A couple of days ago I promised to continue detailing my experience of booking a hotel via the web for an upcoming business trip to Amsterdam. Where I left off then was departing the KLM hotels website in search of somewhere else to make the booking. I decided to have a look at Kayak,  kayak-shot-of-nh-and-easytobookand the hotel I was searching for showed up for only €67 via a site called easytobook. After clicking on the link to be redirected, I found that upon arrival at easytobook they were planning to add 5% to the price quoted on Kayak and would charge my card immediately. The second part wasn’t such a problem, although I’d normally prefer to be charged when I leave the hotel; but the 5% extra leaves a bad taste in your mouth as it means the price on Kayak was incorrect. It reminds me of the bad old days when many airlines were quoting prices exclusive of taxes and charges which meant absolutely nothing to a consumer trying to compare.

Next I went to look at Opodo, an Amadeus owned OLTA. opodo-spain-and-uk-compared1 This was interesting as the Spanish site was quoting me €70.32 but there were no photos for the property I was interested in. The UK site prices in Sterling but with a Euro approximation, and most interesting of all, contained around 10 photos of the NH City Centre Hotel in Amsterdam. It is much easier for me to work in English than in Spanish, so I’d prefer to book on an Englisg language website where possible; but I prefer to be charged in Euros, so I didn’t want to book on the UK site. The Spanish version of Opodo does not give English as an option, and as I was doing the searching with this blog post in mind, I didn’t mind spending a few more minutes checking out one more site. Seeing as my work focus is on airline direct channels, it seemed strange not to have a look at the hotel direct website.

The NH’s own website has some of the most painfully slow to load pages from a major company I have experienced in quite some time. But I’d killed enough time on my search so far using other sites that it was going to take more than a slow loading page at this stage in the process to stop me buying. I suspect for other consumers, the slow loading pages would have been an instant turn off, as normally it would have been for me.

I found the hotel I wanted and the page said minimum price of €79.00. When I clicked on the purchase button and moved to the next page I was offered a price of €70.32, exactly the same price Opodo in Spain was quoting – at least it wasn’t higher than the previous page, but I doubt NH intended it to be this way!

NH call back feature

NH call back feature

  The other interesting part of the site was the button on the purchase page (circled in red in the image) allowing me to leave my telephone number and have an NH staff member return the call to close the sale or answer any questions. It reminded me a little of the Norwegian airline Wideroe who have a chat feature on their homepage, although what I liked about NH was that as it is on the page with hotel location and price quoted, it should make any calls to customers much quicker to close. This assumes the information from this screen is passed to the call centre agent – it sounds obvious, but from the many of the call centres I’ve visited or called, I’ve learnt to never assume that things always work in the way common sense assumes they should. 

Maybe I should have added my phone number to see how it worked, but by this stage I was ready to just enter the credit card digits, pay my €70.32, and secure a room in Amsterdam. And that part of it worked effortlessly.