Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

Corporate hotel bookings

I’ve been fuming at Amex, who deal with all Sun’s business travel, for being useless.  First with my trip to California, and now Amsterdam.

OK, California wasn’t their fault: it was arranged in great haste, and the pain was in having to go through a third-party rather than just book something online.  No matter how good or bad they are, the indirection meant delay, and therefore stress.

With Amsterdam, by contrast, we had a month’s notice.  I specified my travel preference (no problem), and listed four acceptable hotels in central Amsterdam (the conference hotel itself wasn’t an option, being already fully booked).  One of those hotels was listed as a clear first choice, but Amex came back with a ridiculous price of over 460 Euros per night on it – well over twice what expedia or hoteldiscount offered for the same hotel, had I been booking it myself.  After some time and two reminders, they booked me another hotel from my list.

Now this price, though vastly cheaper than the #1 choice, is still 20% above the expedia price on the same hotel.  And I was half-thinking that’s good: if the hotel is horrible, I have scope to move and save money.

But in fact there’s another side to it.  On arrival, I asked for a quiet nonsmoking room, which I have.  It’s also an executive room, which means the price is in fact pretty much the same as I’d have paid through expedia.  I don’t think that’s what was booked (Amex quoted a higher rate for an executive room here), so I’m guessing the hotel bumped me up (though that could easily be me getting confuzzled).  Well, I guess it’s good for a hotel’s business when a $bigco corporate guest recommends them to his colleagues, so it makes sense for the hotel.  Can’t complain too loudly.

As for the hotel itself, yes, I can recommend it as acceptable, and the nicest place I’ve stayed in Amsterdam (which includes the conference hotel itself, at the same price as this one).  But not a “you really must go there” kind of recommendation; just “you get what you pay for”, in a city where the tradeoff tends to be very expensive vs very grotty.