I was working the front desk one night when a young lady approached the desk and asked if there were any rooms available and if so, what was the rate. I told her we did have rooms available and quoted the rate. She said she would be right back and left. Now I’ve heard that before!
Within ten minutes she was back saying, “I have a reservation and would like to check in.” When I came on duty I had looked at the guests yet to check-in and her name wasn’t on the list. But now, in checking once more, there she was; and the rate was less than that which I had quoted her earlier.
In those ten minutes, she had gone to her car and contacted one of the hotel discount internet sites. She had booked a room through them.
That sounds great – but there are some things you might want to keep in mind.
First, you are paying more to the discount site then they are paying to the hotel. This, of course, is where they make their profit – along with any fees they might be charging. Often, the desk clerk is not allowed to tell the actual rate that is being charged for the room. If you request a copy of your folio when leaving, the clerk will explain that since you did not pay the hotel, the hotel cannot give a receipt for the accommodations and taxes, only the incidentals (e.g. room service, phone calls) paid for by the guest directly. Any receipt would have to come from the discount site. Nevertheless, a discount is a discount.
Second, just because rooms are available, a discounted price might not be offered. The TV ads make it sound like any and every empty room is available for a discount. That’s not the way the system works, however.
The hotel’s GM receives a variety of reports every day; one of which tells the number and rate that nearby hotels are offering through the discount sites. To stay competitive, the GM then blocks off a certain number of rooms at a certain rate to be made available to the discount sites. Not every empty room is discounted! Even if rooms are not reserved, the GM may not offer any rooms at a discount. For example, if there is a special event going on, the rooms might not be discounted in expectation of a heavy walk-in trade.
Finally, you may not get GRP points. Hotels have “guest reward programs” offering points based on how much is spent for a hotel stay. These points are then used for the hotel or airline mileage or even gift cards. But frequently points are not provided for rooms booked through the discount sites. If the hotel offers 10 points per dollar spent, an undiscounted room at $100 offers you 1,000 points; but if you book through the discount site for $75, you get 0 points.
Keep these things in mind when making any discount decisions.
By: Joe Fairchild
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