Geisha with Cell
This stuff happens sometimes even with the big boys of travel bookings such as Expedia or Travelocity, or major airlines such as United or Icelandic, which last year offered round-trip tickets to Iceland for just $39. Mistakes. Some tired programmer or data underling late at night just puts the wrong prices on the website.
A goose egg often honored by major websites, even though everybody recognizes that it was just an honest mistake. Still, it's great fun and the publicity is probably worth honoring some of these outrageous deals.
Recently, Expedia screwed up on their hotel listings in Japan and offered rooms in first-class Hiltons for just a few bucks. They intend to honor all reservations made for the month of November, but the guy who reserved a room for an entire year is just out of luck.
The story is then followed by a snippet about an ingenious way to save money on accommodations in China including Shanghai: spend the night on a cot in a bathhouse with plenty of available extras. That actually sounds excellent to me.
Asia for $10 a night (and less)
Nov 9, 2005
Sleeping on the super-cheap just became a wacky reality. From China's bathhouse hotels that offer the barest definition of sleeping accommodations to a snafu on Expedia for hotels in Japan, this week is all about scoring a deal in Asia.
If you had excellent timing last weekend, you might be one of the incredibly lucky folks who booked rooms at the Hilton Osaka and Hilton Tokyo hotels. A number of readers wrote to say they were alerted to a mistake on Expedia that allowed rooms to be booked at those two properties for between $2 and $4 a night.
Charles Bu, a math professor at Wellesley College in Mass., scored a week in Osaka in April and two weeks in an executive floor king room in August at the bargain rate of $3.55 a night, plus tax. Including free breakfast and Internet access, his one-week stay tops out at $33.52. I just tried to book this same room, same days, and the total? About $2,443.00, Bu notes the trouble seems to be Expedia's currency conversion rate, and it doesn't take a mathematician to see they definitely had a problem.
Flyertalk.com's message boards are filled with reader postings on the "sale." One man even claims to have booked rooms for an entire year at the Hilton Tokyo; now he's trying to find a job to go along with his new "home."
Alas, when things sound too good to be true, they often are. We asked Expedia whether they would honor these reservations. According to spokesman David Dennis:
"A pricing error occurred on Friday night, and rooms at two Hilton International hotels in Japan were advertised at the wrong price due to an isolated processing incident. As soon as the error, which was obvious to consumers, was noticed, it was immediately rectified.
"Expedia and Hilton stand behind consumers. And to resolve this episode in a fair and equitable way, the following solution has been reached:
"If a booking was made for the month of November, Hilton will honor the reservation at the quoted price. But if a booking was made for December or beyond, it will be cancelled Â unless it is part of a package, which Expedia.com will honor."
Now it's your turn: Do you think Expedia and Hilton are acting in 'a fair and equitable way' by honoring part of the bookings made? Or do you think all bookings should be honored? I'd like to hear your thoughts, so e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post a follow up in next week's column.
Sleep on a chair, save a bundle
The Japanese capsule hotels have been around a while now, but now we have Chinese bathhouses getting into the lodging business. For about $10 a night, you get a hot shower, a recliner to sleep in, breakfast and a massage, The Wall Street Journal (free story) reports. One female marketing executive, after balking at the super-high hotel prices in Shanghai, chose the recliner route on a recent trip. "It gets noisy, but it is still a bargain," she said.
Once the bastion of business men in need of a soak, bathhouses are morphing into cheap accommodations, with some even offering entertainment options (think arcades Â this is a family publication) and even swimming pools.
I'm not sure how this would go over in the U.S. where personal space is almost a requirement, but I bet there could be a market for it in NYC, where hotel rates are once again astronomical.
USA Today Link