Web Wanderings - Show reflected vacation planning effort

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This summer, my fiance and I are going to Vancouver, and have been planning a trip there for August. That inevitably involves booking rooms, and as it turns out the hotels in Vancouver are slightly more expensive than we were willing to pay.

Enter AirBnB, where people list their homes, spare rooms and entire farms to make a bit of extra room by letting fun-loving tourists rent their place out for a while.

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I have a weird feeling that someone in Australia was doing a very similar vacation plan when they cooked up Instant Hotel, now streaming on Netflix, which collects ten couples (split between two rounds), and gets them to stay in each other’s “Instant Hotel” for a night. The host decorates the home, plans activities and generally tries to make their home and part of Australia look as good as possible. The couples, meanwhile, judge, and whoever gets the highest score wins.

On the face of it, this seems like a broken premise, as some couples might rank each other unduly harshly in order to get a competitive advantage. The casting director of the show managed the impossible trick of getting just enough honest people that the best home won, while also bringing on villains necessary to make the show have a human element. Will a couple rate everyone artificially low to gain a competitive advantage? Of course, but their plans will be slightly foiled by some really enthusiastic houseboat-owning wakeboarders who are delightfully sincere and prone to generous scoring.

Honestly though, the reality show was the least interesting part to me, I didn’t care that one of the couples made up hot water problems, because I was there to look at the fun scenery across Australia and notice how the couples chosen were surprisingly likely to put windows in bathrooms.

Most of all, we approached the show like we approached our own vacation, pointing out details we really liked and those which could be a deal breaker if we were booking our own vacation. Plus, since we actually were booking our own vacation, our conversation about potential places to stay often crossed over with our conversations with the homes the show had on offer. It was a fun time and might have actually got us a nicer room at the end of the day, a win for everyone.

— Devin Wilger

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