Your hotel stay is a big part of the overall travel experience. And the concierge can help you with valuable “keys to the city,” says Craig Carter, Vice-President of Strategic Development, K’Alma Spa Concepts & Management. Carter, who has experience traveling around the world, recommends business and personal travelers to “Make your hotel your home while you travel.” In addition to a travel security app like FoneTrac, these tips can help you stay safe while away from home.

Today, we conclude our exclusive interview with Carter, who is also the founder and developer of CIPHER Methodology. You can read the first part of the interview here.

Is it possible to connect solo with people and still keep yourself safe?
Hotel Connections and FoneTrac Travel Security App Can Help You Be Safe. Part Two of our Exclusive Interview with Craig CarterAbsolutely. For men traveling alone, it can be easier…but really, for any solo travelers, I recommend they start by dining in the hotel restaurant. You can establish some great rapport there, whether it’s with the host, bartender or your server. When you check into that hotel, don’t be someone who just walks from the front desk to your room with your suitcase and make that your hotel experience. And if you want to go outside and explore the city, let your hotel connections help you do that. Meet the staff, make friends with people you come into contact with. Learn their names and their backgrounds, then ask them for some great places to go. If you’re staying at a hotel with a concierge, tell the concierge you’re traveling alone…that can be especially helpful for women. Ask them to make that reservation for you and you’ll probably get treated better than if you walked in off the street.

A lot of concierges would say they have the keys to the city. It’s true. They can unlock those doors for you. They have established relationships and they choose their vendors carefully. They get paid, yes, but their vendors will take great care of their guests. That’s what keeps those referrals coming. So, wherever you travel, and there’s a concierge…that connection can be invaluable. Tip them, thank them for taking care of you… and you’ll get remembered and taken care of again. If you’re worried about safety and not knowing what businesses to trust, leverage of the services available through your hotel.

What advice do you have for people who are business travelers, or stay at chain hotels that don’t have a concierge?
You don’t have to stay at a luxury hotel to have that kind of an experience. There is a difference between tourists and travelers, and particularly for business travelers. That’s where making connections and building relationships with hotel staff can be valuable. If you stay at the same hotel each time you’re in a city and you tell them you’re coming back into town, they remember you because you created that connection and you’re not just a guest…you become “their” guest.

Have you always had great experiences, or do you have any Ugly American stories to share with us?
OK…yes. So, I was in Paris back in the ‘90s and had rented an apartment through a vacation rental site. There was no Airbnb or fancy GPS technology back then, and I didn’t speak any French. The cab driver couldn’t find the rental address I gave him. I also couldn’t call the owner because he didn’t have a calling card, anyone remember those? It was so bad, I couldn’t even figure out how to order a meal…needless to say, all of this really impressed my wife. We didn’t know anything about the culture, and I’ll leave it at, it was not a very good experience. Fast forward to a few years later. We were at a fundraiser in Chicago and won First-class trip for two to the Four Seasons…in Paris. We went back to try it again. First minutes there, after that extremely long flight, we were in the lobby of the Four Seasons finding out that it was too early for us to check in. The concierge was very sympathetic when I sought him out and explained that my wife was very unhappy. Right away he was helpful…I tipped him well but also thanked him profusely for saving me from the doghouse. That sympathetic concierge ended up ensuring we had a totally different and much improved experience than our first time in his city.

Any final thoughts or advice for our travelers?
Travel is all about the experience, whether you’re there for work or pleasure. If you look at life as one big journey and keep yourself open, it can be exciting, fun, an opportunity to meet someone new and try something different. Your state of mind going into that trip really matters.

Make your hotel your home while you travel. Treat the staff like family rather than staff, and they will not be on autopilot with you. Acknowledge them, comment on what both of you might observe…say things like “I really appreciate you,” or “I saw how those people treated you, and I want you to know not all guests are like that person.” Sincere, authentic compliments- because let’s face it, they have hard jobs- can make their day. When you see them over and over again, they will be looking out for you…not just for your comfort, but your safety as well, because you’ve invested them in your travel experience.

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