I like the idea of being able to find and book hotels with the browser on my phone. It should be much easier than making endless rounds of phone calls to hotels that turn out to have no rooms available and without the language barrier in places where you don’t speak the language well. The major hotel chains are starting to get mobile too – so today I’m looking at a couple of new hotel WAP sites. A start is generally a good thing but one of these sites is so bad that I’m afraid it will actually discourage potential users from trying to use their phone to find hotels.
Marriott This is the Hotel’s hotel chain’s worldwide directory of hotels. Unfortunately, Marriott’s site is much less useful than it could be. You can’t check availability or book a room on the site. That would be excusable if it wasn’t so awkward to actually find a hotel. First you have to choose whether you want to search by country, US State, or hotel brand. As Mariott is a US based operation and has many more hotels in the US than abroad the most popular search is likely to be by State. So I tried to find a hotel in San Francisco. I first had to choose a state from a menu of A-C | D-H | I-L | M | N | O-S | T-V | W-Z. I choose A-C which took me to a screen which first listed the whole A-C | D-H | I-L… menu all over again. Duh, I already made that choice and now that menu is filling up an entire screen on my phone which I scroll past to get to select California. That took me to a page where after again scrolling past that pesky A-C | D-H | I-L I got to select cities starting with S. After clicking on the S link I got a page which started off with A-C | D-H | I-L thing again followed by 5 hotels in Sacramento and a Next link. I had to scroll through six more screens of redundant menu links and links to hotels in cities other than San Francisco to get to the Next link at the bottom of each page. I finally reached the first San Francisco hotel! But wait, this San Francisco hotel is actually in the suburb of Larkspur a good 20+ miles from San Francisco. A few more clicks to get to the Next link at the bottom of the page and I’m finally looking at a San Francisco hotel1! I’m sorry Marriot, but that is one of the worst user interfaces I’ve ever seen on any device anywhere. I counted the clicks it took to find my San Francisco hotel – 111 clicks! With the GPRS latency and having to go through 10 screens it took about 5 minutes as well. Once you find a hotel you can view directions to it and call it to check availability and make a reservation.
Content: Usability: xhtml
The name Accor is not widely known in The US, but it is one of the largest hotel chains world wide Accor‘s Has US hotels under the Sofitel, Red Roof Inn and Motel 6 names. They also have a better than average WAP site. The site is multilingual as an international chain’s should be. Navigation is pretty good and you can check availability. After selecting English (German and French are the other options) you get a textbox where you type a city. Partial searches work, I typed “San F”, scrolled past the optional Brand combo box to the Start Search link and bingo I was on a page with 2 choices San Fernando CA and San Francisco CA. I clicked San Francisco and got 8 choices. None were actually in San Francisco – it seems Accor doesn’t have any San Francisco hotels but they were in the metro area. Even if you search for a city where there is an Accor hotel it won’t necessarily be listed before hotels in surrounding areas. You can check availability and if you register at www.accorhotels.com you can add hotels to your a favorites list for quick access. Registered users can also have SMS reservations confirmations sent to their phones.
Content: Usability: wml