From December 26th 2018 to January 4th 2019 we were traveling and the general destination was Himachal Pradesh. The Northern, mountainous state of India.
Due to certain training my cousin had to attend, 4 of us travelled to New Delhi First and from there to a small city in Himachal Pradesh called Mandi. https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdUscEaoT4QfTcATXRDkRT8dsGzYCZKoLFJDKHXQbe6n8/image.png
Mandi is 850 m (2,790 ft) above Mean Sea Level and for us who are traveling from “the sea Level” itself, this provided a good 1 day halt for acclimatization and rest.
(Beas River, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India)
Our original plan was to travel to Tirthan Valley from Mandi. But my cousin and family wanted to see snow and @firepower suggested Solang Valley as the right place. Myself was not very particular about the location and @firepower’s suggestion turned out to be very good as everyone seemed to be heading there and every weather prediction service showed snow during the time we were there.
The Solang village which near Manali is where the Beas River flowing through a valley forms the valley of adventure sports – The Solang Valley. Its unbelieving crowded for a small village. One can find few hundred shops renting snow equipment, mountain bikes (ATB), couple of hundred ponys and a charade of vehicles.
As we neared Manali endless traffic block started appearing and we crawled and crossed Manali in few hours. The temperature had dropped to probably 3 or 4 degree Celcius. We had hotel booked in advance through an online service called MakeMyTrip.com & I had tried to confirm our arrival delay via SMS. There was no response from the hotel and considering it as a bad sign and seeing the unprecedented traffic I finally called the hotel. The person at the hotel was somewhere with loud music and all I could comprehend was the rooms are ready.
The adventure begins
Few minutes later, I got a call back from the hotel. The call was not audible but I felt something wrong. Tried again and after many tries the call was audible and the hotel person lazily explained that the rooms are sold out. I tried to explain I had updated them in the morning and I have a receipt from MakeMyTrip. At this point the hotel proprietor said, if we had booked the ticket through MakeMyTrip, talk to them and not to the hotel. I politely asked him to please try to talk to MakeMytrip – the hotel person wanted us to stop or go-back to Manali & take accommodation in a stay in Manali.
So, everything was crystal clear. We had booked at the hotel quite early at a nominal (yes, very nominal rate). And here we were on the Christmas – New Year season where the rates can be anything. People were probably trying to optimize their occupancy.
We never found out whose mistake it was. We only knew that we had not done anything wrong.
Sensing trouble, I asked my wife who was not traveling with me to call MakeMyTrip & arrange a call back. Simultaneously I called MakeMyTrip.com from another phone. So, after few minutes, I managed to explain the MakeMytrip representative what is going on. He agreed to check with the hotel and call back. He took the booking ID and other relevant details. So, I waited for the call back. Few minutes later the first call back arrived from MakeMyTrip & they explained, there is nothing to worry and I just have to go there and check-in the hotel. Few minutes into the conversation, the second call back arrived. The representative bluntly explained that the hotel is sold out ! So I asked him what happened to the booking we did – to which again he said, the hotel is sold out. All this while, I had the other MakeMyTrip executive on the different phone explaining that everything is in order.
Travels are one of the best teachers who gives us lessons which no one else can give
I must say, it was fun to put the executives on speaker and tell them that the calls are on recording and they are contradicting each other. This was my turn to wear the cold and bruteless hat, thus I said, “MakeMyTrip.com has offered us the hotel booking and we are now standing in near zero temperatures. We don’t have the rooms and 4 lives are in the hands of MakeMyTrip”. The representatives both agreed to help out.
Rest of the few kilometers we sat down and relaxed.
We reached Solang Valley and entered the hotel where we had our rooms booked. The person at the reception promptly received us and he was looking into the booking details. Few moments later the owner of the hotel came and he was looking at the details as well as if nothing happened. Then, he asked in whose name the booking is – this time, I had to give the booking details. We looked at each other & with after considerable delay the hotel owner said, we spoke little while ago. I said, Yes we did. After he explaining that the rooms are sold out, I told them to talk to the online portal whose booking software had auto-magically sent me booking confirmation.
