I design websites. My specialty is usability. That background may make me oversensitive, but it seems that airline and hotel direct booking sites are particularly unusable. Here’s my most recent
experience frustration. It began with an email I received — a “Private Sale 50% Off” — from Accor Hotels. I jumped right on the site.
It looked like I had found the perfect hotel for an early-May stay just outside the lively Marais neighborhood in Paris. The website told me that a Mercure Hotel in the 11th arrondissement was one of “5 hotels [that] match your specific rates and all your criteria.“
“From $115.25 per night” sounded like a fabulous sale for Paris in May. My ecstasy turned to agony when I clicked “Book.”
“There are no special rates available for the type of room selected. The following rates are available:” None of those available rates was the “50% Off Private Sale” that originally brought me to the Accor website (rather than another hotel site or booking.com.)
I understand “my criteria” to mean what I search for. Right? When that search returns 5 “hotels that match [my] specific rates and all [my] criteria,” I expect those hotels to have the 50% off Private Sale rate I was searching. Anything else is a serious usability issue.
I’m not afraid of any website. I’ve seen them late into the night. I’ve seen the sun rise over them. I searched again.
This time the results were what I expected. (Albert Einstein is often given credit for saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Einstein would be amused by AccorHotels.com.)
This time I searched in a more “touristy” part of Paris and found the Hotel Baltimore Paris from Accor’s more upscale MGallery Collecton. I would miss some of the fun of the 11th, but I haven’t been to Paris often enough to become jaded; so staying in the 16th arrondissement near the Champs Élysées, the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadéro, and the Arc de Triomphe was fine with me.
The Baltimore had not just one sale offer, but multiple room categories from “Classic” to “Junior Suite” available at 50% off. Earlier, I read a lot of reviews about the hotel. The only credible negative comments I could find referred to a tiny room or bad room location. I read this to mean basic, “Classic” rooms could be a risk, so I selected a category up — “Deluxe” — to try to avoid any issues.
The rate was $1677, exactly half of the $3354 I had rejected as over my budget when I shopped hotels before the sale — not the $115.25 a night that had teased me at the Mercure Paris Bastille, but an ok rate.
After significant time spent pounding on the website, I recognized that AccorHotels.com successfully packages a lot of information for efficient mobile delivery; so there is hope that the same talented delivery/interface/presentation programmers who figured out how to cram all that information into my tiny mobile browser will fix the usability issues.
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Why You Should Consider Accor Hotels:
Accor Hotels is actively promoting and growing its selection of European properties. It’s a good time to stay at one of their hotels.
M Gallery is their collection of very cool, centrally located, often historic hotels. Fun examples: in Carcassonne or (La Bastide de) Gordes, hotels are located in the walls of ancient towns in France. Hotel Baltimore Paris is in an 18th century townhouse.
Pullman, Mercure and Novotel are “business” hotels that are well-located for tourists as well.
Ibis is often in the suburbs and always cheap, clean, and efficient.
If you book your stay using this link to the Accorhotels.com website and briefly tell me about your experience, I’ll gratefully acknowledge your comments and the small commission I receive.
Here’s a good deal if your plans are firm — 30% off for advance booking:
Another link, this time with a 2 night minimum stay: