It’s not easy being green

My hotel room, in common with every hotel room I’ve stayed in in the past 10 or more years, is very “green”. What I mean by that is that it has little notices like this:

There are a few variations, but basically they are asking guests to indicate whether they want their sheets or towels replaced, reminding us of the damage we are doing to the environment by washing things to often. Continue reading It’s not easy being green

Agent of good

How to book the best room?
How to book the best room?

Once upon a time, there was little choice. If you wanted to travel, you had to engage the services of a travel agent.

Now, most people do their airline, hotel and hire-car bookings online, bypassing the “middle man”. But is it any cheaper or smarter to do so?

On the first point, it is almost always as cheap or cheaper to book online, especially when you shop around. When booking a hotel room, I often go first to a third-party provider such as Expedia, Agoda, Points Hound or Rocketmiles — or a site that aggregates many such sites — to choose a hotel. Then I go to the hotel’s own website to see if they can match or better the price. If the cost is the same, the trick is to work out who is going to give you the best deal on loyalty points. (The process with airline tickets is pretty much the same.)

However, the hotel itself is not always the best place to shop. I once had the absurd experience of sitting in the foyer of the Dusit Thani hotel in Pattaya, Thailand, where I had just spent three nights, booking an extra night over a third-party provider  because neither the hotel reception staff nor the Dusit Thani’s own website could match the price.

But there are compelling arguments in favour of using a travel agent. The first is that all that online comparison is time-consuming and often confusing. Sometimes it’s more efficient and sensible to pay somebody to do the legwork (or, in this case, keyboard work) for you.

Also, if you have a good travel agent, they will be able to dig deeper and find bargains — and destinations — that you’ll never find. Many of them will also have valuable first-hand information and be able to offer advice that will add value to your holiday.

So, if you’re not a seasoned traveller — or even if you are, but you’re too busy to devote a few hours to your pursuit of a bargain– it’s more than OK to seek out expert advice.