Booking Hotel Online: Observations And Suggestions

Sanjay V Shah

05 November 2017

I am sitting in a room of the fourth hotel of my current business trip. It’s in Lucknow. Before this, it was Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar. The city of Lord Jagannath has a Mangrol Multimedia office there so, I stay in the office itself and save money. For other cities, I am dependent on hotels; sasta ya mehenga, achchha ya thikthaak, deal or no deal. Like all of us, I pick up hotel by going through details on a facilitator’s website. Like most of us, sometime I get fooled and sometime, I get value for money.

For an SME like ours, 4 and 5-stars are still a little distant dream without a cool deal. So, we choose hotels that fit our budget and meet basic requirements.

But we often get fooled, thanks to wrong and tall claims by either a hotel, or a facilitator or by both. It frustrates a lot because it’s sheer cheating. It frustrates because it affects your very purpose of the visit.

My recent visit to Hyderabad and Delhi got me thinking how to tackle this issue. At least to a possible extent, if not completely. In Hyderabad, I stayed at two hotels and the second one where my stay was longer, was pathetic. In Delhi despite paying good money compared to prevailing room rates in the Paharganj area, I ended up staying in a really bad hotel. I felt bad because like many others, I consider myself to be a wise selector of things. But I do fail and it's true. I intend to improve my score of successful choice of good hotels. For that, I am planning to take some extra care like this:

  1. Never book a hotel for a long stay at once: That’s because if the selected hotel turns out to be bad, you will have no escape route to shift elsewhere. Be entrapped only when stay is for a day or two but not when it’s longer. If you don’t book for a longer stay, you could get rid of a bad choice and opt for another one with a little legwork in the vicinity. This will seldom result in less spending because physical booking comes cheaper than an online one.

  2. Be careful before trusting positive reviews: Many hotels get fake reviews written by themselves. Online facilitators either have no control over them or they just don’t care.. Then, negative reviews are often written with a bias. Yet, if we could read between lines, it’s possible to find out nearest facts. Most importantly, negative reviews prepare us to accept the unexpected which is good to pacify us in the end.

  3. Demand detailed explanations of amenities on email: This is important for a longer stay booked at once. Spending few thousand rupees trusting online details and swiping a card is one thing. Spending some time to know realities by emailing the hotel as well as a facilitator is another thing. Such communications come handy if disputes arise.

  4. Share your honest views: We all want right information but tend not to share what we have with others, citing reasons. Or, we would share them with vengeance. I try sharing my views online, both positive and negative, and steal time to do so from my schedules. I use speech to text feature of my smart phone during travel. It keeps me active as well as giving a feeling of fulfillment of social responsibility.   

  5. Go for insignificant hotel when unsure of options or budget is limited: Several humble hotels of yesteryear have now learnt the game of online business. I am sure they are trained by online facilitators too. They display impressive photographs online, boast of nonexistent amenities. It results into huge disappointment in the end and waste of money for us. When unsure of a hotel’s selection, go for one that’s cheaper, or cheapest. Better to be fooled lesser by being modest to self, than more by acting smart.

  6. Beware of mushrooming budget hotels chains: These are the days of new budget hotel brands. They are neither Taj nor Novotel or ITC. They are properties with little or more refurbishment. Their old name makes way for a new one but not all old weaknesses. Most importantly the mentality of local owner, manager or operator stays. A change of a board and a brand does not necessarily mean a change in operations. So, be ready for a pleasant to pathetic experience during every new trip. If possible, avoid new brands for some time before they settle and learn to be honest and consistent.

  7. Basic things are most important: Well behaved staff, Wi-Fi connectivity (if it’s your necessity), good sleep, cleanliness, proper food and safety are, I feel, the most important needs of a traveler. Unfortunately, realities unearth with personal experience only. Most budget hotels fail horribly on these counts. Despite mera desh badal raha hai, aagey badh raha hai, changing mindsets of opportunist entrepreneurs is a daunting task in all industries including hotel. It’s not easy to get rid of this issue. The most I do is checking online images, of bed and bathroom. Cleanliness in small hotels is a surprise gift and not an assured amenity. I read others opinion on food. Wi-Fi is slowly becoming no problem, thanks to cheaper mobile data. I prefer booking hotels in bustling areas to ensure safety. With regard to staff behaviour, I feel as helpless and at the receiving end as others.    

