Travel Related Gobbler

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for yet another holiday tradition – DRA’s annual Turkey and Eagle Awards. Each year this legal advocacy group recognizes businesses and organizations who lead the way in improving access (the Eagles); along with businesses or individuals who demonstrate enormous insensitivity to the needs of people with disabilities (the Turkeys).

This year travel related businesses made both the Turkey and the Eagle list. And in both cases I think DRA made excellent choices.

Today, lets talk Turkey.

I’m pleased to announce that DRA legal granted Turkey status to a long-standing thorn in my side…..drumroll please…..

hotels.com.

Yes, that’s right the evil hotel consolidator made the list. Why? It’s pretty simple — because you just can’t book an accessible room there. Oh sure, the reservation system will take your request for an accessible room (along with your money) yet it won’t block that accessible room.

To be fair, no hotel consolidator will do that, because they buy blocks of rooms from hotels and they are unable to guarantee a specific room to a specific customer. In the end they treat a request for an accessible room just like a request for a room with an ocean view. Sometimes you get it, but more often than not you don’t. And if you don’t, you are still stuck with that cancellation fee. A rather stiff cancellation fee, I might add.

To add insult to injury, I’ve also discovered a good number of so-called accessible travel websites that actually use hotel consolidators (like hotels.com) as their booking engines. So here is a huge BUYER BEWARE warning. Never ever, use a hotel consolidator to book an accessible room. You won’t get an accessible room and you will loose your money.

To make things more complicated, hotel consolidators don’t come right out and tell you they are hotel consolidators. Most say they are a reservation system or a discount hotel website, and in some cases they even appear to be seamlessly included in other websites. But there are two sure fire ways to spot the evil hotel consolidator.

  1. They require payment in advance on your credit card; meaning they actually charge your credit card when you make your reservation. This is not standard practice in the hotel industry.
  2. They only allow you to “request” an accessible room. Although there is usually a drop down menu to select an accessible room, the fine print (sometimes the very fine print), says that this selection is only treated as a request.

So think before you click. Never book a room through a hotel consolidator. And if you find a hotel consolidator linked to an accessible travel website, e-mail the website owners and complain. It’s time to speak up.

Gobble! Gobble!