## Failed Startups helps Entrepreneurs!
This is something I realized just now while I was writing this. It so happned that I was fortunate or unfortunate to start mybusticket.com few years before a popular Indian bus ticketing service called RedBus.in and then loosing out to them. I also had adventures into travel by the name of Routez.Travel. While we waited for the call back, I was thinking about how travel industry worked, about those APIs and services which makes hotel bookings, flight bookings etc possible. Thanks to RECCAA.Club, I knew about hospitality management software as well.
The much awaited call back from MakeMytrip arrived and I must mention that the executive was professional and one of the most proactive customer care executives I have ever came across.
So, we talked about travel industry, travel booking software, acquisitions done by GoIbibo, acquisitions done by MakeMyTrip and pretty much everything about travel industry other than flight bookings!
The executive explained to me that he will try his level best to arrange a hotel either at this one or elsewhere. I handed over the phone to the the hotel owner and this time the discussions were about GoIbibo-MMT panel and “Nancy” & many other irrelevant things. The phone was back to me and I clearly said, the life of 4 of us is with MakeMyTrip. Both the hotel and the MakeMyTrip representative requested to wait for 15 minutes.
The hotel owner offered us tea & showed us 2 rooms which by then got “cancelled”. The tea was a life saver as the cold and walking on crystallized snow had started impacting me. The MakeMyTrip representative had kept his word and called back and explained a nearby hotel which was perhaps the best in the Valley. He explained even the minute details and left the decision to me. I asked him to talk to my hotel owner once again and see whether the newly appeared rooms can be arranged. As this is normal incident in touristy areas, I just wanted to play along than make a scene. The hotel owner wanted 3 times the normal price from MakeMyTrip. To my surprise, the MakeMyTrip owned the situation and offered to do anything as per my wish. I asked for the MakeMyTrip’s representative & decided to go with the hotel he suggested. He went ahead and make all the required arrangements.
When we finally walked in to the hotel that MakeMyTrip had arranged, we were surprised to find a Swiss cottage which costed 5 times our original room. The manager at “Sky one Ski” Mr Hemanth welcomed us as if to his own home & made us comfortable.
The adventure was not over!
The online Portal MakeMyTrip and its executives had done and excellent job to serve us. But our dear friend at the hotel directed to the wrong location when asked about the new location. My physical state due to the extreme weather had clouded my thinking and instead of cross checking the new hotel location we decided to walk there. Due to the confusions, we walked close to 1 km in the chilling cold over the slippery ice and reached the hotel. There was no power anywhere and after a while we realized that our “hotel” guy had sent us to a different hotel with similar name. Helpless, we walked back and found “Sky one Ski” with the help of helpful localities. Our driver was very helpful as sympathetic as well.
The Swiss Tent
Sky one Ski has marvelous facilities and well equipped Swiss Tents. The property is tucked inside an apple orchard.
(Inside the Beautiful Tent)
(The Apple Orchad)
While we had the most luxurious hotel – thanks to the travel operator – power and the climate was not the best. Unfortunately there was no power and we had only 1 tent instead of 2 rooms. We had a bunch of candles which we used to heat the tent and tucked inside the blankets (Duet) with our 3 layer clothing, jackets and gloves. The altitude though it was only 10,000 feet (3000 meters), was acting on us, the weather by then – 10 degrees presented us with a chilling experience. Thanks to the hotel guy who gave priority to few pennies over the well being of guests, there we were sleeping under the sky, in a luxurious Swiss Tent, separated from the freezing weather by 2 layers of cloth and 3 Candles.
Thanks to MakeMyTrip and the extremely helpful staff at “Sky one Ski” we woke up to another morning alive and tell this story.
(inside the swiss tent – Sky one Ski)
(The beautiful view at the morning – thanks to Mr Sivankar of MakeMyTrip.com, Mr Hemanth of Sky one Ski & Our Driver, Mr Vinod. You guys are one of the best professionals I have met & wishing you all the very best)