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Leadership Lifestyle

When technology fails – how people managed to travel in the old days

We now have a couple days left on our dad and son trip. Zurich was the most distant place on our journey, and we are now going back to Memmingen. Today we stop in another beautiful place, Saint Gallen. It is known for the beautiful cathedral. We are well prepared. We stay here for just one night, so everything is planned; parking, self-checking hotel in the center of the town. We should have nice, easy and relaxing day. What we didn’t plan for was a technology failure.

Good planning and preparation 📑📌

I used Booking.com service to book our accommodation. We were staying in rather inexpensive places. The main category for me, since I traveled with a small kid, was safety. The hotel didn’t need to be fancy. It needed to be clean and in a good location. I used various sites to check recommendations and reviews.

We’ve been lucky so far, and pretty much all places that we stayed were decent. It is interesting how the decision where to stay may be dependant on the situation. In Zurich, I didn’t want to stay in a straight city centre. It was expensive, and also it wasn’t quiet. We chose suburbs so that we could save some money for other attractions and even got a chance to commute by tram.

In St Gallen, I had a different approach. I wanted to book something close to the centre, as we were staying there only one night. And the things we wanted to see was in the centre. To be precise, it was only the city centre that we wanted to see in Saint Gallen.

After rather an uneventful journey, we reached our destination. It took me a while to get used to traffic organisations. I reached the hotel to find the first challenge of the day.

Be prepared, be flexible ⭐️⭐️🚙🚗

The hotel had two stars. I knew about it, and it didn’t bother me. It was in the town centre, super close to all attractions. It was one of those places with a self-checking method. I hoped to learn something new as I never used it before. It was a compromise between proximity to centre and luxury. It had two stars, and it was fine.

But it also had the same amount of parking spaces. And that became a serious challenge. I am now in the centre of the city I have never been to. The plan was to park my car, deal with self-checking, drop our stuff and go for a walk to enjoy the beautiful town.

I needed to find some other parking place. After a few rounds, I finally found some decent parking. We decided to pack only the necessary stuff to avoid carrying all our languages with us. It was quite hot outside, and our hotel was not that close anymore.

Self-check-in: quick and easy, or not? 🤷🏻‍♂️

We finally were ready to check-in. To do it, I needed to use one of those self-check-in machines. It looked like a cash machine. It had a few languages to chose from. “Easy,” I thought. I started clicking around and promptly entering my booking reference and unique PIN. The machine was not accepting it.
Well, I guessed, I made a mistake.

Saint Gallen | Self-check-in machine
Saint Gallen | Self-check-in machine

I started all over again, with no success. Usually I try to stay paperless, but when travelling with a kid I tried to have a backup. I prepared for a situation like this. I pulled my paper notes to find all needed contacts and telephone numbers. Then, I noticed that my booking was to start at 2 pm. It was only a quarter past midday, so we decided to go with the small backpacks that we had with us and have some ice creams.

It was time to go back and finally do check-in. We went there very slowly to make sure we were well after 2 pm. To my surprise, the self-check-in machine still didn’t work. It kind of worked, but couldn’t find my reservation. It was time to call someone.

I started to pull all the needed information. The phone that I had from the booking system didn’t work. “Maybe it was a big scam after all?” I thought for a moment. But I checked reviews, people were somewhat positive, and their experience was excellent.

Talking to strangers 🧙🏼‍♂️

I was about to try to call the number that I found in a check-in machine when I noticed a stranger standing closely and observing me. I would ignore him, but he looked like Spaniard from the Christofer Columbus time. Very tall, wearing a black leader jacket and typical Spanish beard.

When he started walking towards me, my first instinctive reaction was fly or fight. He might notice it as he smiled and very gently greeted us with German “servus”. He said something in German. When he realised we didn’t understand, he promply added in English:
– “This machine doesn’t work, you need to go upstairs. There is someone at the lobby, and you will be able to check it.”

That’s all for self-check-in machine and learning new things. All I learnt was that it is good to talk to people.

We managed to check-in. After a quick refresh, we went to more sightseeing. Saint Gallen is a beautiful place. Travelling with kids, however, has its joys. After a bit of travelling and a bit of excitement with parking and hotel we were quite tired. We decided to go back to the hotel earlier, but this time we chose a different path.

We have plenty of time ⏰

While we were walking we discovered a beautiful park with a fantastic playground. It had a lot of obstacles in the form of animals. After a visit to the zoo just days before, it was all we needed. My son, who was exhausted, magically found a ton of energy and we spent more than an extra hour there.

Finally, we went to the hotel, performed the evening routing and were ready to sleep. Then we found another interesting thing about accommodation in the town centre. There were a few old churches, including the mentioned cathedral.

Most of them had old clocks. And some of them were still working, and like in the old days, they were informing people about what time it was. Some of them marked a full hour, but some of them were also marking every quarter past an hour. It was not noticeable during the day, but in the evening and at night… it was a different story. We were left with counting sheep and hoping they would stop at some point through the night.

They did, as we woke up the next day ready for other adventures.

Lessons learned from this coffee journey ☕️ 🎓

  • Two is one; one is none. Technology is good, but when it fails, what is your plan B?
  • Don’t judge people based on how they look like. The same goes to business; other teams are not your competition; they are there to help.
  • Do not be stack with plan A for too long. When it doesn’t work, move to next stage, or next best course of action.
  • Check the price for major components of your plan 😎
Saint Gallen | parking price 🅿️
Saint Gallen | parking price 🅿️

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