Today I want to share a personal experience that left me astonished.   It’s all about how I discovered it is possible to book a hotel via a third party online booking system, arrive at the hotel and be told you have no reservation!  Thankfully, I was inspired to make a confirmation call prior to arriving and was spared the ordeal of being left without a room.

My Astonishing Experience

I used to assume that a confirmation email meant my hotel reservation was confirmed.  However, during my recent trip, I encountered an unexpected twist with my hotel booking.  Though I received a confirmation email right away, it was only when I was actually packing to travel that I noticed two small reminders on the “booking confirmation”,  One said “Contact the hotel 48 hours before arrival to confirm your booking” and the second was about arranging a shuttle transfer.  To be on the safe side, I decided to reach out to the hotel, only to be surprised by their response.

Upon contacting the hotel for information on the shuttle transfer and to confirm the booking, I was told there was no such reservation under my name!?  Imagine my shock!   The clerk told me to contact the online booking company, stating it wasn’t the hotel’s responsibility to confirm my booking.  Whhaaatttt?  Didn’t my confirmation email advise me to contact the hotel?  Confused, frustrated, and now running late with my preparations, I persisted.  The clerk on the phone, obviously annoyed that I didn’t just go away, then asked me for an “itinerary number”.  I had no idea what this was as I was not organising an itinerary, only booked a hotel.  So, once again the clerk directed me to contact the help chat on the website of the online booking engine.   Really getting hot under the collar now about being late leaving for the airport, I got on the website of the online booking company and found I had to first go through a “bot”,  what they like to term a “virtual” agent before being connected with a live agent.

“Booking Reference Number” and “Hotel Confirmation Number”

Upon hearing my story, the live agent provided me with two essential numbers – a “booking reference number” and a “hotel confirmation number”.   It would appear that she was used to such calls, which made me thankful for my past successful hotel check-ins over the years.   I muttered into the phone that I would have thought these potentially necessary numbers should have been provided in the original confirmation.  However, the only response I received to that was something about company policy…

Note:  While the online booking site may confirm your hotel reservation, that does not necessarily mean that the hotel has confirmed the reservation!

The Importance of Prior Confirmation:

After contacting the hotel again, this time with the correct numbers, my reservation was promptly confirmed.  This experience highlighted, for me, the importance of reaching out to the hotels directly for confirmation before any future trips.  Imagine arriving at your destination late at night, only to struggle with verifying your booking details as I had.  Remember this is potentially an easy exit for a hotel that is in the habit of overselling their rooms.


In the world of online hotel booking procedures, a confirmation email might not always guarantee a secured reservation. To avoid unnecessary stress and ensure a smooth travel experience, make it a habit to contact the hotel directly before your trip. Remember, knowledge is power, and being informed about these hidden aspects of hotel bookings can save you from potential booking headaches. So, gear up for your future adventures, and confirm those hotel reservations!

Happy exploring and safe travels! 🌍✈️