When walk-in hotel rate is cheaper

It's expected of a happy-go-lucky person to travel without booking hotel accommodation because all there is to worry about is a place to park for the night, but if you are spending more than a night at any place you better book in advance.

One of our friends recently returned from France. She booked a hotel room for two nights via the internet thinking that she would be able to extend her booking if the need arose. She checked into the hotel and found it was alright, except that the room was rather small, but felt too lazy to look for another place.

But the morning after when she told the hotel that she wanted to extend her stay to ten days, she was told that that was not possible because the room was not available on some days.

She had to look for accommodation elsewhere. Fortunately, she found one next to the hotel she was staying in and it was better _ more spacious room, wider range of facilities and cheaper too.

That's when she realised that the internet rate can be much higher than the walk-in rate.

Customer complaint
`The customer is king,'' is what all marketing men have to keep in mind. This applies even more to those in the hotel and hospitality business. All customer complaints should be handled in a professional manner. But that is easier said than done.

Following is a true story of a guest who stayed as a business guest at a standard hotel in Europe and you can judge yourself if the hotel staff delivered the service professionally.

In the morning when the guest in question reported for breakfast he found the restaurant full of tourists who not only occupied all the seats but had eaten up all the food.

Disappointed as one should be, the guest complained to the hotel staff who promptly said the problem would be taken care of. That evening when our friend returned to her room on the TV screen appeared a message which read something like, ``Since the hotel has received a lot of complaints from guests regarding insufficient food for breakfast, may we remind you that you should wake up and go down earlier so that you have food to eat.''

Well, that is some way of dealing with customer complaints. Sounds a bit weird, doesn't it?.

As safe as it can be

The southernmost province of Narathiwat is known to harbour a large Muslim population and it's no secret why Western tourists are reluctant to travel there.

At the height of the war in Iraq a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) staff told Horizons that he was often asked by foreign tourists whether it was safe to travel to the province bordering Malaysia.

``Many tourists, especially Americans, asked me if they would be attacked by Muslims if they travelled to Narathiwat,'' said the TAT staff.

``And what did you say?'' we asked out of curiosity.

``Well, don't tell anybody that you are American. I'm a Muslim too but I'm not going to do any harm to you. Believe me. That was what I said.''

Of course, the tourist was shocked. He walked away from the TAT officer. What ever was on the mind of that tourist we don't know but we did pray for him that he wouldn't encounter any untoward incident while touring the southern region.

Travel tips to Europe

Travel guides make backpacking through Europe sound easy. The idea that you could travel from Paris to wake up the next morning in Venice seems almost too good to be true.

They promote the idea for the low-budget traveller And if you don't keep some pointers in mind, the true experience is far from that image.

A Travel Talk fan shared her experience from backpacking in Europe. She said there are still more to know and to learn that even the best guide books have never told their readers.

Here are a few more tips for travellers wanting to go backpacking in Europe.

- Almost every camp site has a swimming pool. At night, when no one is making use of it, you can keep your water bottles cool by putting them in the pool water.

- Many trains charge an additional amount above the regular ticket price. This is almost always the case with the Couchette, the sleeper trains, and many high-speed trains, such as the Thalys and the TGV.

- Sometimes even regular trains charge you an additional fair as well. Italian trains are notorious for charging supplements whenever they feel like it. Check first to see if you need to pay extra. In many countries trains which require a supplement are marked on the timetable in red.

- Many European trains split in two parts half-way through the journey with the two halves ending up at different destinations. Each carriage should carry a sign indicating the stops en-route with the destination station clearly marked. Make sure you get on the right carriage by checking the seat number on your ticket.

Read more about Europe travelling in this blog