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Every single hotel that caters corporate clients in the USA still uses fax. We don't get reservations through fax, but that is the best way to get credit card authorization. A lot of corporate booking systems are automated to send out Fax for credit card authorization after they book the room online.

Also, it's much better for our Front desk staff, as they don't have to constantly check the email. There is only 1 fax number, and anyone can send out the fax and whoever is working at the front desk gets a printed copy without doing anything.

I really wish there is a modern alternative to FAX.

Edit: What I mean by a modern alternative to Fax is that the sender can send high-resolution color documents without going through multiple steps. Scan documents to a computer, convert to PDF, Send an email with an attachment, Check email periodically, Print Email.

I have converted most of our documents to digital forms, and sync to all computers. Yet all my employees rather copy documents as they think its much faster and convenient. They will make 100s of copies of the document.

We accept all documents through email or fax. Last week we received an email with a one-page contract that was broken into 4 images. We asked to send it again and they rescanned and send it again the same way. I used a word to print 4 images into one page and call it a day.

> I really wish there is a modern alternative to FAX

What's missing from email + a couple lines of script code? (Or if you prefer, a lightweight piece of software that does the same thing). It seems like that covers all the cases you describe: automatically prints, don't have to check it, you can have only one email, etc. I mean the fact that some other parties are stuck on a legacy system is of course always a good reason, but that's not really a lack of a modern alternative.

> What's missing from email + a couple lines of script code?

Medical use: I call someone to tell them to expect a fax. I send the fax. I call the person and ask if they got the fax.

When sending the fax I hit the button and hear a dial tone. I know my machine is connected to the exchange. I dial the number and hear the ring tone. I know the recipient's machine is connected to the exchange. I hear their machine pickup and negotiate with mine. I know our machines are connected. My fax goes through. If it doesn't go through I get an error. If it doesn't go through on the recipient's machine I get an error.

You don't need this for a hotel booking.

You do need this if your patient is suicidal and plans to end their life and you're making a referral to a crisis team.

Unfortunately, many places do not use real fax machines plugged into POTS. They use virtual fax machines which do goodness-knows-what over the Internet. So, we get the drawbacks of fax combined with the unknown status of Internet.

It's a real mess. There's a huge amount of money (in the UK NHS) to be made with a better replacement.

In many parts of the world they use WhatsApp for he equivalent workflow in multiple domains.

That little green tick when someone reads your message is a surprisingly critical part of the workflow.

You could always call before and after an email. I've done that before, when dealing with someone I didn't trust to read her email.

- Not all hotel owner/operator can write code.

- Spam: We get tons of spam FAXes too. But compare to emails, way less spam.

- Also, most of the people who send out fax have a hard time scanning and emailing documents.

> Not all hotel owner/operator can write code.

Yea, dont worry, I wasn't going for the "lol why doesn't everyone just learn Python and spin up a Docker container on ECS" trope. That's why I specified a lightweight piece of software, which is how everything used to work before the rise of the Web and mobile devices changed software distribution.

> Also, most of the people who send out fax have a hard time scanning and emailing documents.

Yes, this is the legacy third parties thing I was talking about. But this constraint doesn't have anything to do with the lack of a modern replacement for fax. On top of that, there are plenty of services (including free ones) that fake a fax number if necessary, with the standard caveat that inserting a service layer into your business workflow introduces risk.

Note that I'm not suggesting that you switch: when the road meets the rubber, it's often the rational choice for businesses to stick with old technologies for a variety of reasons. I was just puzzled by your more-general wish for a modern equivalent of fax, when there have existed "modern equivalents of fax" for decades that are superior on pretty much every axis.

Nah people complained about software bloat before the internet too. They e been doing that since the invention of compilers.

I'm outside the USA, but my employer organizes a lot of travel all around the world — on every continent, from the USA to Somalia to Fiji to some rainforest in Brazil.

The fax machine was thrown out last year, after sitting unused for years. I assume we reserve and pay for hotels over the WWW. Emails sent to (and from) 'travel@example.org' are seen in a single mailbox by the people who organize travel and their manager. Outlook goes "Ping!" when an email is received.

If it's necessary, the secretary can access those emails from home or holiday.

> Scan documents to a computer, convert to PDF, Send an email with an attachment, Check email periodically, Print Email.

Any scanner / printer-scanner / photocopier-printer-scanner made in the last 15 years will do the first half of this in one step (i.e. insert document, press "email", enter address or choose from the address book, press "Scan & Send").

Mail delegation covers "anyone can send it out" and 'there is only 1 fax number". Automatically print covers "paper automatically appears" and "don't have to constantly check the email".

What exactly are you hoping to modernize (other than "technology A has been around longer than technology B"). If it's hardware e.g. a physical fax machine with a physical line and you want to get rid of that line there are existing options to do that with or without getting rid of the fax machine and with or without changing the workflow to some other technology stack like email.

If it's "fax is insecure" I agree but until that actually becomes a problem for the businesses on the other end nobody is going to care enough to deal with the change.

> "fax is insecure"

Fax is not secure.

Something like "Sender goes to the machine, and he punches my number or identification and it prints the document at my hotel"

Also fax's tend to be horribly insecure at the recipient end. You're not sending to a person, you're sending to some physical location, usually public, and hoping nobody loses it or picks it up and read it.

This is fairly common at hospitals (when they don't have a fax server setup) and manifests as "oh the fax didn't come through" (even though it definitely sent successfully).

Satisfies HIPPA. Something like "stand by the fax machine and tell the person on the other end they can send the fax"

Imagine a future where faxes are a private alternative form of communication. Image machines specifically designed to send encrypted data using phone lines. Maybe there is room innovation there, fax 2.0 is encrypted private alternative form of communication when all others have been exhausted.

