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50+ Hotel Industry Terms to Know Before You Go


Here are hotel industry terms, specifically some words and phrases that deal with hotels and lodging. These accommodations definitions cover all aspects of a stay, from room types to meals and more.

Updated: 2018-03-04.
I have done several of these in the past, but one reader asked me specifically for some words and phrases that deal with hotels and similar lodging. So, I figured I would do another post as I researched them for myself. I’ve included a link to the fuller definition at our travel glossary, as well.

Here are the hotel industry terms, along with some that I’ve already included in past posts:

  • Group Rate – A negotiated rate on travel, perhaps a stay or vacation plan, that incentivizes for a large crowd that books together. 
  • No-Show – A customer or guest, such as at a restaurant, hotel, or flight, that does not arrive for their reservation and does not give warning of their change of plans. A no show may be charged a fee or could lose some or all of their deposit, in some cases.
  • Bed Night (or Bed/Night) – In the hotel industry, a bed night is a measure of occupancy of one person for one night.
  • Room Night (or Room/Night) – In the hotel industry, one room per one night.
  • Occupancy – A percentage rate used by places of accommodations that indicate the amount of rooms sold per night.
  • Property – A general term that may be used by a place of accommodation that denotes the facility.
  • Standard Room – This is usually the cheapest room in a hotel; the most basic room sold, with the most basic amenities. May also be called a “Single Room.” Will usually have one double- or Queen-sized bed.
  • Room Primo Hotel Riga Latvia 1
    Two twin beds in a double room in the Primo Hotel in Riga, Latvia.

    Double Room – A basic room, but outfitted to easily and comfortably accommodate two guests, usually with one Queen-sized bed or two double- or twin-sized beds. Since a “Double Room” has no guarantee of two separate beds, to differentiate, those with two beds are sometimes called a “Double Double Room.”

  • Suite – A fully-equipped room, usually including a bedroom separate from the living room area. A suite will most likely have a small kitchenette, and perhaps a bar or dining table to eat at.
  • Peak (Season) – Primary travel season.
  • Off-Peak (Season) – Slowest travel season.
  • Bed & Breakfast – Typically, a home that a proprietor has converted into accommodation(s) for the public. Each room becomes a separate unit for rent. The breakfast part is where it is common for the host to include a family-style breakfast for all their guests. Typically, the breakfast is served at a specific time, and all guest are expected to sit around the table communally and participate.
  • Boutique Hotel – A type of hotel, usually smaller, that conforms to a niche. Though the definition is abstract, a boutique will usually offer fewer rooms, but more personalized service.
  • Adjoining Rooms – Two hotel rooms that have a door connecting them from the inside; may be booked separately, and in that case, each side can be locked for privacy.
  • Half-Board – In hotel parlance, a rate that includes one or two meals, usually breakfast and lunch, or a brunch.
  • Full-Board – In hotel parlance, a rate that includes three full meals. Also called the “American Plan.”
  • Amenity – Any item or service included in a hotel room at the standard cost. Amenities may include coffee makers, hair dryers, etc.
  • Bellboy – Also called “Bellhop” or “Bellman,” a person that is hired by the hotel to assist guests, such as with luggage.
  • Concierge – An employee of the hotel whose primary task is to serve as the liaison between the hotel and non-hotel attractions, facilities, services, and activities; may have a desk separate from the general check-in counter.
  • Quad – A hotel room that can accommodate four people.
  • Triple – A hotel room that can comfortably accommodate three people.
  • Cash Bar – Also known as an “À la Carte Bar,” a bar located within one’s hotel room that is pre-stocked with an assortment of snacks and beverages (and sometimes other things, like condoms, grooming kits, etc.) that will be billed to the room and guest upon checkout, if the items are used or consumed.
  • European Plan – A room rate that includes no meals.
  • Incidental Charge – Items and services billed to a room after their use, such as movies, phone calls, etc.
  • Late Check-out – A more exclusive perk for some guests that allow a few extra hours to check out from the normal hours.
  • Early Check-in – A perk that allows a guest to check in at an earlier time than the standard check-in time.
  • Overstay – A guest who stays past their expected check-out time without properly altering the reservation.
  • Extended-Stay Hotels – A type of hotel that specializes in guests staying for a longer average time. These hotels may usually have a minimum stay (such as a week or so), and they may include suite-like rooms to make these guests more comfortable.
  • Motel – A combination of “Motor Hotel,” this is a kind of hotel that is generally cheaper and with less frills, and most often rooms that are accessible from the outside, not from within a central lobby.

