HotelTracker - Beginnings
I might have mentioned going to Anime North a few weeks ago. I might have also mentioned, as part of that, the hotel troubles that I had gone through before hand.
Organizing everything for attending a convention can be stressful enough as is: Getting enough people for a group, booking the right number of hotels rooms, figuring out transportation, distributing the passes, collecting all the cash; it can be a serious pain, but it is one that I typically take in stride.
The biggest pain this year was, as mentioned, having our hotel rooms cancelled unexpectedly, without warning. To elaborate more on the circumstances, I had only received any notice whatsoever because I had booked extra rooms, and was giving the extra rooms away as a favour. When one of the rooms was being transferred, the other party had been told that the reservation had been cancelled, and thus the other party alerted me. This lead to a series of phone calls wherein I filed several complaints with the hotel, sought any sort of recompensation, and deperately sought out alternative means to obtain a room. Had I not done that person a 'favour' I would not have been alerted at all, despite booking more than seven months in advance. The hotel was overbooked and they "couldn't do anything about it".
You might expect this is the point where I start a crusade. Fire the social media cannons! Call up anonymous! Get outraged!
I'll admit, I'm still sore about the situation, but I don't think that being outraged is really going to accomplish much, nor that I would get very far with. I'm also not convinced such action is necessary as it appears that the hotel will be losing the 'Doubletree' moniker, which I suspect means that the hotel has suffered enough complaints to become disenfranchised. I can only speculate, of course.
No, I would rather talk about what I did to improve the situation, and improving the situation is necessary as the hotel is already fully booked for next year. Really.
More than a year ago, as github would tell me, I started on a project called HotelTracker: a crude python script that effectively scraped Anime North hotels for availability. The goal of the project was, and continues to be, developing a tool that can help other people find out about hotel availability. It's come a long way since its inception, but there are still many changes and improvements to be made.
I realize that I don't often talk about technical subjects on this blog, and when I do I tend to focus on things at a higher level, and I hope that I can continue to talk about subjects at a high level... but I think that there's a lot of opportunity to explain the process of going from an idea, to a concrete implementation, especially with HotelTracker, as its a relatively simple software project. I want to talk about how it started, how it has come along, and where it is going. As a software developer looking to become a better developer and a better writer, I'm hoping to post about HotelTracker more often in special blog posts like this one.
While I may not have succeeded at getting a hotel room yet, I'm hoping that HotelTracker will find me a room, and, in the long run, other people as well. I'll have to tell you all about how it got started... another time though.