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I'm trying to spend a night in Iwaki, Fukushima province, but tripadvisor.com is telling me there's no rooms available there for the night I want (September 10 to 11).

I assume that most people going to Iwaki are families going to see Spa Resort Hawaiians, and possibly other family-friendly stuff, and I'm wondering if it's possible to make a booking from others' cancellations.

  1. Are families likely to cancel at the last minute, but are unlikely to book at the last minute?
  2. Does run-of-the-mill accommodation oriented for tourists (not businesspeople) do their best to ensure that all rooms get booked?
  3. How can such accommodation be found? Online, or through the town's local tourism organization?
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You mean like a "standby" reservation? Also try sites other than tripadvisor. I've used the back ends of some booking systems and know from experience what one particular site tells you about availability does not necessarily reflect the actual availability perfectly. (The reason is all the places being aggregated don't contact the aggregator each time they get a booking or cancellation, and they use a myriad of booking systems or a non computerized system so the aggregator often can't be notified automatically). –  hippietrail Sep 5 '12 at 16:18
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@hippietrail yes like a standby reservation. Do standby reservations exist for accommodation, or is that an analogy from flights? –  Andrew Grimm Sep 5 '12 at 20:52
    
@hippietrail with "Also try sites other than tripadvisor", are you saying that other aggregators give different results, or that an individual hotel's website may give a different result, or making a phone call to a tourism organization or a hotel may give a different result? –  Andrew Grimm Sep 6 '12 at 0:39
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Forget Tripadvisor, use the main Japanese hotel booking sites: both Rakuten and Jalan will have way, way more inventory. –  jpatokal Sep 6 '12 at 7:07
    
@AndrewGrimm: I'm saying other aggregators and direct websites may or may not give different results. From your perspective you don't know how they're implemented at the back end but I can tell you there is no unifying system and that at a hostel I worked at we gave hostelbookers and hostelword different information based on all kinds of factors, but mainly to avoid double bookings. jpatokal's tip to try the Japanese sites sounds like a good one. –  hippietrail Sep 6 '12 at 8:03
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You bring up a good point. Cancellation penalties are so different by property that its hard to really get a cancellation system going that would then allow you to fill rooms at the last minute. With that said though, there are sites like laterooms.com and lastminutetravel.com that you could check.

In my travels, I've found that there is always a room available in any given city, its just that you may pay quite a bit for it :-).

The major hotel booking Web sites usually pull from the same global distribution system, but some of them may have a special deal with specific properties and hence while one site will show sold out another may not. So this means you should try them all.

Also, if you know where you want to stay, contact them by phone or e-mail as not all their rooms may be available online. Plus, not all accommodations can be booked online.

I'm an odd traveler as I'll go to a totally unknown destination without a hotel room reservation. After 107 countries traveled, only once I've had to pay $200/night for a room and that was in Amsterdam after walking around for 3 hours and could not find something that was cheaper and that I liked. I was tired and wet from the rain, so I caved.

I hope this helps.

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What Kerwin states is true. It´s very common that hotels, hostels, etc. only put a part of their rooms selling in a given website. You should allways try several websites or/and even call them. It's not uncommon that they reserve some rooms for "walk-in" and phone customers (usually more expensive, but not allways). –  nsn Mar 30 '13 at 14:47
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