How Hotels Figure Out Room Assignments (It’s Not Easy!)

by SharonKurheg

You’ve arrived at your hotel. It’s check-in time and there’s a line at the front desk. You’re behind someone who got a room on the 3rd floor, overlooking the dumpster. You’ve got status and got the 27th floor with a view of the main drag. Meanwhile, the couple behind you, who are there for a wedding, got a room next to their cousins, on the 11th floor.

How do hotels figure out who is going to stay where each night, anyway?

There are lots of factors to determine room allocation. In no particular order, the person who determines this has to consider:

  • Status or VIPs – VIPs will have higher priority over people with status. People who have status will have priority over those who don’t have status. And people with higher status will have priority over those with lower status.
  • Blocks of rooms – groups that are having family reunions, business meetings, conferences, weddings, etc., will tend to be placed in the same area (or, if a large group, areaS) of the hotel, with their rooms nearby each other (unless the person in charge of the group specifically says they don’t care where people are in relation to everyone else in the group).
  • Special requests when the reservation was made – “We stayed in Room 3525 for our honeymoon. It’s our 10th wedding anniversary and we’d really like to stay in the same room, if possible.” “We’d like a room (at the end of the hall/close to the elevator/on the first floor/on the top floor/not on the 4th floor/etc.)”
  • Matching the room type with the needs of the guests. This could include issuing a handicapped accessible room to the guest using a wheelchair (but they should hope it isn’t this deathtrap of an “accessible” room), double-checking that a family of 4 has the 2 double beds they requested, placing the elderly couple down the hall where it’s quieter, putting big families with noisy kids down the other hall where they won’t bother others (or, depending on the hotel setup, putting them closer to the elevator so they don’t go past everyone else’s rooms when they’re ready for breakfast at 7 am) etc.
  • The more you paid for the room, the better chance you have of getting a better room.
  • Reservations made with third parties get lower priority. If you used, Priceline, etc., don’t be surprised if you’re on the 2nd floor, directly above the banquet hall, and with a view of the parking lot. 😉
  • Issuing “pet rooms” for guests who have brought their pets.
  • Sometimes the hotel is 100% booked but there’s that one room with the leaky faucet that maintenance didn’t get to yet. Someone has to get it; if your history with the chain makes it seem like you’re not a complainer, it might be you.
  • Some hotels will save rooms closest to the front desk for women who are traveling alone, in the interest of safety; they’re within “screaming distance.”
  • Guests who stay at any given hotel on a frequent basis could get a better room than someone who made a first-time reservation.
  • If the hotel isn’t super full, they may “lock-off” certain wings/floors to help save on heat/air conditioning/electricity, etc. (this happened a lot during the pandemic)
  • Length of stay. If someone is going to be in a room for a week, it’s a different consideration than if someone is only staying overnight.
  • For the rare hotel that still offers smoking rooms, it’s also something that’s considered.
  • If the guest arrives before check-in time, their room isn’t ready and they REALLY want a room, they may get a different room that may be better/worse than what they were assigned. But they’ll get it early.

If the hotel isn’t at full capacity, the front desk also has the ability to upgrade people (or give them the aforementioned room with the leaky faucet), based on their own judgments and circumstances surrounding that particular guest.

But how do they do it?

Each hotel has its own system and criteria. Whoever/whatever the case, apparently it’s not easy. For some hotels, there’ve been people who’ve spent their entire careers figuring out who’s checking out, who’s checking in, and who’s going to sleep where that night.

There are hotel property management system software packages nowadays, such as Hotelogix, that can help make the work easier. But I still don’t envy those whose job it is to figure out where everyone will sleep that night because, as you surely know, not everyone is always happy with the room they’re assigned.

*** Feature Image PC: Holidayextras / flickr (cropped)

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1 comment

Rjb September 18, 2021 - 4:09 pm

So I’m a Marriott lifetime platinum. How do they figure out always give me the shitty room? Bonvoyed


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