Is it the same hotel room?

 

I had the opportunity to answer a great question at work today.

“If Air Canada and WestJet and the other travel companies are selling the same hotel at different prices is it the same hotel room or different rooms?

My answer came in the form of an analogy. If you were buying a jar of Kraft peanut butter from Safeway or Sobeys, No Frills or Giant Tiger  it would be exactly the same Kraft peanut butter from the same Kraft factory. So it is also quite likely the same hotel room just being sold by two different vacation retailers.

Of course, different companies will feature or advertise that jar of peanut butter using different words (marketing descriptions). And each grocery store will put it on sale at different times or in different ways that suit their marketing agenda. But it would still be the same jar of peanut butter.

For example, a $1 off coupon, or buy 3 get 1 free promotion. Same peanut butter, and essentially the same savings, just presented to the consumer differently.

However there are some cases where hotels will block off a certain section of rooms and give them to one company to sell, exclusively.  Those rooms might have a unique view or exclusive proximity to the pool or entertainment area or something like that.  A privilege of this exclusivity is the airline/vacation provider can claim they have something to sell/feature that no other company has. So, yes, it absolutely could be a (slightly) different hotel room.

Ultimately the more buying power a company has the better deal they can negotiate with the hotel provider. So it does pay to shop around and focus on your own personal needs and situation when buying a vacation package. Prices can vary for exactly the same room. Or rooms could vary based on exclusivity rights.

To sum up with the analogy….you may not need four jars of peanut butter, even thought the deal seems attractive. The better deal for you personally, might be $1  off ONE jar of peanut butter.

So my advice is to not get hung up on the marketing words in the hotel description, but in fact analyze the description based on amenities and compare that way. “600 sq feet, balcony, king bed, mini fridge, and garden view.” That tells me what I am getting in the hotel room.

Whereas “modern, island oasis, perfect for your family, sleeps 4 and features unique herbal rainforest shower products” does NOT allow me the same insight. Yet both could be describing the exact same room.

Marketing and price are two ways that retailers can differentiate themselves in an attempt to earn your business. What YOU can do is to research, fact check, and enlist the help of an experience travel agent in order to wade through the marketing and online verbiage to get to the vacation best suited to you, at the best price.

How to buy a plane ticket without a credit card

So how DO YOU buy a plane ticket without a credit card?

Easy.  Visit a travel agent at a bricks and mortar store in your city/town.   You will be able to pay at the travel agency with cash or debit card. (No cheques)

The plane ticket, in your name, will be issued to you within minutes.   You will get an email copy, and a print copy if you request it,  of your ticket.

Most airlines also offer an app for your phone. Your last name and the ticket locator code can be entered into the app and you will see the ticket there on your phone.  You can even complete check in and receive a boarding pass on your phone.

In addition to the plane ticket you will need a drivers license or passport to board the plane with the matching name and identical spelling to the name on your ticket.  For example if your driver’s license says “Robert” your plane ticket must also say “Robert.” Even if the rest of the world knows you as “Bobby.”

Is there a fee for this service at a travel agent? Typically yes, a $25 ticketing fee will be charged to print & issue the ticket. However, some tickets might already have that fee included.  When in doubt, just ask.

 

 

Get in that photo!

I’m not the first person to say it. But it’s a message that should be echoed over & over until we all hear it.

“Mama, get in that photo!”

The excuses in our heads are bunk. The odds of our kids looking at a crafted photo and remembering us as “perfect” are zero anyways!

Our kids will remember us as their one & only, amazing, irreplaceable mom because we PARTICIPATED.  We made cookies at midnight, played on the swings, went on nature walks & made soup when they were sick.

Please. Please don’t say no to posing when your hair’s a mess, you’re 20 pounds more than you want to be, or your clothes are 10 years old. The kids hear that, and it will affect how they view women, motherhood & themselves into the future.

So put down the camera, pass it to your husband, a stranger or a selfie stick. Get in the photo!! You matter & your kids love you exactly the way you are.

Capture that moment!

I unabashedly share this one. Without excuses or apologies for the way I look.  I was walking the ocean floor with my kids at The Bay of Fundy. And I WAS the tallest in the photo! How cool was that!!!

