For years I have been a frequent customer of the Holiday Inn brand of hotels. Now before you turn up your nose know this: almost all their properties have been remodeled. There are still some terrible ones (Louisville - North in Clarksville IN) but by and large everything from the Express to the Crowne Plazas are newly constructed or renovated in the last five years.
But that isn't my point.
These are owned by International Hotel Group or IHG. IHG appears to be moving their customer loyalty programs into one branded Rewards Club and because they have nine brands there is enough critical mass to staff a 24-hour, 7-day per week customer line. So as a Holiday Inn Priority Club member I can call and get a live person anytime.
And what does said live person do?
They find hotels nearby and make reservations for you on the spot.
Several times I have ended up in a city only to find that the travel office or the client has failed to properly make my reservations. Sometimes I am booked into a community guest room with a twin bed (which if you've met me you know won't work), or my reservation was for last week, or next week, etc... I call my Priority Club 800 number, give the operator my address, and ask them for a property with a vacancy nearby and the rate. I get options over the phone in less than 30 seconds, approve the reservation, and they use my credit card on-file.
I have been a Marriott member, and am currently a Hilton Honors member. Neither of them have this service. If you travel a lot like I do, get yourself a Priority Club or IHG Rewards Club account. It will save you some midnight when your plane lands and you have no room.