Travel Tip – Hotel and Airline prices

Over at WebmasterWorld a member was suggesting that contacting hotels directly leads to the lowest price for a room. Not true. There's no magic bullet site online for cheap rates, you need to surf around and may often find a "consolidator" that is cheaper than the hotel itself., Travelocity, and Expedia are major consolidators and there are hundreds of smaller ones. In Europe, for example, Venere may find you a cheap room.

Example: Last week I used a small flight consolidator called to book Delta to Boston and paid about $100 less than the cheapest fare Delta had online at the same time.

This situation is common in travel because pricing is very market driven and surprisingly inconsistent both for flights and hotels.

As a travel publishing guy I know how some of the deals are cut and it's a very sloppy and counter-intuitive process where some consolidators will force properties to sell them blocks of rooms far below rack rate in exchange for a guarantee of selling those rooms. is notoriously unpopular as the top consolidator because they tend to squeeze great deals from properties in exchange for guaranteed volume and lots of bookings. Good for consumer, somewhat hard on profit margin for the properties.

If, at the last minute, the consolidator has a lot of rooms left they may sell them at rates far below what the hotel will charge if you call them. You especially see this in places like Vegas and big cities with During a November Vegas trip I got the Hilton through (Travelocity I think) for about $55 which I think was under their own website rate, though during a March trip I found the best price for Oriental Palace at their own site – a fantastic $65 nightly for a nice room in the middle of the strip plus some buffets.

All that said I think the hotels are getting smarter and some provide a low price guarantee at their own websites, so you are certainly right that you should check the hotel site as well as other places.

Golfing…in space

A Russian astronaut may get to drive a golf ball out into space as he orbits in a space station.   It is likely the ball would stay in orbit around the earth for some time, meaning the drive could measure hundreds of thousands of miles – maybe millions of miles.

If you'd suggested this to golfers back in 1900 I'd guessing they would have said you were insane.  

What unusual things wil we be up to in 2100?

Learning curves

What if most task learning takes place very early in the learning process, with refinements and “expertise” coming later and at much greater cost in time involved in the task?

For example what if most of our driving skills come from the first 50-100 hours of driving? Interestingly this is the amount if driving time required to get a license in Oregon so the state seems to feel it’s “enough time” to drive safely, I’d agree and suggest this is the case for most task learning.

IF TRUE across many tasks, then I’d suggest we should be spending a lot LESS time teaching people refined skills because the return on that time investment goes way down as we continue. Rather we should be *introducing* kids to more things so they can choose which to pursue in depth later in life. This is done to some extent – I think more than in the 1950s – but I see little reason to push calculus on students who often lack basic investment math skills UNLESS they’ve chosen a career where calculus is important. There are not many of those, and you hardly close doors by substituting practical life skills for advanced math (or science, or literature) studies.

As adults we should focus on learning new approaches and information rather than refining our expertise in very restricted areas *unless* our life depends on that expertise. Though I’m not even sure in this latter case that broader learning won’t trump specialized learning in terms of producing a well rounded intellect capable of handling the varied and sundry tasks of the modern world.