11.5.06

Bookings

I'm not usually into doing some publicity to companies/websites, and I usually only review websites/webapps when they're related to new technologies and stuff like that. For instance, even here on my weblog I've already spoke some times about Web 2.0 applications. But today I'll do something different, not to do publicity but because I think this is an example of a preety good online service.

Yesterday I was trying to find out an hotel to crash on Amsterdam during XTech, since the "usuals" are already full (no shit, I'm trying to find an hotel less then one week before the event!). After messing around with the results Google gave me on my searches, I finaly found BOOKINGS - online hotel reservations. As the name says, this is an website only devoted to book yourself in an hotel. The website is 10 years old, and is no Web2.0 app, no fancy stuff, no clean graphics, but still - and that was what surprised me - a great bunch of usability features: it's user driven and not feature driven! What was great. To show to you the kind of (good) experience you can have with this site, I'll just tell you what I did, as an example. Take in consideration that it was the first time I was seeing this website in my life.

So, I have an "where to" place where I've wrote "Amsterdam", and "from" and "until" dropdowns where I said for which period I wanted an hotel. While I was writting Amsterdam, it showed me which entries there was beggining with the letters I've already typed. Really usefull sometimes, like when you don't know how to spell the name of a city, for instance. It was not my case, but cool anyway. Clicked on search. The result was "Amsterdam city or Amsterdam airport". I want the city so I clicked there. Now, the usual - a list of hotels in Amsterdam. I saw the "240 hotels known" and though "cool, they have a nice database". But choosing an hotel sucks. So I just sighted and was going to click on the first... When I noticed that there was a map there. I clicked on the map (no fancy Google Maps stuff) and saw the city with zoom in/out options and full of clickable items - the various hotels of the city. So, I clicked on the hotel the conference is going to be, and as I've already knew, it was full. But I then clicked "hotels near here" and suddenly had a small list (two pages) of the hotels that still had rooms for the period I wanted, near the conference. I just had to choose by the stars I wanted in the hotel, and chose the most near (400 meters, in fact) of those... Simple!

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