  8. Explore nearby hotels for future visits: I started doing this recently after a hugely disappointment booking of 4 days in a hotel. I spent some time locally to check nearby hotels. It was really worth. I spoke to front office staff, checked rooms, menu, Wi-Fi and tariff. Among them were a couple of hotels I had rejected after online hunt. They were better than my actual choice. I came across few hotels not listed online. They are still following traditional business model. Then, I booked a hotel offline, at a reasonably cheaper rate than an online one, for my next visit to that city. Before that, I exchanged emails with the hotel. Now, at least I know in advance what to expect and what not. This may sound weird but better for peace of mind.

  9. Be at peace, focus on work: A bad hotel is a mood spoiler. It also means less focus on work. I had fought for my rightful amenities at few hotels in the past. I am consciously learning to avoid it now. Instead of debating with a hotel staff during stay, I deal with my unpleasant experience afterwards, with complete cool, by sharing my opinion online. With commoners as well as the hotel management wherever possible and the facilitator. It may be little late for my own benefit but well in time for others.

  10. Do not shy away from raising objections: Recently, I lodged a complaint with consumer affairs ministries (both state and central government), the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against a hotel chain. I was shocked after witnessing unbelievable and unacceptable differences between promises and deliverables. I did get acknowledgement from the central government and ASCI. I am hopeful that due action will be taken against this hotel brand. Point is, we must speak out and let others know injustices done to us. Only this would help India change for better.

#Makemytrip #Ogibibo #Cleartrip #Expedia #Tripadvisor # #Oyorooms #Airbnb #trivago #hotels #yatra #via #booking #agoda #kayak #travelguru #ixigo #booking #bookhotelonlie #onlinehotelbooking

(The author is CEO of Mangrol Multimedia. Headquartered in Mumbai with a branch in Bhubaneswar, India, Mangrol provides media services including writing, translation in 40 leading languages, graphic designing, web designing, social media management, stage and audio-visual making. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mangrol Multimedia. You can contact the author at

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Recruiters Versus Candidates Or Recruiters With Candidates?

Recruiting someone is serious business for a prosperous business. Job applications is not about sending an email. Here, I make an attempt to share points that one may like or dislike. Bouquets and brickbats are welcome with open arms.

I stumbled upon a Linkedin post by a senior recruitment specialist Ms. Anjali Patel today. Though I commented to her post and also replied to the comments on my comments by Mr. Hitesh Nandwani, I feel like articulating my views further.   For an organisation its workforce is the real asset. Everything else is the by-product of talents that drive an organisation. Similarly, for a prospective candidate, nurturing his/her career begins with right approach and high thinking; as both complement each other. Yet, organisations the world over face talent crunch while we keep combating critical unemployment .

Equally worrying fact is that many talented candidates, after joining some organisation, become usual employees instead of strength and pride of their organisations. It's a stark truth very hard to defy.

The questions that come to my mind is what fuels this? And how this could be averted in most cases.

Being a part of a growing organisation; we at Mangrol Multimedia are constantly looking up for right candidates. Resumes keep pouring in our inbox, meeting and interviewing them and making offers have become an ongoing task. Then, our entire team is slowly ut with very positive approach got created out of nothing. And yes, many of our team members have found their true self and strength at Mangrol Multimedia. I am saying this not to boast us. I feel lots of caring, nurturing have gone into this. While I was an initiator of this process, today this same process is successfully followed by the entire team.

We too face many challenges evaluating resumes, coordinating with candidates and reaching to a point where the organisation as well as a selected candidate feels at par and join hands.

Firstly, let me tell you what kind of challenges we face while screening applications received.

  • Most candidates have a habit of forwarding their ready-to-use resume to any and every organisation without properly understanding needs of a post. With an exceptions of a small lot, most candidates simply send (or blindly forward) dated resume, without any covering email. Forget that, most not even bother to write a proper subject line.

  • Candidates also have a habit of applying for posts that are not within their reach or profile. For example, when we clearly mention in our openings that we need a candidate who, let’s say, residing between certain suburbs, we get applications from not just far-flung suburbs, but also from other cities. This means lots of rejection, heart breaks (if candidates, if at all they do bother) and extra works for us.

