Usually the news is full of 2010 this and 2010 that. Of course, everyone is talking about the fact that our President was asked to leave, so 2010 has lost the limelight for a while.
I thought I’d paint a picture:
Pat and Marge are two normal people from just outside London. They are thinking of going to watch a game in Durban for 2010. It’s their first trip ever to the Colonies and very excited. Aeroplane tickets booked (no problem there) but now we need to book the hotel. They first try the City Lodge in Umhlanga. For some reason they aren’t able to get the booking completed online and so they phone the hotel directly. The African lady at the reception desk is unable to understand their English accent and after a few minutes says “I don’t understand you” and puts the phone down. Undeterred they try online again. Everything seems to go exactly according to plan. They even get a reference number.
The next day Pat realises they haven’t received the email confirmation and phones the hotel quoting their reference number. Unfortunately it seems that reference number is now invalid and there is no record of their booking. The man at the desk is very friendly and says he’s willing to make the booking over the phone. Oops! unfortunately the dates you want to stay here is overbooked! Sorry, we cannot help you. Try another hotel.
Pat decides to try the Protea Hotel. The Internet Site kicks them out completely. It simply isn’t able to process the transaction. For whatever reason. Pat phones the call centre number (which is supposed to be 24 hours) and is told that it is outside business hours and to try booking online. Well, he’s already tried that. Let’s call the hotel directly. The hotel charges almost R1000 more PER NIGHT for booking over the phone. When Pat tells the receptionist this, she says he should rather book online as the rates are cheaper. Yes, he says, he’s tried that a few times but the site bombs out. Oh, yes, she says, it happens a lot and customers are always complaining, but you should try again.
Sound far fetched?
I have now been trying since Saturday (It’s Wednesday today) to book a room at a hotel in Durban. I have tried City Lodge (I am a lodger member) and Protea Hotel (Prokard Member) and still no booking. I am used to South African inefficiency. I am used to being messed around by hotels and car rental companies and airlines.
Tourists in 2010 are doomed. In the UK everything WORKS first time. The very CONCEPT of getting a hotel booking with a reference number and then not having anything is scary. Imagine if I didn’t call the hotel up? Can you even imagine the chaos? Hundreds of People arriving at the hotel with non-existant reservation numbers? And what was it with the receptionist that hung up on me because she couldn’t understand my South African accent? How is she going to survive with a Welsh or Gordy accent? Or French or Italian.
They’re all doomed. Someone warn the tourists.
My free tip for these hotels: Get your act together. Foreigners are used to booking online, make sure the systems work. Protea Hotel – for heavens sake man!