Maybe we can attach a typewriter to them as well so you can get all your private communication needs in one package. I know hipsters will be all over this.

Heck we could even use shortwave radio to transmit these: http://hamfax.sourceforge.net/

You may joke about SW, but there are not a few applications for a secure encrypted channel that is difficult to MITM and doesn't go through nation-state infrastructure.

The proper solution is to implement a way to pay hotels online with the proper verification procedures. They can still require photo IDs and credit cards for incidentals at checkin, but there's no reason I shouldn't be able to use Apple Pay to pay for someone else without ever sending any documentation to the hotel other than the name of the person they should be expecting.

A lot of small business owner has one company credit card. They send the credit card information to us through fax for the employees that are checking in without the company credit card. Employees are still using their personal card for incidentals.

Big companies use travel agencies. They fax a virtual credit card. Depending upon the company, the credit card in the reservation won't authorize. We can only charge the credit card in the fax.

Yes, my point is all of that can be obviated if the hotel offered an online payment system where you can just pay online, same as you can with Expedia.com or Hotel Tonight or Priceline or Amazon.com

However, the major brands would rather have all of their hotel guests be inconvenienced and have people's personal information and ID scans flying around insecure systems operated by minimum wage hotel personnel with high turnover.

This is so that they (Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Choice, Wyndham, etc) can offload the chargeback risks and payment processing costs onto the franchisees.

all of that can be obviated if the hotel offered an online payment system

I spent the weekend making reservations at nine hotels for a two-week trip. Of the nine, three could be paid online. Two could be reserved online, but will have to be paid with plastic at check-in. Two had web sites, but I had to call to make a reservation. Three didn't have web sites at all.

The vast majority of lodging options in the United States are not chains, or hooked up to an app.

This Aug 2015 article says US hotel room supply broke 5 million rooms:


and this Mar 2015 infographic on HotelNewsNow.com shows over the 10 biggest brands having over 4 million rooms, worldwide.


Some of those brands have hit 1 million rooms each, so I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of rooms in the US are able to be reserved online, and even the boutique hotels not affiliated with bigger brands have an online presence in my experience.

The only hotels I've seen not online are the low budget motels or smaller lifestyle businesses in a few niche locales here and there. Even then, I've seen them on booking.com where you enter your details, and booking.com emails or faxes the motel operator the details of your reservation.

I stated lodging option, meaning places to stay. I was not tallying hotel rooms, which is another metric.

You and I apparently travel different places, so my experience is different than yours.

But you're right about booking.com having the best chances of booking online in very small places.

> Also, it's much better for our Front desk staff, as they don't have to constantly check the email. There is only 1 fax number, and anyone can send out the fax and whoever is working at the front desk gets a printed copy without doing anything.

Seems like the answer here is to just have a "fax machine" but replace "phone number" with "email address" and automatically print any documents sent to it ("documents" being defined as the emails themselves and/or - if present - attachments in specific formats like PDF, DOC(X), ODF, etc.). Shouldn't be terribly difficult even for a DIY project, let alone as a full-blown commercial product.

A spam filter would of course be a given.

Now there's a spam filter and suddenly you get all the unreliability that comes with that from email (someone can claim the filter must have blocked it, and there's no proving otherwise).

Well yeah, you either guarantee that all messages are received or you filter out unwanted messages. Depends on what's the more pressing issue.

If I may, I would add that it is (obviously) unheard of computer viruses sent by FAX, whilst - besides the "benign" (if we can call it so) spam - a generic hotel e-mail is bombarded by phishing attempts and more generally "check this attachment (enclosed invoice)" or "booking confirmation check the attached image for credit card number" kind of letters, so, besides the time needed to open the e-mail, the e-mails are anyway a "risk".

The worst that can happen with a FAX is that the "attacker" can make you consume some paper and printer ink.

It's not exactly a virus, but last fall some folks put together a PoC showing how certain fax machines could be compromised over the phone line, and used to gain access to their connected networks. [1]

[1] https://blog.checkpoint.com/2018/08/12/faxploit-hp-printer-f...

Yep, IF the FAX is connected to network (some are, some aren't) and I would be surprised (even if the researchers do state that) that a "generic" exploit (meaning ALL brand/model of all-in-ones) is possible (maybe they would need a "library" of similar exploits and test them until they find the "right" one for the given brand/model at the other end).

Most exploitation is not "generic" in that way.

There is an alternative, called internet.

Faxing for CC authorizations certainly is not the best. Or I’m way confused and don’t understand your conditions of “best”

There is an alternative, called internet.

I routinely stay in places that don't have internet service, either deliberately (ranches and luxury off-grid getaway places), or because there is no infrastructure.

Internet isn't the solution to everything. In fact, some very high-end restaurants are now only taking reservations by telephone. And there was an article (NYT?) a few months ago about exclusive restaurants now only taking reservations by letter.

If internet was the answer to all of this, then Google wouldn't have spent billions of dollars on a system to call businesses to place orders and make reservations for you.

If you have a phone line to fax, you have a phone line to dial in to an isp. Then you can setup a secure connection? I don’t see the issue you are describing.

Also totally unclear how a reservation to eat compares to my credit card details going over plain phone line?

Google just wants market share in every market that exists.

I have a cheap home scanner, which can scan and email by pushing one button, and (I think) just attaches a pdf. PDF pretty much is the modern version of the fax.

Similarly, pretty much any large multi-function printer (the thing as big as a photocopier) has a scan-to-email function.

The one at my work can scan both sides of a sheaf of papers at about 2 sheets per second, and attach it as a single PDF or set of JPEGs etc.

I have traveled quite a bit over the years and never been asked to fax. I just give card info over the phone

u dont have to keep checking email. u can actually create a separeate email address that will automatically print everything it receives and give that email address to those people who faxes u confirmations.

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