Today, humans no longer accept anything but booking flexible.

Whether that means booking flexible time bands for hotel day stays or flights that offer discounted prices with flexible dates, the consumer traveler is no longer a puppet to inflexible bookings. Hoteliers have to choose to adapt with flexible booking or die.

At university, I learned that the avant-garde meant Kandinsky, Picasso, Cezanne, or Rothko. To laud these mavericks of art history is to realize they turned technology (brushes and paint) into everlasting beauty.

One hundred years on, artists today work with silicon chips and satellites to birth computing devices and applications worthy of reverence. Different tech, commensurate beauty.

Yet, we know avant-garde is a fluid term, liquid, which saturates any genre it touches. It is impossible not to acknowledge that this fluid has soaked into current genres, especially travel. The injection of technology consumer driven agendas has metamorphosed the booking of hotels and flights towards booking flexible.

Hotels adopting flexible check-ins and outs are innately ahead of the learning curve.

They will reap lucrative rewards from acknowledgment of the benefits from what that flexibility has to offer.

Within the span of two decades, travelers have gone through whiplash because of the speed of technological advances and changes in hotels. But it wasn’t always this way…

♥️          ♠️      Story     ♦️          ♣️

Student life in Florence in 1992 was an experience heaped with examples of how the dearth of technology and the inflexibility of hotel regulations married to create a challenging daily existence.

I was 19, my coordinates were set far from home. I was working on an art degree in Florence in the middle of an incredulously cold European winter. Five young women freezing in an illegal apartment above the roof, yet under the eaves of a palazzo. We lit our sketchy gas stove with a dry piece of ignited spaghetti, hoping for a meal with no uninvited explosions. We washed our jeans (every seven days or so) in the sink, the radiators drying our wet rags (and our cold bums) for the next four days, resulting in denim as brittle as Norwegian crispbread. Technology?? We had no telly, no radio, barely electricity, and clearly, no phone.

It was midnight hours at the rainy pay phone eighty-nine steps down, to make calls. Coins and phone cards were accepted. Not having a bag of gold, I sussed out the Byzantine system of buying a phone card at the Tabac, where I could also pay my utility bill, buy stamps, bus tickets, and happily have a shot of Sambuca.

Booking travel for school trips was as Byzantine as the phone card system. An excursion from Florence to Pompeii by the correct train takes about eight hours. Unfortunately, we were mistakenly booked on a diretto train which translates to: “this train stops at every village, shack, ruin, nonna, and goat from Florence to Naples, takes thirteen hours and will cause us to miss our late inflexible hotel check in.” Reservations for forty-five people vanished. Two hours later, the concierge found us three different hotels to put us up.

Happily, being teenagers, we left the professors to sort it out and flooded out in the dark, inky night to devour pizza and copious amounts of cheap, teeth-staining-purple Sangiovese wine.

Ancient sites meet antiquated practices in Rome.

Five years later I enrolled at a Roman university to complete a master’s degree whilst technology still languished.  In September 1997, my mum and I flew into Fiumicino at 2 am after innumerable Atilalia delays. After becoming separated in the terminal, I rescued my non-Italian speaking mum from near-defibrillation due to interrogations of a 15-year-old carabinieri with an AK47 casually slung around his chest like an iPod.

IMG_9937Finally, we were off to discover our much-anticipated hotel rooms. Arriving delayed, having long-missed our reserved driver, starved for thirty-six hours, in a time without ubiquitous mobile phones, it came as no shock that the hotel gave away our reservations for the week. We had one night secure but when 8 am arrived (in those days flexible hotel booking was as nonexistent as online tech), we were kicked out and sent to the proprietor’s “cousin’s” albergo.

Bruised, but not broken, laughing hysterically we incredulously embarked on a pilgrimage to discover what turned out to be the best spaghetti puttanesca ever consumed by two women. Maybe it was the never-ending delayed flight, canceled reservation shrugged off in true, innocent Roman fashion, missing key to my luggage, being lost and hallucinating without food for a day and a half, but I found the whole variety show hilarious.

This scenario foreshadowed some future traveling complications that could have been fixed with the ease and convenience of day stay hotels and flexible booking options!

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