to get problems fixed. But what about when you don’t?

What are your strategies for getting better hotel service? Please share them below.