Savvy accommodation bookers are engaging in what they view as the new ‘sport' of ‘beating the hotel revenue manager' in order to pay as little as possible. According to Niels Pedersen, managing director of 1500-member Supranational Hotels, for increasing numbers of potential guests in most European and Nordic countries the ‘tariff-busting' practice has become an obsession.
Many have learned simple tricks like avoiding an headquarters conference hotel with its official marked-up prices, or to use those web services or trade consortia where lower rates have been agreed and fixed further ahead. Others call hotels direct and pretend to be eligible for the corporate rate of a locally important or a world-famous company, and some target airport hotels as being ‘softer' and the easiest to bargain with.
The fastest-growing ruse is to cancel a reserved room near the arrival date at no-penalty in order to immediately re-book at a lower displayed rate. Probably 10% of cancellations are now occurring for this reason.
Globally-branded hotels are viewed as being hungrier to fill every remaining room and therefore more willing to negotiate downwards than are independent hotels which resent price-cutting, whilst larger properties more readily say ‘make me an offer' than do smaller venues.
Rate-hagglers also identify the advance booking pattern in hotels across an entire city so as accurately to predict those dates with most availability and therefore likely negotiability.
Comments Niels Pedersen, ‘these would-be price-cutters are not doing it to save five euros or five pounds a room, but are aiming for 50 Euros or £50. Their motive is almost that of revenge - to get back at hotels where they know hugely different prices are charged for precisely the same standard of room on the same day, a practice which leaves a sense of having been cheated.'
He says: ‘the lessons for the hotel industry are to minimise the range of tariffs within this dynamic pricing model and always to give preference to regulars for the cheapest rooms whenever they book. In addition, because revenue managers tend to change jobs every couple of years they should ensure that they have deputies who also know the traditional booking sources and patterns and so can avoid alienating large numbers of repeat guests.'
About London-based Supranational Hotels: London-based Supranational Hotels represent nearly 1500 hotels in over 70 countries and are Europe's largest generator of GDS reservations valued annually at over 200m USD.