And here are some of the ones that I’ve included in previous posts, but just as relevant and important:

  • A La Carte – When referring to food, perhaps in a room-service or restaurant menu, this indicates that each single item is priced separately. Menu items that are a la carte are priced per item, not as part of a set meal.
  • Average Daily Rate (ADR) – The ADR is the total revenue income from rooms sold, divided by the number of rooms. For instance, if a hotel made $150,000 while selling 200 rooms, its ADR would be $150000 / 200 = $750. This is useful to determine the average costs of hotel rooms when searching for rooms by price.
  • Average Published Rate (APR) – This is the rate obtained when a hotel averages all the various room-types they offer(single, double, suite, penthouse, etc.) throughout all the seasons of the year(different times of the year has different rates), in order to get one average rate for the hotel.
  • Extended Stay (hotel type) – This is a term that usually means that the hotel or resort property quotes their prices in longer segments than daily rates. Usually, the property will quote per week, and this kind of accommodation is more suitable for families or groups, as it typically has more amenities; extended stay properties usually must have a kitchenette that includes a stove-top burner. Generally, a 5-night stay is the minimum for an extended stay hotel.
  • Bed Tax – Also known as Transient Occupancy Tax, it is a City or County tax added to the price of the room.
  • Rack Rate – The list price of a hotel room before any discounts or promotions.
  • Mattress Run – I’ve listed this before, but figured that I’d better include it here, since it deals with hotels. Similar to a mileage run, a mattress run is executed when a traveler, who is a member of a hotel chain’s frequent stay program, stays a few nights at a hotel with the sole purpose of bulking up on whatever points the hotel’s program offers. The benefits of doing mattress runs include possible free nights earned, higher status in the program, and more amenities, services, and upgrades offered as the result of the higher status. Hotels typically have offers where guests can earn an increased number of points for stays during these promotions, which are when a lot of mattress runs are undertaken.
  • American Plan – Sometimes referred to as the Full American Plan, Full Pension, or Full Board, this is a plan where the room rate includes three full meals per day and per guest.
  • Modified American Plan – A rate plan where breakfast and dinner is included in the price, but not lunch. Also called half pension or demi-pension plan.
  • Continental Plan – A hotel rate that includes a continental breakfast, but no other meals.
  • American Breakfast – A breakfast, usually either a self-serve buffet-style, including juices, coffee, cereal, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and other various things. Much more food than the “continental breakfast”.
  • Continental Breakfast – A small breakfast including items such as coffee, tea, juices, pastries, bagels, rolls, and fruit. Typical in lower-rate hotels and motels, as well as in Europe.
  • Quin – When referring to hotel rooms, it is a hotel room that can accommodate five people.
  • Shoulder Season – The time between high and low seasons, or peak and off-peak seasons. Usually rates are lower than high season, but with temperature and crowds that are similar. Cynics might say that the shoulder season is a term that hotels and airlines use to charge the high rates of peak season, while being able to offer attractions, staff, and resources typical of the off-peak season.
  • House Limit – The maximum amount the the hotel will allow on credit before requesting payment.
  • E-Key – Key that is used to prevent hotel guests from entering their rooms. May be used when a guest goes over the house limit and doesn’t pay.
  • Trundle Bed – Bed that stores itself under another bed, usually on casters.
  • Frequent Lodger – The hotel industry’s equivalent of a frequent flier; one who stays at a particular hotel chain of properties, mostly to reap rewards from a frequent lodger program.
  • Blackout Dates – Dates where special fares or promotions do not apply, typically existing around holidays, peak seasons, or special events. Many frequent flier programs have blackout dates when rewards may not be redeemed.
  • Maximum Stay – The longest period of time a traveler can stay at the destination while still qualifying for the promotional or discounted fare.
  • Person Trip Visit – A term that is used to denote every time that a single traveler goes over 100 miles or stays overnight away from their primary domicile; whether for business or for leisure, a person doing completing either of the two is making one person trip visit.

There are probably dozens more that I could add, but these are some of the most important and widely used of the accommodations and hotel industry terms to define. Check out the Dauntless Jaunter Glossary Page for more travel terms and definitions.

Christian Eilers
Written by
Christian Eilers
Join the discussion

  • Hi, I read your articles & its good. This gave me a pretty good idea about hotel related terms. Currently I am switching over to a software company who deals in hospitality softwares, my job will be like implementing the entire software, train the staffs or the manager about the software & answering the queries if any arises.

    Could you please write something about the links between the frontdesk with finance, housekeeping, the minibar, laundry, POS (for example, if a particular guest had something in the hotels’ restaurant & he need the bill to be attached with his room, he will pay everything during his checkout)

  • Hi, I love the whole information about those. Buy I wanted to ask if you can clarify more about Terms that used by five and three star hotel to handle visitors

    • Hey, Siael, thanks for stopping by! Can you tell me what more I can add, exactly? What do you mean by “terms?” I’d love to help in any way I can! I’ll be happy to add some extended definitions or new hotel industry terms here if you just tell me what you’re looking for 🙂

  • Hi Christian,


    Article is superb but I want to know more about the terms used by inbound and outbound organization, in respect to sales, hotels, transport, meals, local agents, suppliers, operations, account I mean a complete vocabulary. If you could help I will be very grateful. Looking forward for your reply.

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