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Darren Cronian is the editor of Travel Rants, an award-winning consumer travel blog. He started writing in April 2005 after a frustrating experience booking a holiday with a high-street travel agency and has since been blogging his socks off about pretty much every conceivable aspect of travel. We asked him to write a few words about the things that most annoy him when searching for a hotel…

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As a kid I vividly remember my parents queuing up at the tourist information office, who would telephone a few hotels to check availability, and then we’d drive around trying to find the hotel in the nicest location for a weekend break at the seaside.

How times have changed.

The internet has really transformed how we search for and book hotels, but let’s be honest: while it doubtlessly has many advantages, there are some really annoying things about searching for hotels online and I wanted to share these annoyances with you today.

Frustrating search forms

I noticed on a number of hotel sites that the search isn’t intuitive – if I enter an arrival date, and I want to stay for 3 nights, I shouldn’t then have to enter a check-out date. Like many travellers I am flexible with the dates of travel, so I’d like to see the site check availability for a few days prior and after if there’s no availability for my chosen search dates.

Out-of-date availability calendars

There’s nothing more annoying than finding the perfect hotel, paying online, then receiving a phone call to inform you that the hotel is booked up. I have lost count how many times this has happened to me in the last couple of years, and it seems to happen with one or two hotel chains in particular, both of which I refuse to use now.

Hotel listings without photos or poor quality

One of my main annoyances are hotel listings with poor quality photos, or worse still no photos at all. How am I going to trust a hotel that has not made the effort to provide photographs? I need inspiring and photos are one of the biggest factors in my decision to book.

Poorly written hotel descriptions

One-line or poorly written hotel descriptions are not going to catch my imagination – I want to read what services the hotel provides (e.g. is there WiFi? does the room have a television? is there a gym or bar on site? It’s amazing how many hotel descriptions don’t cover this or are simply badly written.

Local currencies only

When booking hotels abroad, I don’t want to have to visit a currency converter website to view the rates in pounds – I will just go elsewhere. I’ve found this happen more on individual hotel websites, rather than hotel search engines.

Hard-to-read maps

Nowadays there’s no need to have a badly designed map when the likes of Yahoo and Google offer maps which you can embed into your hotel’s website. You’d be surprised how many hotel sites I have visited that provide a map that’s so hard to read I end up going to another mapping site to find the hotel’s location.

Confusing hotel ratings

I’ve ranted about this issue before, and I’d like to see a more uniform hotel classification system in the EU. On a recent search of hotels in London I found hotels classified with both diamonds and stars, which completely confused me, and I am sure it confuses many a tourist.

Poor customer communication channels

It’s 2008, the age of the internet, so why should I have to dial a premium telephone number to speak to someone? I’m amazed at the number of hotel sites that do not provide an email form, or even a page of frequently asked questions that I can refer to.

If there’s anything I haven’t mentioned that riles you, please add it in the comments. Hopefully we can help improve the experience.

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