  • In many profiles, we come across claims that are, when real interview happens, proves to be myths and false claims. For example, we talk to some graphic designer in person with an intention of hiring her/him. The résumé claims that the interviewee knows software A, B and C. When we dig, we come to know that the candidate’s competency is in just software only and the other two are mentioned only because the interviewee had done a crash course in them.

  • We constantly try to add more and more translators in our freelancers team. Many translators reach us and we also reach to translators in our own way. What we have learnt with our experience is that most translators lack knowledge of languages they deal with, and even lesser pay attention to grammar and quality.

  • We get most applications for our IT division and sadly, things are not better with that too. Scanning resumes of IT aspirants make us understand how run of the mill IT institutes are fooling around with young talents and playing with their future.

  • Another bad thing is that candidates expect packages that do not match their profile. This is truer about young talents of 25 or less age. Without proper knowledge, experience, exposure or readiness to learn, they demand a package which sounds like out of question. In reality, a candidate has to command a package.

  • In our choice of talents, we have also gone wrong but, thankfully, to a lesser extent. In many cases, we have even helped our people to explore avenues they had never thought of, after understanding their true strengths and weaknesses.

  • Coming back to effective application, proper presentation and prompt following up on them, it is very important for any professional to stand out from the word go. This can happen with an email sent with one’s resume. Then, a gentle call and an attempt to follow-up is always desirable.

  • We all have to work to survive, and many of us need to switch jobs too. A fresher would hunt for her/his first big break while a pro would keep looking for the next big thing. For both, it is imperative to send perfectly updated, concurrent resume. A résumé should never make tall claims because, if they are considered as reasons for one’s selection, and they are proved wrong in future, things would certainly turn bad for all. Under commitment and over commitment is the best way to prove one’s worth. Yet, if one feels that she/he could certainly do so and so, given an opportunity, speak about that abilities when a real interview happens. That would certainly earn one more grace points.

  • Before I end up talking about candidates, I would say that one should apply less but apply after thoroughly understanding job requirements. And then, do follow-up with your application as much as possible. Even if you get rejection, or absolutely no feedback, you would know something worth to remember.

  • Coming to organisations, I feel they have to be more humane and cordial with candidates. Organisations are built, grow or even perish because of their people. An organisation at no point in its existence should feel that it is indispensable and its people are dispensable. It is actually the other way round.

  • Receiving applications from candidates is a great privilege for an organisation. Applications received should always be treated with utmost care and respect. True that 8 or 9 applications an organisation receive do not fit its need. Still, it is an organisation’s duty to at least send a formal reply. No harm in saying thanks and good all the best. Trust me, life is a mysterious journey and one never knows what would come back. A candidate you reject today may become a business tycoon tomorrow. Just like an organisation, candidates keep exploring, evolving and experimenting. With lots of hard work and a little destiny, anyone can reach anywhere. We must, not with our benefit in mind but making this world better, sharing happiness and, spreading a message of professionalism, always take time out to reply to aspirants.

  • Many small companies can’t afford and don’t have a dedicated HR division. In India, we still recruit people in desi way. That’s okay, as long as an organisation does proper scrutiny of an application and accept or reject the same with valid reasons. To know that reasons, applications should be checked by someone who knows how to check them. Also, that should be done with a neutral mind. The one who checks applications should feel the nervousness, excitement, need and hope of an applicant.

  • The one who helps other grow, grows faster. The one who helps others grow; grow faster. Crux of the matter can be derived from the popular saying, there are two sides to a coin. On one hand an organisation needs to be proactive, amicable, positive and responsive to each application received. More so, when a candidate is invited for an interview and if he/she doesn’t fit the bill, one can always leave a mark by saying something cheerful towards the end. We at Mangrol Multimedia always strive to set such precedent and hope to get better with time.

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Amazing facts about translation and languages

While pondering over an amazing profession of translation and transcreation of content, it came to my mind to Google for amazing facts about it. And what, many results were thrown in front of my eyes within no time! Reading them not only amazed me but also tempted to present you all a nice compilation of the same.

So, here we go!

How old languages are: With progress of civilization, not only technology but languages also kept growing. According to studies, language is believed to be around two lakh years old.

