Oh my god, am I sick of looking at hotel websites. No, I have not booked anything yet for our family trips to California and Washington, D.C. Why? Because I am deal-oriented. I get seriously pissed off if I find out that after all my effort that I could have paid significantly-less for the exact same thing, or could have acquired a nifty perk if I only knew where to ask for it. I can’t help it; this trait comes from my mom, who is significantly more obsessive about dealing and bargains than I am. I like to have nice things, but I hate to feel RIPPED OFF. I am pretty sure that even if I had Bill Gates’ money (or more of it, I should say) I would still be compelled to not completely flush my wealth down the toilet. But as I do not really wish to end up at a seedy campsite or sleeping in a rental car, I need to commit to some of these confusing rooms. Here is my open letter to the hoteliers of the world, and how they could better earn my bweesness, because bweesness is what it’s all about.

1. Make it simple to get all the information I need about your hotel. Your website should be easy to navigate, well-written without sounding like Welcome To Snootytown or You Are Entering Sheer Transcendent Heaven , and be upfront about what it really costs to stay there. I know this sounds like common sense, but many sites simply are not constructed to best benefit the reader/consumer. I am sick of getting tossed back to the chain’s main page from the specific hotels, buggy reservations systems, or not even being able to find out if there’s a charge for kids in the room.

2. Jesus Christ, don’t charge for in-room Wi-Fi access. That’s so damn lame. These days, internet access at hotels, all hotels, is expected and needed by most travelers, just like fresh water, a bed, a TV, and clean towels. To tack on another $10-$30 per day, per computer --yes, if you are using more than one computer in the room, you get screwed like this – is shittay. Nickel-and-diming guests makes them crabby.

3. Your mini-bar sucks. Now, if you even MOVE something in the room minibar, you can get charged for it, as most systems are moving to a weight system rather than a count of items. If the weight is varied, it’s on YOUR BILL. As I have no intentions ever of paying $7.00 for a Snickers bar even if my stomach is consuming itself in hunger, I’m not even opening the door. Would it be that terrible to stock the minibar with some nice cold bottled waters, a few reasonably-healthy snacks, and not charge a friggin’ fortune for them? This would bring a smile to your travel-weary guests and make for some pleasant goodwill and such.

4. Realize that I can add. Your amazing “Breakfast-For-2 Special Rate” is not really special to me when you are just tacking on the actual cost of the breakfast to the rack room rate and calling it inclusive. DEHHH.

5. If you want families to come to your hotel, give us a break. Offer a discounted connecting room, kids stay/eat free, a year-round pool, good deal pairings with local attractions, something. If you don’t really want kids in your hotel, put a photo of a frowning concierge on your website.

6. Pay attention to TripAdvisor.com. Smart hotel managers know that this very popular travel website which features reviews from real folks can have a huge impact on whether or not people stay at their properties. Is the customer always right? Yes and no. For the most part I think Trip Advisor gives a pretty accurate picture of a hotel, but there are always a few cranks that have to weigh in as well. I like to see management respond in a non-form-letter way to both positive and negative traveler comments – it tells me someone is bothering to care about what goes on in their hotel. Believe me, all I have to see is a few common reviews that say a place is noisy, dirty, has an unresponsive or rude staff or safety issues and I’m not staying there. If I read review after review that praises a friendly staff or the clean, comfortable, quiet rooms, or something especially cool, unique, or worthy about the place, I am much more likely to give that hotel a try.

7. Most people drive to hotels. When you force them to use the hotel’s valet parking, which means you are tipping the valet every time they bring up the car for you, and then charge $25-$40 a day for it, well, you just suck.

8. My varying travel times are your problem. Having a checkout time at 10AM with check-in at 4PM can often be a real drag, especially if you have whiny wiped-out kids with you. Offering to securely store my bags until my room is ready or give me a late check-out if I need it is helpful. If you can do more than that, I will remember it too.

Here’s something I know, not a novel insight but one that has a great deal of truth: the entire character of a business, whether it’s a hotel or a school or a department store, comes from the top on down. If owners and management are clueless, snotty, greedy or otherwise nasty, this filters down to every single employee and greatly affects the consumers’ experience. A great manager is a bit of a visionary, a firefighter, a diplomat, and organizer. I have been in fancy hotels with shoddy service and budget motels with staff that bent over backwards to make sure I had a good stay. I’ve paid a pile of cash per day and felt like I got more than my money’s worth and I’ve had “bargain rates” that turned out to be a nightmare. Great management makes the difference, I think, which can be huge in these difficult economic times. You don’t need an MBA to figure that out – offer people good perceived value, make them feel truly welcomed , and make it easy for them to pick out your business over all the other competitors. Hello.

Enough rant. Back to choices, which I am grateful to be able to have.