Saving money on hotels with Windows Mobile

This month, we were asked to talk about what is the most creative thing we've done with our Windows Mobile device. At first, I was thinking about a few custom applications I have written for my "day job". But then, I thought it would be more interesting to discuss something that anyone can do using nothing but the built-in applications.

So here's a little story about how I saved money on a hotel room with the help of my Windows Mobile phone - and not with William Shatner.

Before all the airline and hotel chains had their own web sites, it was common to be able to walk into the lobby of a hotel and ask if they had rooms available for that night and if so, if they could give you a good deal since they needed to fill the rooms.

It seems that now, the policy is to only give the best discounts for online reservations in order to encourage customers to book their own rooms. This reduces their labor costs because the web sites are completely automated.

I discovered this change the hard way when I walked into a major chain hotel just before 6:00PM one day looking for a room. I was visiting a customer's office that day and realized that might have to come back in the morning. While at their office, I looked up the nearest hotel online for which I had a "frequent guest club" membership and checked the price. Unfortunately, when I got to the hotel, I discovered that they would not give me the online price at the front desk.

Fortunately, I had my Pocket PC Phone with me. Told the clerk I would check on my options before getting the room at the higher price he was offering. I then stepped a couple of feet away from the check-in desk and used Pocket Internet Explorer to go to the hotel web site. Since I was using GPRS, it loaded a bit slowly, but I took the time to navigate the page and found the special online price was still being offered. I then booked the room using the Pocket PC and after I got the confirmation number on the screen, I walked back to the desk and told the clerk that my reservation should now be in the system.

Sometimes computer networks really do work the way we expect them to, and my reservation was there instantly on his screen! The clerk thought that this was really cool and even gave me a room upgrade just because he was so impressed.

I do have one word of caution about doing this: I have discovered that some hotel web sites now have "mobile" versions that are different enough from their "desktop" version that they don't always offer the same lowest rates! This really surprised me, so it's worth checking the sites for your favorite hotels, airlines and rental car companies in advance. If you find that the don't provide the lowest rates on their mobile sites, then you might want to use a "registry editor" utility such as Tweaks2k2 to "fool" web sites into thinking that you are using a desktop version of Windows and Internet Explorer to access their site.

If you have a favorite story of how you used your Windows Mobile device to access a web site, please let me know by posting a comment below.

LOL at the Shatner comment!

Tim Hillebrand's picture

Thanks for the tip. I'm reading this in a motel room on a road trip just using my auto club card for discounts. Tonight I'll be sure to try your trick to see how much I save.

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