Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gnome on the Range - The Travelocity Song

Have any of you used Travelocity? You know the site with the cute little gnome that helps you get cheap rates. Well the rates are cheap. But then there are the surprises. The rooms you can get for a cut rate, but add on the taxes and the mysterious "fees" your room has gone up 20%. Yes, in addition to the city tax, hotel tax, airport tax, the "we offer both undrinkable caffeinated AND decaffeinated coffee in your room" tax, there is a "fee" that is unexplained and adds on quite a few bucks to your room cost.

So after little sleep, a long day and the cab ride from hell (I guess the problem with his steering might have been all the dead pedestrians wedged into the undercarriage) I arrive at my "Three and a half star" hotel. My non smoking room had an ashtray in it. Not a good sign. There were TV problems, the regular TV worked, but none of the (ahem) movies did. OK, I'll go swim to get some exercise. Sorry pool heater broken. (Water may not be as warm as we would like translates to "no running or diving off the ice floes.")

Check in at most hotels and find a room different than what you purchased, problems, services advertised out, Internet or movie channels inop or problems in general, and the hotel itself will usually make it up to you some way. I rarely complain, but when I've had to, I've been upgraded on my next stay at their chain or had a room comped. But not when you book through Travelocity. The hotel desk clerk will tell you, with that look doctors give you when they say you have 36 hours to live, "you need to call Travelocity's customer service". Sure they guarantee "your booking will be right" but when you call their customer service, not only do you get someone in India, they have a command of the English language that consists of the phrases "thanks for calling Travelocity" and "no".

So for them, I wrote a little song, which you can sing along to the tune of Roger Millers classic.

Hotel suite for modest rent
but taxes add like 20 percent
No porn, no pool, no pets
place reeks of cigarettes
Ah, but ten hours of wearing flannels
while relaxing with some 50 channels
I'm a gal of means by no means
Queen of the Road



Rev. Paul said...

That's a classic. I suspect most of us have been in similar situations; we learned to used other sources for making reservations after a similar experience, some years ago. I don't think we were offered ice diving, though.

Those lyrics are priceless.

Tango Juliet said...

Hahahahahaha! Great lyrics!!

Guffaw in AZ said...

Love the tune!

Keads said...

As TJ said, great lyrics! And I have been there. Never again. William Shatner is NO WHERE to be found when these things occur!

Mike said...


I sense a contest in the works for verse #2!


Midwest Chick said...

Himself says that using any of those cutrate services causes a lot of problems on both sides of the desk. You can use them to find your hotel and then make your reservation directly with the hotel.

If you use them, then you can't upgrade or change or get your money back unless you go through the service.

Sorry you had the trip from Hades.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Google and a telephone call works best for me. All of my travel is domestic.

Murphy's Law said...

I hate that Gnome. It's like the anti-Flo. (Can't get her out of my head now...thanks!)

I am sorry that you couldn't order any of those "ahem" movies though. Those can be the best thing about staying in a motel...or so I've heard. ;-)

Hat Trick said...

Ha! Great Lyrics!

Reminds me of a trip for training years ago. Our travel coordinator booked us into the closest motel to the training center. Run down place in a high crime neighborhood. Watched the police trying to chase down a guy that had just held up the steakhouse next door one evening.

Roscoe said...

For two cross-country drives this past fall, I booked hotels myself based on AAA suggestions. The only problems I encountered were at one of the sad chain hotels clinging to life support outside Nashville near the Opryland themepark-turned-mall-turned-floodzone.

Having lived in a tourist zone most of my life, I know the kinds of places where Priceline and Travelociy sometimes send people.

Cough ... Orlando Econo Lodge ... cough.

BTW, "The Shat" has a net worth somewhere over $500 million thanks to Priceline. The common perception of the man is that he is something of a buffoon, but, even after the stock collapsed, Shatner insisted on continuing to be paid for the commercials with shares believing that the company would turn it around.

$500 million buys a lot of toupees.

Mrs. S. said...

Better luck next time. Would love to see a 2nd verse, hopefully no bedbugs involved.

Hubby and I don't travel much, but we enjoyed a roadtrip south to NC last spring. If you find yourself and Barkley in the neighborhood of Richmond, KY, check out the Bennett House B&B. They allow pets in the cottage with a $20/night additional charge. Other hotels charge less for rooms, but can hit you with a 1-time non-refundable pet charge almost as big as the room fee. They don't have a pool but do have a nice whirlpool tub in the bathroom, which is very welcome after 8+ hours of driving.

Stephen said...

LOL. Just Lol. :-)

Brigid said...

Murphy - seriously, they were educational movies. Wildlife movies in fact. I think the title of at least one had some furry woodland creature in it.

Roscoe - I think I've STAYED at that hotel before.

Mrs. S. - oh, I'm going to take note of that. I have little time for vacation outside of caring for my Dad but one of these days, a quiet weekend away in a B and B.

drjim said...

My sister and brother-in-law used them to book their room last February when they came out for the wedding.
They stuck 'em in one of the worst areas of Long Beach!
Cheap rate, though.
Anyway, they called Travelocity, and complained about where the room was, and the fact that they were senior citizens, and didn't feel safe there. The got them to "waive" the fees, and we got them an extremely nice room (suite, actually) over near LGB for hardly any more money.
If you don't know the city you're going to, BE CAREFUL! They might stick you in a not-so-nice part of town.
With the best rate, of course!

The Farmer said...

Love Roger Miller. Have the greatest hits album in my patrol. I hate dumpy hotels.

You can't roller skate through a buffalo herd...

Bob in Tampa said...

Hi, Brigid!

Great post! I checked in late one night to a very nice (expensive) hotel in downtown St. Louis. Met the porter at the room, he took my luggage in, accepted his tip and was gone in a flash.

I went into the bathroom ad noticed that it had not been cleaned properly. I turned on a light to find the phone to call the front desk.

When I did, I discovered a woman's suitcase opened up on one of the beds and makeup on the dressing table.

At first I thought it might be a perc of the hotel, but then quickly realized the error of my ways and got out of Dodge. I informed the folks at the front desk who told me that it was impossible for them to make such a mistake.

I told them they were probably right and that I would go back to "my" room. Also mentioned that when the lady came in, things would likely get very loud and nasty.

The staff recovered my luggage, gave me a comp letter and a suite on the executive floor. Nice!

BTW, the Blowing Rock, NC offer still stands!

Eric said...

Was the remote nailed down to the nightstand? Had that in the Days Inn in Antioch, TN back in '95.

Bob said...

I'm a hotel worker, so I can hopefully provide some good advice. :)

When using a 3rd party such as Travelocity or Priceline to book your room, the hotel is forbidden by contract with the 3rd party from disclosing the rate or giving you a receipt. Occasionally we slip up and slide a receipt under the door, at which point the guest sees the difference between what we charge the 3rd party and the 3rd party charges the guest. Outraged guest takes out anger on desk clerk. Did you think that was offering their service gratis? They make their profit on the difference between what they charge you and the hotel charges them, so they're going to charge you as much as they can get away with and still have you think that you got a bargain; typically, the "bargain" isn't that much better than the 10-15% discount you can get by being a member of AAA or AARP.

Where you can really make savings is by joining the various frequent stayer programs that the hotel chains offer. If you're on the road a lot, the savings and free nights add up quickly, especially since most of the chains offer seasonal promotions, as well. A typical promotion at Choice Hotels (Comfort, Quality, Clarion, Econolodge, Cambria) is a free night after two individual stays: that is, you can stay at one of the above on a Tuesday, travel and stay at another on Wednesday, and you've earned a free night.

When making reservations, you can try calling hotel chain 800 numbers first to see what rates are available (always ask for discounts, the reservationists are trained not to offer them unless asked), then try calling the hotel directly and get a better deal. Hotel desk clerks are in a low-paying entry-level job, and thus aren't motivated to maximize profit for their business; they will often quote a very low rate rather than go through the hassle of haggling with you.

If a hotel is run down (broken a/c units, the pool heater you mentioned) the cause is far more likely to be cheapness on the part of the franchise owner than it is the fault of the hotel manager. Most of the chain hotels have "100% Satisfaction Guarantees" that you can avail yourself of if you encounter such problems; it's best if you notify the hotel staff up front of problems you encounter, so they have a chance to fix them if possible.

Finally, bookmark Trip Advisor to see current quality ratings of hotels, based on customer feedback. Reading a review by a previous guest, e.g., OMG this hotel is next to a biker bar and the noise kept me up ALL NIGHT! can help you avoid surprises.

Jim said...

No naughty-vision? Good grief, what to do?


MaineMapleDave said...

"Those" films? Oh, you must mean "art" films:-) A fine way to learn about the local culture..............

I think everyone who travels has been there/done that.

We once stayed in a local establishment with: a ring around the tub (and someone else's hair in the drain); someone else's pillow dent and hair on the pillow; I'm pretty darned sure some insect-like-creatures..........

And NOTHING on the tube:-(

North said...

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Nathan said...

I've been a confirmed Marriott Rewards and Hilton HHonors customer for years. I won't stay anywhere else (unless it's with a group staying somewhere else, like the Westin O'Hare and Westin Book Cadillac Detroit where I've been for various events) and I have the points to prove it :) I book via the Internet with the AAA discount unless they have a web special that comes in for less.

We did a Hotels.Com reservation one time years ago for a trip down to Louisville for Thunder, and got a hell of a deal on a room in a Marriott TownePlace Suites that was practically under the US 31 bridge on the Indiana side. Turned out the hotel was truly p*ssed at whoever let those rooms go through at a bargain rate (as I recall it was $99/night) when everybody around them was getting $500+/night...

Ed Rasimus said...

Abandoned Travelocity about six years ago and went almost exclusively with Expedia. Now American Airlines, which is my primary source out of DFW, spurns the major services, so I book direct. Hotels, I do my own research or use the local Chamber-of-Commerce web links and often wind up with some great upgrades. Amer. Express offers good travel services as well. But there's many a slip twixt this, that and the other. Makes life an adventure!

Terry said...

I think you'll like this

Jerry said...


Have you seen the the YouTube video "Cheap Flights"? This one comes with subtitles.