Hotel planning before the Internet

Jan 21st, 2007, 10:02 AM
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Hotel planning before the Internet

Back in the days when it wasn't possible to ask questions on travel sites or view properties' web sites for photos and other information, how did you research hotels and other accommodations?
Underhill is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:06 AM
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Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:07 AM
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- Guidebooks
- Travel agents
- Local tourist information
- Booking service at local train station or airports (some free, some paid)
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Hi U,

The first European hotel I booked, I found in "Europe on $10 a Day".

(Sorry Fodor's, but I was on a strict budget. )

The second I found through the VVV office in the Amsterdam train station.

The third was at the tourist info office at the Copenhagen train station.

Back in them there days we had lower expectations.

ira is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Karen Brown books.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 11:29 AM
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Publications such as "The London Advertiser," guidebooks, travel agents, and recommendations from other travelers.
Dukey is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Frommer/Fodor books were my biggest source of info for hotels and everything else. I still buy guidebooks but this board is now my main source of info.
P_M is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 11:53 AM
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I used a mix of guidebooks, travel articles, then I'd call and request a brochure and see if I could get a feel for the place by if the staff was helpful and friendly on the phone... or not. (I still do that after I-net research. LOL!)
moneygirl is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 11:57 AM
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I used guidebooks and I also wrote away for brochures--pretty slow but I found some good hotels that way.
outwest is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 12:06 PM
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If arranging accommodations before a trip I'd use national, regional or local tourist agencies (often with US offices) for lists and contact info. I'd then call hotels directly and make a reservation. Many guidebooks listed the contact info at consulates or tourism bureaus in the US.

Back then I found that I could count on * rating for a hotel to have a consistent quality standard, at least within a country or region. 3* hotel/gasthof in Germany always meant, clean, comfortable, albeit basic accommodation. Same 3* in Sorrento was lower quality, so 4* was well advised.

When traveling solo I'd very often use local info center at train station upon arrival - they'd give me a list of open rooms, location, price, and book a room on the spot. Q.E.D.

J62 is online now  
Jan 21st, 2007, 12:14 PM
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I used guidebooks to research possible choices then sent letters to several and awaited their replies (had to plan months in advance for the international mail).

Then when fax machines became available I used to fax letters and but I had to remember to turn my modem on before I went to bed at night since that's when the replies from Europe would come in. I remember many a night hearing the phone ring and the fax beep in the middle of the night.
vinolover is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 12:36 PM
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Thankfully I am too young to remember of the dark days you mention !
Jan 21st, 2007, 01:03 PM
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Then you don't know the joys of delayed gratification! I always loved getting brochures in the mail and looking through quite a few guidebooks to get validation of my choices.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 01:20 PM
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It was a blast doing it "the old" way. My first trip to Europe was right out of college, w/my sister, in late winter, and we only had reservations for our first few nights in Amsterdam. All done by very snailish snail mail. Remember those old onion-skin international mail letter thingies? Sigh.

The entire remainder of the 3-month trip we did by the seat of our pants. Europe on $5, recs from fellow travellers, and sometimes we slept on beaches and in train stations (daddy & mommy didn't know until we returned, of course!) Nobody would even consider worrying about such a thing as reservations for museums, ferries, etc. -- we just paid our entrance fee and walked in, and had plenty of viewing space around us, too!

I enjoy the opportunities for research & virtual-room-inspection, etc., that we have now, but the old way was definitely fun in a totally different way.
LucieV is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Guidebooks--but I tried to look for places that were listed in more than one.

Recommendations from friends when I could get them.
DejaVu is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 02:04 PM
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The old way was a blast, especially the romance. She was studying in France, I in Germany. We'd met in Austria, had a wonderful, flirting evening before she caught the midnight train back home. Letters back and forth, but no phone calls, no email.

I still remember arriving at Florence train station, not sure if she would be there as promised. Sure enough, she was. Wonderful weekend, and she remained my long distance sweetheart even after we returned to US some months later.
ipod_robbie is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 02:17 PM
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I'd see ads in magazines and get brochures. It was MUCH harder, the internet has been a wonderful equalizer (for the good hotels, anyway!)
nbodyhome is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 03:04 PM
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Guidebooks, particularly the Let's Go guides. Then writing letters to the hotels and including those "international reply coupons" with the letters to pay the postage for the hotels' responses.
After Let's Go, I paid most heed to the recs in the old European Travel & Life magazine. However, most of the time, I couldn't afford the hotels recommended. But it was fun looking.
BTilke is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 03:14 PM
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Travel agents had massive books - one for each continent - and each the size of an unabridged dictionary. When doing trip myself I would use guidebooks for suggestions - then go to the corporate travel office to borrow the europe books for further info and options. (The in-house "agents" knew nothing of europe - they really just booked flights.)

If we wanted something special we would book through my travel agent (a real one, who had traveled extensively in europe and could get us all sorts of extras since she worked for AmEx).
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 03:33 PM
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Funny, I was just thinking about this yesterday. I would go to the local library (it's a really amazing community library), take out as many books on the region as I could, spread them all out on the dining room table, and then cross-reference for consistency in recommendations.

Of course, I would speak to people who had travelled to my destination.

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