Update: By sending fax and email log files, Renée De Meo from Venere proved that it was actually the mistake of the Arcadia Hotel Belmondo.
For most web professionals, the Internet is like a religion. We evangelize the almost endless opportunities of the medium and try to convince people to trust new technologies. It almost sucks us up, and creates some sort of tunnel vision. So when a new technology lets us down, it hits us extra hard. It happened to my co-editor Patrick and me.
We traveled to Hamburg, Germany last Thursday to visit the one-day conference Next08. Right before we left, I booked a hotel via Venere.com. Quite last minute, but hey, we’re busy guys. Moreover, that’s where these services are for. I browsed around, looking for an affordable hotel within walking distance of the Next08 venue and ended up at the Arcadia Hotel Belmondo. When I completed the reservation, I was happily surprised with the confirmation message via SMS.
So after a rather tiring six-hour drive with traffic jams and without a navigation system, Patrick and me arrived at the hotel. A bit stressed, as we were late for the Facebook Developer Garage after party. Yet when we arrived at the reception, a nasty surprise was waiting for us. After a lot of shaking no with her head and desperate looks in our direction, the receptionist told us the hotel was fully booked and she couldn’t find our reservation. When I showed her the confirmation page on my MacBook, she told me that it should have been impossible for us to make a reservation on that very day, as she had closed the booking system in the morning.
There we were standing, two angry young men. Utterly disappointed in the so-beloved medium. In our anger, we decided to write a blog post titled: “when the Internet fails”. Apparently, the disappointment got to our head, as it wasn’t the fault of the medium. It was the fault of one of world’s largest booking sites, Venere. The technology didn’t fail, the people behind the technology did.
Our faith in the web was renewed when the receptionist gave us two WLAN access cards. Within five minutes, we found an excellent last minute offer from a design hotel called Arcotel Rubin. Two minutes later we booked the room on Hotels.com and ten minutes later we were checking into a very comfortable hotel.
So all you fellow technology evangelists out there. Next time you try to make people trust the web, use this story to explain that when new technology fails, it’s often the people and not the whole medium. That might sound familiar to them, as it’s often also the case with technologies that exist for decades. Explain to them that they can use a broad range of new super handy tools, with the same or less risk.