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Centralized advance booking ridiculousness at the Travelodge today
Travelodge in general
Member Name: worst_trip
Travelodge in general
Advantages: Motels are generally OK and OK value - IF you can get to stay in them
Disadvantages: Centralized advance booking system doesn't always work
After an hour spent trying to book a 'saver' (non-refundable) room advertised at £35 per night from the Travelodge website, and three calls to their helpline (an 0871 number charged at 10p per minute, with very slow call screening to ensure you stay on the line for ages) to find out what was going wrong, I have given up and booked a room at the Days Inn motel chain instead.
Having stayed at Travelodges in the past, I get regularly inundated with email offers from this chain promising me super cheap rooms - from £19 per night, etc., but for some reason I have never, never been able to take up one of these offers in practice.
Perhaps because I'm not booking far enough in advance - or because most of the special offer Travelodge rooms are located in back of beyond places far, far off the beaten track.....after failing to book my night's stay in Carlisle for example, I was offered the 'alternative' of a saver room in Barrow-in-Furness - a mere 70-odd miles from my destination of choice! I'm sure Barrow-in-Furness has much to recommend it, but not if your object is to hack up the M6 en route from England to Scotland as quickly as possible, incorporating only a single, hurried, overnight roadside stay.
That's the thing about Travelodges: they are best regarded as overnight accommodation for people in transit since I can't see anyone wanting to spend a lot of their time in one of these places.
So, my problem was with trying to book an advance room today, as the Travelodge website as it currently operates is a joke. I had to put in my debit card details and the details of an alternative card half a dozen times each, then had to reset my pasword twice and STILL the offered room - which continued to happily appear in my online 'shopping basket' couldn't be booked. Having rung the manager of the branch I wished to stay at to confirm that x12 charges for £35 wouldn't be appearing on my next bank statement, I was told that none of the bookings had gone through, although I don't know if I really believe that.
While the motels themselves, if you can actually get to stay in them, are in general OK, although the quality of the rooms and the cleanliness of the bathrooms is definitely variable between branches. The worst I ever stayed in for example was a rat-trap hostelry off the M11 in Essex - whereas some of the newer or newly refurbished, less popular branches can be nice enough for the money (usually around £50 a night).
The problem is getting to stay in the hotels in the first place, becasue of Travelodge's centralized advance booking system: when this works it is, again, generally OK, but when it doesn't - as in my experience today - it's a wholly frustrating experience for the customer. This is because rooms can't be pre-booked via the actual motels themselves; you have to go through the website (the only option from which alledgely, the saver offers can be purchased although obviously not in my recent experience) or via a call-centre (part of the 0871 racket) where they can't offer you saver offers or discounts, but will try to flog you a load of 'alternative' rooms at the usual rate instead). When the website is glitching as it was today, there is nothing that anybody either at the motels themselves or at the call centre can do about it, which seems ridiculous.
They've definitely lost our custom through the uselessness of their centralized booking system today; if my cards aren't charged I'll probably try and book at Travelodge if I need to in future, but I shan't bother messing about with the website to try to get it to work again, certainly.
Summary: Over-advertised 'special offers' impossible to take up in practice
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