Which country uses most languages: We Indians believe that we have a vast variation of languages in our country and that is true also, However, when it comes to using most languages, Papua New Guinea tops the chart with as many as 820 languages! So far as India is concerned, Wikipedia says, “There are 1,635 rationalised mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues and 22 major languages. Of these, 29 languages have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers.”

Languages in world: According to the Ethnologue Catalogue of World Languages, our planet has as many as 6909 languages in circulation. Of these, some 6% languages are used by at least 10 lakh or more people. They constitute around 94% world population.

Languages world has already lost: Because many languages have very few users or speakers, the world is continuously losing one after the other language. Research says that around 500+ languages are near extinct and many more would follow with passing generations.

World’s most translated book: That is Bible. It is translated in, well, more than 600 languages!

World’s most translated document: That is United Nations Organization’s Declaration of Human Rights, with translation into around 400 languages.

Most used languages: If we talk about native speakers, Mandarin Chinese is  the top language in the world with most number of native speakers. If we talk about a language used by non-native speakers, English tops the chart.

Language spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers: Obviously, it is English. No other language in this world has moved from one corner to another and became local people’s language. This mostly happened because British people ruled so many countries! English has around 350 million non-native users. English is also the most published language.

Modern day translation fancy: That is J. K. Rowling’s creation Harry Potter. It is believed to be translated into 70 languages.


International Translation Day or World Translation Day: Is celebrated every year on 30 September. We at Mangrol Multimedia also celebrate it with much excitement. Currently, we are serving our clients in around 40 languages and looking forward to meet a target of 100 languages soon.

World’s oldest language: According to available information, it is Chinese or Greek. They are believed t o be in existence since 1500 BC.

Which language has the least number of words: That is Taki Taki, which is also called Sranan. It has just about  340 words. This language is used by 1,20,000 people the South American country of Suriname.

Braille language: Meant for those who can’t see, this language has evolved unbelievably with passing time. Most of languages have their Braille version. If that is not all, it also has its own version for codes, maths, science and more!

Indian languages: Wikipedia says, “The 2001 census recorded 29 languages as having more than 1 million native speakers (0.1% of total population). The languages in bold are scheduled languages (the only scheduled language with less than 1 million native speakers is Sanskrit). The first table is restricted to only speaking populations for scheduled languages.”

Writers with most translation: They are Agatha Christie with 7,233 translations, Jules Verne with 4,751 translations and William Shakespeare with 4,293 translations.

Unesco’s Index Translationum: Above information about writers with most translation of their work, and other interesting information is available at this Unesco operated mission. Check it and you’d love it.

Number of translators in world: While we really can’t know the exact number of them, few studies have claimed that the world has more than three lakh professional translators. However, Mangrol’s view is that several countries including India do not have any systematic way of counting or even keeping records of translators. So, the actual number could be way above the estimations.  

Language with most words: English has more than 2,50,000 words! No wonder, as it is used, cultivated and explored by so many people!

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Elphinstone Road: A Station Neglected Forever

Few railways stations must have born out of curse. In case of the Elphinstone Road, it’s double the curse with its partner station Parel.

What if the name of Elphinstone Road is changed to Prabhadevi today? Except for the name, nothing for it has changed here since ages. Those who have frequented it know it very well and feel really sad…

It was around mid-1990s that I would be a part of an unmanageable crowd flowing between the two stations daily. One throng of breadwinners would rush from the Parel end towards the Elphinstone Road and the other, vice versa. These stations have been so pitiable by very characteristics that even a cheerful commuter would turn gloomy as soon as being here. I was not an exception, to an extent. I was working with the Asian Age then (its city editor was Aakar Patel) and its Mumbai office was at Saiman House, off Sayani Road. Every day, I would alight at Parel while traveling from Dombivali, take the narrow railway bridge to the Elphinstone Road, eat famous Vada-Pav and Samosa there in the canteen towards the Churchgate end and, rush outside.

That railway bridge, recklessly doubled but never became capable of serving the purpose, turned into a killer bridge today. Because our politicians are more interested in just two things; renaming railway stations and not reinventing them as need of the time and; setting up inquiry commissions after mishaps instead of averting them. The Elphinstone Road and Parel stations, along with their bridge, are classic examples of administrative negligence, both by the Railways and the Corporation.

