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JavaOne Tokyo '05: Hotel rooms and technology

Posted by joconner on November 3, 2005 at 5:58 PM PST

Several weeks ago, I booked my hotel room using a fancy, online reservation system. Everything looked great. Good area in Shibuya with a room overlooking Shinjuku, just minutes from the Shibuya station. After an unusual panic attack, I decided to actually call (after all these years with email, I can still use the telephone) the hotel to confirm my reservation.

"Hello, this is John. I would like to confirm my reservation for ..." I said nervously.

The response was somehow already in my mind before she spoke, "We're sorry. We don't have your reservation on file."

"Oh no...I made these reservations online weeks ago" I weakly replied.

In the most humble, it's-all-our-fault-but-there's-nothing-we-can-do, sweet voice, she said "I'm sorry."

There I was, phone in hand, jaw on floor, wondering where I would stay in just 24 more hours when I arrive in Japan.

"OK, gotta think quickly," I thought. "Get on the, that's how I got into this internet reservation. No, no, just get a few phone numbers."

I quickly found a few numbers of hotels in the same Shibuya area, made a couple calls, and BINGO! I found another room and booked it immediately. And I made sure to get the confirmation number too.

The odd thing in all of this is that the online systems quickly pronounced me hopelessly out of rooms available in all of Asia. When I finally decided to call the people directly, I found a place almost immediately. I don't get, nothing; on the phone, I make a reservation immediately.

I suppose there are still some things technology (and online reservation sytems) still lack, and sometimes whether I like it or not, I'll have to resort to the old but extremely useful, dependable telephone.

Close call, but I'll actually have a place to stay after all. If you haven't found a place by now, let me give you a quick tip...forget the online reservation systems, get online, find a few hotel numbers, and make some direct, old-fashioned phone calls.

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