Scripting News for 5/2/2006

CBS News: Would Dan Rather Be Blogging? 

Movie: Don Park, Jeremie Miller, Doc Searls, Mary Hodder

Om Malik: File sharing is the new email

Today’s song: “Will you carry the words of love with you, will you ride the great white bird into heaven? And though you want to last forever, you know you never will, you know you never will. And the goodbye makes the journey harder still.” 

I’m leading a lunch discussion today about Identity in RSS and OPML, particularly OPML 2.0, which has a element for the author’s identity. It’s specified in 2.0 as a URL, and should plug into the work being done in this community. 

Anyone know where I can get a copy of the Hollywood Revue of 1929? 

There ought to be a law 

I thought I’d save some money and stay in a nice hotel at the same time, so when I booked my stay for the Identity Conference, I used Hotwire. I’ve booked through them about a dozen times, and once before had a bad experience, but thought I had finally figured out how to get a good room from them, until tonight.

Here’s what happened. I booked a room through Hotwire at the Sheraton Sunnyvale. I arrived a little before 10PM, they confirmed that I had reserved a smoking room. I said “non-smoking.” They said that Hotwire had requested a smoking room for me, and that’s all they had left. I won’t stay in a smoking room, as a former smoker, they smell horrible, I’ve tried once before sleeping in a smoking room, I couldn’t do it. I had to get up in the middle of the night, switch to a different hotel. Since I quit smoking in June 2002, I’ve never slept a full night in a smoking room. They make me ill.

The Sheraton people said that since Hotwire had requested a smoking room, there was nothing they could do, and the hotel was oversold. I think this is a key point. Hotels that sell rooms through Hotwire are getting rid of what they call excess inventory. Seems to me what they are actually doing is hedging their bet, they take the reservations through Hotwire, but when they can get enough full-price customers they throw out the Hotwire customers by giving them the smoking rooms. (Hotwire denied that they had requested a smoking room.)

I called Hotwire. They couldn’t get me a non-smoking room at the Sheraton, and they wouldn’t try to get me a non-smoking room at another local hotel. They said they’ll let me know tomorrow whether or not they’ll refund my money. I was lucky that I was able to find a non-smoking room at another local hotel (much more expensive) by driving around. It was too late to book a room online through another service.

Needless to say I won’t be booking any more trips with Hotwire or Sheraton. What an awful customer experience!

Good night and good luck.

How old I am today 

Thanks everyone for all the very kind birthday wishes! :-)

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by billg on May 2, 2006 at 4:22 am

    When I book through Hotwire or Priceline or any of the others I make a practice of calling the hotel directly to confirm the non-smoking request. Typically, they say my reservation had not included the request.

    Few properties seem willing to guarantee a non-smoking room, taking pains to remind you that you’ve only made a request. (Maybe it’s different in California?)

    I dunno about you, but I’d be willing to pay a modest surcharge to really guarantee that non-smoking room. Actually, though, let’s make the smokers pay the surcharge for their rooms.

    Reply

  2. YouTube has an excerpt.

    There’s a Jack Benny fan who will burn you a copy on DVD (if you supply the blank DVD, $10, and postage).

    Warner Home Video is reportedly working on an official release. Meanwhile, they have released a couple of bits as bonus material on other DVD titles: Singin’ in the Rain from Hollywood Revue of 1929(sung by Cliff Edwards–later the voice of Jiminy Cricket) is on the second disc of the two-disc edition of Singin’ in the Rain. The Laurel and Hardy routine from Hollywood Revue of 1929 is on the recent Laurel and Hardy set.

    Reply

  3. I’ve had the same thing happen to me, except I booked through Expedia. Even though I requested a non-smoking room, there is some fine-print that says that they cannot guarantee a non-smoking room.

    I think it’s one of THE most important things these travel sites can do for the customer. There is nothing worse than showing up after a long day of travel and walking into a room that stinks of smoke.

    So, I no longer book through Expedia until they can guarantee me a non-smoking room.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anton on May 2, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Happy birthday

    Reply

  5. I also would like to wish you Happy Birthday however as I say in the software applications classes that I teach – you are a long way from my age. I will be 68 in November and it is the “young” people like you that are showing me, also “young”, the way. I have enjoyed your blog and the things that I have learned from you and so many others. What I do is show the people around me (all younger than you or I) what a blog is and how it can be to there advantage to both read and blog – not to mention podcasting. Thank you for your time and your work – remember there is always someone out there wanting to learn and it doesn’t matter the age.

    Reply

  6. Happy 51st Birthday to you! And happy 1st birthday to my son!

    Reply

  7. Posted by Fritz on May 6, 2006 at 4:57 am

    Hollywood Revue of 1929 on laserdisc is $595 at http://laserdiscplanet.com/gh.html.

    Happy day, Dave.

    Reply

  8. dave,

    you hit the nail on the head with the hotel thing. hotels sign deals with hotwire, hotels.com, etc to pass them a certain amount of inventory. it’s a classic merchant model. hotel invetntory “spoils” every day. If they don’t sell a room, that revenue is lost forever. so they are hedging in a way. they pull in room nights from a variety of sources in an effort to optimize occupancy. most hotels don’t do a good job of it.

    you’d be shocked at how the transation works with the likes of hotwire. typically, there’s not even a direct connection into the hotel. these third party vendors are faxing reservations to the hotels. then someone there is manually entering the reservation into the property management system. this is why it’s just impossible for hotwire to book you a non smoking room–they aren’t talking to the hotel room database!

    also, don’t expect to get any frequent guest points when booking through discount web sites.

    finally, if you ever do “walk” to another hotel, as long as they have unoccupied rooms, you should be able to negotiate a pretty good deal. any smart GM will give the front desk leeway to negotiate down to a low rate, when a transient guest arrives. after all, that room is going to go unsold. so you should never pay rack rate if you want to rent a room the same night. the zinger is if they are highly occupied. then all bets are off.

    Reply

  9. dave,

    you hit the nail on the head with the hotel thing. hotels sign deals with hotwire, hotels.com, etc to pass them a certain amount of inventory. it’s a classic merchant model. hotel invetntory “spoils” every day. If they don’t sell a room, that revenue is lost forever. so they are hedging in a way. they pull in room nights from a variety of sources in an effort to optimize occupancy. most hotels don’t do a good job of it.

    you’d be shocked at how the transaction works with the likes of hotwire. typically, there’s not even a direct connection into the hotel. these third party vendors are faxing reservations to the hotels. then someone there is manually entering the reservation into the property management system. this is why it’s just impossible for hotwire to book you a non smoking room–they aren’t talking to the hotel room database!

    also, don’t expect to get any frequent guest points when booking through discount web sites.

    finally, if you ever do “walk” to another hotel, as long as they have unoccupied rooms, you should be able to negotiate a pretty good deal. any smart GM will give the front desk leeway to negotiate down to a low rate, when a transient guest arrives. after all, that room is going to go unsold. so you should never pay rack rate if you want to rent a room the same night. the zinger is if they are highly occupied. then all bets are off.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Peter on May 20, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    all those travel sites suck. but the hotels suck, too. which site, if any, guarantees a non-smoking room? you’d think that’d be easy to find in the web 2.0 world. so much for the internets.

    Reply

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