Hotel reservations

As I type this, I’ve spent 17:30 on the phone trying to book a hotel reservation for an industry trade show.

The “conference rate,” which involves pre-allocating a block of rooms in exchange for tacit endorsement of the hotel as a preferred venue, is a substantial break over the hotel’s normal mid-week rack rate. Because the trade show is on the east coast, I’ll need to arrive the night before. The first night is available at the conference rate. For the second night I’m there — the first day of the event — “no rooms are available at that rate.” They will charge me the rack rate. (It’s a Sunday, so it’s not too steep.) Rooms are available at the conference rate for days three and four.

Put another way, to accommodate my stay, they have to book three separate reservations in their system. The agent assures me I won’t have to switch rooms.

I lost track of how often I was put on hold while she typed stuff and re-asked for my credit card’s expiration date, but it was hard not to laugh at the absurdity. I have this mental picture of a hot, cramped room where someone has to shovel coal into a boiler while another person radios up to “the boss upstairs.”

When all was done, I received three email confirmations. Amusingly, the two for the conference rate are in plain, hard-to-read text with no attempts to market additional service. The reservation at the rack rate is in colorful, picture-laden text with tie-ins to the concierge services offered and “signed” by the manager of the hotel.