Shareware Beach

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

European Shareware Conference Reservations Made

Filed under: Conferences — Jan @ 10:25

I just finished making my reservations to attend the 5th annual European Shareware Conference. This year it will be held in Brussels as decided by popular vote.

As usual, it was a bit of a quest finding good prices for the plane and the hotel. KLM’s website, however, makes it very easy to get the best price (as long as you’re flying KLM, of course). After selecting departure and arrival cities, you’ll get two calendars for the departure and arrival dates. The calendars are color-coded to indicate the lowest booking class available. Light blue means you can get the cheapest, restricted ticket, while dark blue means only full price tickets are available for that date. When you click on one of the dates, a bit of Javascript instantly fetches the new price. This makes comparing prices so much more convenient than on most airline web sites, where you have to resubmit the whole request to see the price on another day.

That doesn’t mean that all dates with the same color have the same price. Weekends are more expensive than weekdays, at least on the Bangkok-Amsterdam route. Since I’m combining the conference with a family visit, I can be quite flexible with the dates that I fly.

What really surprised me is that if I opt to fly Bangkok-Amsterdam-Antwerpen (last leg by train), the calendar turns almost completely light blue for November. But if I choose Bangkok-Amsterdam only, most days are darker. Consequently, on many days (but not all), the total price including the train ticket is actually lower than without. I guess the train makes me a transit passenger, and KLM wants to sell more tickets to transit passengers. Still, they’ve effectively priced their train tickets negatively during most of November. No wonder airlines around the world are having a hard time staying profitable.

The conference will be held in the Sofitel Astoria Hotel. I always prefer to get a room in the conference hotel, since that’s where the action is. You’ll save a few euros staying in a cheaper hotel nearby, but you’re likely to miss out on the socializing, or having to brave the weather to meet everyone.

If you’re sure you’ll attend the conference, you can save some euros by making your reservations directly with the hotel on their web site. The ESWC has negotiated a single room rate of 135 euro, and a double room rate of 155 euro, including breakfast. This is a better price than the “best unrestricted rate” on the Internet, which excludes breakfast. If purchased separately, breakfast is a rediculous 25 euro per person.

However, if you book your room before everybody else does, you can probably get one of the better rates on the Internet. The “Sofitel Getaway” promotion for 3 nights is 340 euro (single) or 370 euro (double), including breakfast, or a savings of about 100 euro compared with the ESWC rate. It requires a non-refundable one night deposit, though. And it’ll probably run out way sooner than the October 25 deadline for the ESWC rate.

If you don’t want breakfast, there’s also a “hot deal” which must be prepaid in full. Compared with the Getaway promotion, the breakfast seems to have been calculated around 10 euro per meal, which is far more reasonable than the 25 euro rate.

Anyway, you can find me in or around the Astoria hotel from Friday 4 November till Monday 7 November.

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