…The Great Northern Road Trip 2020 : Hotels (1)
The story starts HERE.
Well, with the trip completed, I thought I’d add some comments about the hotels I stayed in. Someone might find this useful if they want to make a similar trip, or just visit one or two of the places on my itinerary.
But before getting into the specifics of the hotels, I wanted to relate my experiences with online booking services. I normally use either Agoda or booking.com. I find they have the best selection, and one of them will have the cheapest price.
On this trip my plans were a bit fluid. I didn’t want to book all the hotels in advance, and then, if my plans changed, have to go through the process of changing dates or cancelling and rebooking. So, before I left home, I booked two or three and then used the relevant app on my iPad to book others as needed. I confess, I got caught out with a couple of preferred hotels, as I left it late and discovered they were fully booked. It seems Thais were taking the opportunity between the two (so far!) Covid waves, to do some travelling. Not the end of the world.
Anyhoo, I’m going to relate a couple of stories regarding my experiences with Agoda, which I found less than satisfactory.
For my first night, I booked a hotel in Hua Hin. Within seconds I received a confirmation from the hotel. About a minute later, I received another confirmation message from a hotel in Hua Hin that I’d never heard of. I ignored it, but I did check with Google Maps to see where it was. The same small street as the one I had really booked. It made me wonder if someone was running down the road to tell the second hotel in the hope they could poach my business. As it turned out, that wasn’t the explanation.
But, the day before I left home I received reminders from the hotel I’d booked, and the hotel I hadn’t. Again, I ignored the second one.
When Ms. Chuckles proudly announced that I’d reached my destination, there was no sign of my hotel. I checked with Google Maps and sure enough, for once, Ms. Chuckles was correct. So, using my best Thaiglish, I wandered around asking people if they knew where my hotel was hiding. They all pointed to another one down the street, which had a different name. So, I went there anyways and asked if they had a reservation for me. They did. Then I realized this was the second hotel that had been sending me messages.
So, Agoda had switched my reservation without telling me. Unprofessional IMO. They’re very good at sending me five messages a day with special deals and discount coupons, so surely they could have sent me one message to say they’d switched my reservation.
I think it’s just as well they did, because as far as I could figure, this is the hotel I’d booked…
They still show it as available. Why couldn’t they just remove it from their list?
But that’s only half the Agoda saga. One hotel I booked, I think it was the second night in Ang Thong, sent me a polite message asking if they could have my phone number. I know hotels like to make sure you are going to use the reservation, especially if you haven’t paid in advance, and I hadn’t. So, I replied, with my phone number. Two minutes later another e-mail message arrived from the hotel, basically saying – sorry, but your phone number is all xxxes. They attached my message, and sure enough, my phone number had been changed to
I hunted around in the header of the e-mail and discovered that all messages between hotel and client go through Agoda servers. There’s no indication in the body of the message that this is happening. So, I assume this is not in fact a super-smart algorithm but that some poor sod, or sods, or sodesses, at Agoda have the task of vetting all e-mails. Frankly, I find this highly unethical.
Now, no doubt, when I first created my Agoda account, which would have been shortly after dinosaurs stopped roaming the earth, I agreed to Clause 97.22, subsection 42, or whatever, which in very tiny print told me that Agoda reserved the right to do this. I still find it unethical. It should be clearly stated in the message.
Needless to say, I’ve stopped using Agoda.