The Unexpected Hero app solves the dreaded travel woes

Meet Bill, a seasoned traveler from Sarasota, Florida, whose global tales could fill volumes.

But today's story isn't about exotic destinations or close shaves at foreign airports.

It's about a booking gone bad in the bustling city of Buffalo, New York.

A few weeks before the trip, Bill, as meticulous as ever, booked a room at a Marriott-branded hotel in nearby Amherst. He got all the confirmations—texts, emails, and even the reassuring green check mark on the Marriott Bonvoy app. His room was booked, he was signed into the app, and his mind was at ease.

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Mobile phone application. (Marriott)

Arrival for 4 nights

Fast forward to a chilly 58 degree evening in Buffalo. The city was alive with the energy of a highly anticipated NFL football game. Fans from near and far poured into the city, filling every nook and cranny, but Billy wasn't worried. He had a confirmed reservation, or so he thought.

Upon arrival at the Marriott-branded Reikart Hotel, with a smile and reservation details in hand, Bill was met with an apologetic but firm, “No room at the hotel.” Despite his confirmed booking being made in advance, there was no record of his booking. A glitch in Marriott's technology failed to make reservations at a hotel in neighboring Amherst, forcing it to shut down.

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A room at the Marriott. (Marriott)

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When you are refunded a confirmed hotel reservation

Seeking help from Marriott's corporate hotline yielded nothing but disappointment. Marriott confirmed that it indeed had a reservation, but locally, the hotel's system clearly showed that no reservation had been made. On that critical night in Buffalo, they did not offer effective solutions to this frequent loyal visitor.

“We weren't given housing options … and basically, after about an hour of trying to decide, we were sent out for the night to fend for ourselves,” Bill said. Bill was stranded, a seasoned traveler without a bed.

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Screenshot of the Marriott website. (Marriott)

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How to solve travel problems with apps

Optimistic and uncertain, Bill and his travel posse took the Marriott Bonvoy app as a solution. Not lucky. It has been purchased. Then they tried HotelTonight, an app known for last-minute bookings. There was no room in sight, but Bill's travel savvy didn't stop there.

Reduced to options, her partner waiting in the car turned to Airbnb, an unlikely beacon of hope for stranded souls, and there it was—an instant reservation available for a charming guest just a mile away.

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Phone apps for travel. (Kurt Kybergai Knutson)

Everyone should know the unexpected solution

He secured the reservation with lightning speed and sent a message to the host who had just received the cancellation. Serendipity was on Bill's side. From a traveler without a room to a guest in a cozy house nearby, Bill's fortunes changed.

Bill's ordeal is more than a story of technological mishap; It's a testament to the power of alternative platforms like Airbnb. When traditional systems failed, Airbnb suddenly gained ground, not only as a platform for vacation planning, but also as a lifeline for stranded travelers with its “instant book” feature.

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From the failure of Marriott to the success of Airbnb

We reached out to Marriott's corporate offices, as did Bill, who wrote a detailed letter to its CEO. A Marriott spokesperson offered this brief statement: “We take customer feedback seriously and work directly with guests to address any concerns.”

Shortly after our inquiry, Bill received a response from Marriott, who recognized the technical weakness and offered to pay for his four nights at an Airbnb he found to save him from the dreaded Marriott demolition.

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Airbnb's Instant Book feature. (Airbnb)

So if you ever find yourself in a situation like Bill's, remember that there could be a charming houseguest waiting for you in the jam, all thanks to the last-minute unsung hero of modern travel: Airbnb.

Pro tip: Download crucial travel apps like Airbnb and HotelTonight before your trip and pre-charge your account with your credit card in case you need to act fast, like Bill, to save yourself when others do nothing to decide on your promise of a roof over your head.

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Kurt's key

Bill's story is a reminder that even the best-laid plans can go awry, and in these moments, the flexibility and reliability of platforms like Airbnb aren't just a convenient source of hotel alternatives; They are crucial.

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How do you plan your trips and what essential app or tool do you use to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip? Will you be buying for yourself or your loved ones? Notify us by email

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