Baseball in Milwaukee

If you’re going to travel to baseball stadiums and collect baseball souvenirs eventually you’ll have to go to Milwaukee.

This past Easter weekend Riley and I travelled to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers play the LA Dodgers.

We picked up tickets online at StubHub for $35 a piece. It’s early in the season so I think that’s a pretty fair price. We sat in the club section front row, which is prime area for catching a foul ball. During our game there were 4 fouls into our section, Riley narrowly missed catching one. So in this instance, we had to buy our souvenir ball from the gift shop.

Some of the perks of sitting in the club seats is that there is that waitress service to your seat, but there is also specialty food kiosks on the concourse. Things like carved meat sandwiches, and cheesecake, things that you wouldn’t get in the regular seating.

One of the other perks of sitting in club is that there are more washrooms per capita.

There are less crowded souvenir stands in addition to comfy chairs and big screen TVs on the concourse. There were even phone charging stations.

I will say that every baseball stadium I’ve been to there are good seats and there are great seats but there are truly no “bad seats.” So whenever you sit, you’ll still have a fabulous time!

There can however be bad weather, but not a big deal in Milwaukee because they have a covered stadium. So no worries about a rain delay in Milwaukee.   But if the weather is sunny and fabulous, it has a retractable roof so they can open the dome and let the sunshine in.

In terms of ballpark food, I had a bratwurst dog and local craft beer at a cost of $17.  Riley had chicken fingers, waffle fries, a bag of peanuts and a Pepsi For about $22.

Miller Field is about 10 minutes from Downtown Milwaukee and most of the hotels or restaurants have free shuttles to the ball park. That was awesome! I love a free shuttle!  Our driver, Steve, had lots of personality and it was a fun little shuttle drive. (Don’t forget to tip your shuttle drivers!)

If you’re looking for a great ballpark don’t overlook Milwaukee!  Great city, great time.

Harley Davidson Museum of Milwaukee

 

The Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee wasn’t my reason for the trip, but it certainly was an added bonus.

We were there to see the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park & add another baseball to our collection.

To get to the museum, we easily walked over the bridge from our downtown Hilton hotel  in less than five minutes.

The museum itself cost $20 for adults and $10 for my teenager. We also opted to stay and have lunch on the property which cost us another $35. The food was excellent! I had mini sliders and Riley had macaroni and cheese which was topped with smoked brisket. I think you could safely recommend any of the smoked meat or barbeque on their menu. Everyone around us seemed to be eating BBQ & loving it.

The museum itself took us about two hours. There were a number of interactive displays including the engine room where you could listen to the different engine models & sounds. Riley Thought that was pretty great. I enjoyed the colour gas tanks on display which showed all of the different years and the paint colours.

The museum had bikes from the past hundred years and a lot of the stories  behind the craftsmanship.

I could see a motorcycle enthusiast spending twice the amount of time that we did and loving every minute.

If you happen to be in Milwaukee visiting the Harley Davidson Museum would be an afternoon well spent .

Milwaukee Bound?

If you happen to be headed for Milwaukee to watch the Raptors & Bucks square off in the NBA Playoffs, I’ll suggest you book a room at the Hilton Downtown. Its location is ideal! Just a few blocks to the basketball arena. (Fiserv Arena).

Less than 1 mile from Fiserv Arena and a 10 minute shuttle to Miller Park baseball stadium

The Hilton also has a lively pub with great food. All ages are welcome.

Bacon topped Wisconsin cheddar soup

The Hilton Downtown Milwaukee also is home to a Starbucks outlet. Just in case you need your Starbucks each morning.

If the Hilton Milwaukee Downtown is sold out, you can book on the next block at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel. It’s just one block away, has modest rooms and amenities but is clean and has excellent service. While there isn’t a pool at the Doubletree, it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio on the 2nd floor where you can go to enjoy a beer in the sunshine.

Skip the rental car in Milwaukee.  There are numerous pubs and brewery tours in this city, and if you want to indulge, you won’t be driving.  And in addition to free shuttles and Uber, you can easily walk from hotel to event, to restaurant. You can even plan a visit to the Harley Davidson museum. I’ll note that in my next post. Cheers!

Milwaukee is a great place to visit. I was last there in April 2019.