Parel attracts less than one fourth of commuters compared to Dadar. It is really frightening to even imagine how many Mumbaikars would die in case such a mishap happen at day, Dadar, Dombivali, Kurla, Masjid Bunder, Thane, Ghatkopar; or Bhayander, Borivali, Andheri, Vile Parle or other bustling stations!

Not just the Elphinstone Road station, Mumbai has many other stations completely neglected by the authorities. Stampede, therefore, is not a one-off affair. It’s happening almost everyday and every night at one or the other suburban station. It’s happening often and especially during festival times. Try being at some suburban railway station on a day like Gudi Padwa, Bhau Beej, Raksha Bandhan and chances are you would experience a near-death situation passing through a bridge.

From students to elders and from physically challenged to families with young kids, all are forced to experience it in this city, just because it is considered as their fate by the administration. “If you wish to be in Mumbai, you have to be prepared to bear all this, period.” No wonder then in this city, you can reach home safely only if you survive local train travels.

Sad that we all have to continue living like this, irrespective of bullet trains make it to India.

Sad that authorities want votes and not concerned about Mumbaikars’ woes.

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Are We Living For Gadgets, Junks?

For once, we should wonder and be surprised how our spending habits have changed. To buy a thing of few hundreds of thousands for home or #office, we would think many times, do research. We would also discourage children or youngsters of the family and suggest not to spend money now and then. But when it comes to #mobiles, we would not hesitate to spend a big sum every few months! Then, we would also use those dearly #gadgets carelessly and that results in breakage and loss and damage. That gives us a reason to get rid of one mobile phone and jump to another one.

Then, we get lured by catchy ads of mobile companies, without even realising whether we need one or many features, or is it really necessary to be a #smotographer and spend unnecessarily on #camera-centric smart phone or not. And then, God only knows how many people really know usage or need of so many applications or #apps loaded in their hand-buddy. What's more, #Android keeps on releasing new version of itself now and then and we feel like, "Oh, another version of Android? Means my Android version has become outdated. Why? No answer here. 

In the world where materialism is ruling over everything else, it looks very shocking and stupid that we are spending an unbelievable money on gadgets, connectivity, style and show-offs. Consider this: 

How much you spend on just mobile and connectivity every month?: The answer could be found depending on few aspects. One is, how costly smart phone you use, and change it at what intervals. For example, you use a mid-range smartphone of Rs. 18,000, you are still not with #JIO or, you still have your primary number with @Airtel, @Vodafone, @Idea, @RelianceMobile or any such company and you are spending at least Rs. 600 a month, either as a prepaid or as a postpaid subscriber. So, your monthly expense to be connected comes to around Rs. Rs. 2,100. And if you are a family of four, then your family is spending say Rs. 8,400 on handsets and call charges alone. That means your family is spending Rs. 1,08,000 per year on these two things. And in case you are like all those crazy people who now need more than one mobile number, this amount could go higher!  

Now, just understand that several people or family are not spending this kind of money on even fruits today! Maybe they are equally freak about soft drinks (which again is as useless as it should be) or junk foods, but not on healthy, nutritious food or things. We fight with street vendors, thelawala, but we hardly think twice while spending thousands of a smart phone! Really strange! 

Well, the intention of writing this was to suggest that we all could live a better life, with lesser unnecessary spending. In turn, we would also spend time for ourselves, our families and, either follow our existing good habits or pursue new ones. 

Consider this as well: 

We all have become avid readers now, thanks to junk messages dumped in our #WhatsApp and similar apps. But does that reading really make any sense? 

We all live with smartphones, television and gadgets more than we live with our self or with our family. 

We all get distracted now and then due to notifications and rings and alerts and more. Mankind has probably not seen such a kind before, neither during pre-industrialisation era, not even after radio and television and basic telephones were in our lives. 

The think is, we hardly are able to live with ourselves, at peace and concentration. 

Even after that, we are spending recklessly! 

Seems we all need to do something very seriously about changing this! 


(This blog is written by Sanjay V Shah, CEO of Mangrol Multimedia and a renowned journalist-playwright)

- Sanjay V Shah

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શીખીએ ગુજરાતી - 1

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