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Searching to the ends of the earth

The accessibility of "free" information on the Web through the efficiency of search engines fools even the most clever bargain hunter. We think that it's possible to get a better deal by searching the Web. I confess whole-heartedly to being a victim of this phenomenon, that is, spending my precious time searching for the best deal.

Two months ago, my friend and I confirmed that we would rendezvous in Amsterdam. I personally visited the three star hotel I had in mind in February. The receptionist informed me that it was Easter Weekend, and the Germans would be flooding Amsterdam to see the tulips. The hotel was already completely booked for that weekend. So I leisurely went the Internet route. But there were so many hotels, it was hard to tell them apart. Besides, I had read a newspaper article that said - for flights, book as early as possible. For hotels, book as late as possible. I learned only too late that the exception was - during special holidays such as Easter Weekend.

Who knows how much time I have spent on this mind-numbing activity of searching the Web for good hotel deals. Since my friend has never been in Amsterdam before, I was anxious to be a good host, only to the extent that I know the city better than she. In the back of my mind, I wanted to stay in a hotel that had spa facilities, for it would be nice to swim and relax.

Instead of doing my research properly, such as assessing the importance of location, how much time we had to sightsee, the value of quality time, conversation and cuisine in character restaurants, etc., I spent my time searching for the relative "value for money" of hotels listed on expedia and

This sort of behaviour is so typical of people who aren't aware of their preferences and trade-offs. With each passing day, my strategy of waiting for last minute bargains seems to fail. Only five star hotels remain. Sure, they may have swimming pools and expensive restaurants, but these hotels are also impersonal. For the business traveller, yes. But not for two friends meeting from opposite ends of the earth.

18 March 2002 Monday

Searching for best airfares:
For hotels:
If you're really desperate, try Priceline
In the end, I abdicated. I called my Dutch friend and confessed that I really didn't want to pay to stay in Amsterdam, where I'd go on company expense for conference meetings. That's why I didn't apply the right strategy and didn't reserve a room in advance. There is always a reason for not committing. So my Dutch friend suggested: don't stay in Amsterdam! What a great idea!