Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to avoid hotel hell in NYC

First step: Don't use Travelocity to book a hotel.

For this current trip to NYC, I used Travelocity, since the conference at which I was speaking didn't have a room block yet set up. Turns out Travelocity booked me in a hotel that wasn't open yet, and isn't due to open until August!

How did I find this out? Not form Travelocity. No, I found it out becuse I had let the conference organizer know about the great rate I had found and when she called to try to get a block, she discoverred this news and let me know.

When I called Travelocity to doublecheck not only did it take 20 minutes just to get the operator to understand what I was trying to tell her (and I've been told I'm quite articulate, so no, I don't think I was stating "The hotel doesn't seem to be open for business yet, can you confirm?" in some convoluted way) but then she promised that they would look into it and that someone form Travelocity would call me back within 24 hours.

Of course they didn't. So, I cancelled online. Hope they don't try to charge me a fee.

Second step: Ask these three questions

1. "Are any of the buildings immediately surrounding you under heavy construction?"

A cheap rate is just not worth waking up to really loud constructions sounds at 6:30AM. Some of which sound like they are the harbinger of the apocalypse. Do construction companies toss loads of concrete off the side of a building, several stories up, to get it closer to the dumpster? Because that's what it sounded addition to the pneumatic drills and jackhammers.

2. Do you think guests in your hotel are too hip and cool to require privacy in the bathroom?

OK, I already don't like a place that doesn't just have a DOOR to the bathroom. I'm a bit flummoxed by a place that instead has this sliding screen that goes back and forth between blocking off the shower area to blocking off the toilet area...neither 100% blocked off mind you, but close. I'm annoyed by a place that doesn't seem to have working light fixtures in the shower or toilet area. But finally, the piece de resistance, is a place that has frosted glass on its big bathroom windows that goes only halfway up. Which might work if this was a one or two story building surround by other one or two story buildings. But I'm on the 9th floor surrounded by much taller buildings. Anyone in any window of any of those buildings could have a very enjoyable time watching various people on various floors take their morning showers.

Am I not supposed to care? I guess I'm just an old stick-in-the-mud that I never realized I was, just because I don't feel like even the possibility of giving someone a free show in the bathroom is my obligation.


RoomLinx is pretty much incompetent to deal with you if you have a Mac, and they will tell you it's all your fault. Or rather, Apple's fault. You can explain to them all you want how you've traveled from hotel to hotel with your trusty Mac across this country and that plenty of internet vendors seem entirely capable of handling it, but they will not care. They will not care if it is a server/configuration issue on their end.

And why do I know this is a RoomLinx issue? Because they are the same vendor at the Hotel Affinia where we held BlogHer Business, and the symptoms are exactly the same. And the lack of interest or concern (even when we warned them that a crowd of 200, maybe half Mac users, would be descending on the hotel for two if they didn't fix it now, they'd be really sorry) is exactly the same.

This will now be the first question I ask, and the first reason I will decide not to stay at a hotel...and I will tell the hotel so.

In fact, I'll be telling the Hotel Affinia we can't have BlogHer Business there next year if they don't change vendors. Which is too bad, because the hotel treats us very well.

Oh, and where am I staying now? The Hotel QT on 45th between 6th and 7th. Come on down and see the show. I hear if you climb above the 9th floor in a surrounding building you can see a blogger shower for free!

Grumble, grumble.

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