The place to kick back, relax, have a few cold ones, and grill a few on the BBQ


Postby |3lack|ce » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:03 am

Ok, before I begin this rant a little lesson in Online Travel Agencies is in order...

You go up shopping online for a hotel room. You all know where to go, the adverts are everywhere unless you've been living under a rock. You pick the hotel, pick the dates, pick the room size, pay the Online Travel Agent your money, and you're good to go - right? No big issues here.

Now what goes on behind the scenes -
Many moons ago when the hotel you picked signed up for the OTA's service, he promised them a discount from the posted price. This means if you pay the OTA $100 for your room, odds are the OTA is paying much less - say around the neighborhood of $75 to $90 for that same room. So your reservation comes to your hotel of choice via their reservation system, is entered into their property management system and your room is booked at that lower price. We are under VERY EXPLICIT instructions never to reveal exactly what an OTA pays us for any given room, nor are we to have you sign anything which shows that price, nor are we to give you a receipt. You ARE NOT our customer! You are the OTA's customer, and the OTA is our customer!
You didn't even pay us with your money - they paid us with theirs, after receiving yours. Keep all this in mind.

Now SOME OTA's have what is called "Opaque rate bidding" - or as one very popular OTA calls it, "Bid your own rate".
This encompasses a simple system that the hotels have set up with the OTAs, telling them that our rock bottom rate is X, and that anything a potential customer bids over and above X is fine with us. When you, as a customer, "Bid your own rate," you are bidding on THE CHEAPEST AVAILABLE ROOM! This means you're not getting the honeymoon suite, or even the room with 2 beds. You're getting the smallest, cheapest space a human can possibly rent from a hotel.

[RANT] So I'm sitting at work today having a wonderful Friday and enjoying the beautiful weather we're having outside, when the phone rings. The name of the guest and OTA are changed because I'll be damned if they'll ever find me liable for any of this horsecrap. Anyway, Customer Q is on the phone. A female, quite agitated, not in a good way. She proceeds to inquire if she's getting a double room on her reservation which she *just* made on PfreakinIhatethiscompanyline. Now this kinda gets me agitated a little too since I know for a fact if she *just* made it it's not in our main computer yet, so I have to dig up the reservation on the corporate site, which takes a few minutes, and I bloody well know she's bid her own damned rate for it, but here I go, hoping...

No such bloody luck. They bid their own. There it sits in all its glory, a nonsmoking single room (our cheapest - one bed) at a phenominally low rate (boss must've adjusted them down again). So I apologize to the agitated customer Q for the inconvenience of all this, and tell her that I do have double rooms available, but that she'll have to pay me an additional charge of $20 a night + tax when she arrives. Customer Q goes apeshit on me, gets my name, boss's name, and swears she's calling corporate on us (as if - we're a freakin franchise...let her), and hangs up on me.


5 minutes later I'm attempting to check in a guest when PfreakinIhatethiscompanyline calls me...
I explain the same thing to her. She laughs and says she gets this situation all the time. I ask her why she doesn't fix it on their website then instead of portraying that they negotiate SO WELL that their guests can have the best room in the house for prices I couldn't break even on?

Ok, so there's the story. I'm thoroughly torqued at PfreakinIhatethiscompanyline for their misrepresentation to the customer. I'm further (but only a little, it wasn't truly her fault being one of the ignorant masses who want something for nothing) torqued at customer Q, since she threatens corporate complaints against me when I went out of my way to be sympathetic and nice.

Sorry to tell you this folks, but even Captain Kirk himself CANNOT negotiate the best room for the bottom dollar. It ain't gonna happen. Hoteliers are in business to make money, not to give away charity. How do you think we can afford to build these nice hotels and pay our staff to cater to your every need if our customers didn't pay us for the service we provide?
The one thing a customer service specialist can never teach is 'being nice.'
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Postby Egaladeist » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:31 am

Everyone wants something for nothing..a luxury suite at the price of a cheesie motel room ... as they say, you get what you pay for :mrgreen:
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Postby rapier57 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:25 am

I checked out Priceline and Orbitz, and stay away from them. Priceline because you commit $$ in advance before you even know what hotel and room type you are getting, and there are no refunds. Orbitz because they charge you up front and make you jump through a lot of crap. We like to deal with the individual hotel's reservation web site, or call directly. Due to time zone differences, we usually get the friendly, chatty night auditor to make reservations with. Much more satisfactory, you are clear on what you reserve, and you get better service.

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Postby |3lack|ce » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:47 pm


Dealing with an OTA might get you a little bit lower price (with us if they pay posted rate it saves them 6 bucks), but the hassles involved with them are enormous. Ever tried to cancel a room with an OTA? Good luck with that, in two years I've received exactly 3 faxes from the OTA mentioned in my rant requesting cancellation due to emergency. I approved those 3, but I cringe at the thought of how many rooms that have sat vacant all night due to no show - which were paid for.

Dealing with me directly might cost you that additional 6 bucks, but if you need to cancel you need only call me and it's done, no charge to you. Another really big thing is that our hotel also has suites (if you want to call them that, they're really single rooms with twice the floor space, a hide-a-bed couch and a few other small amenities) which rent exactly $10 over my listed price for singles. You cannot get them via OTA (or at least the one I'm pissed at), and they're perfect for the on-the-go individual who uses his room for more than just sleeping.

Are OTA's bad? Hell no! I've been known to use Hotels.Com myself when travelling (they're one of the good guys, although I've never tried to cancel a room through them..). The real trick to OTA's is KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GETTING BEFORE YOU SPEND $$! Read - it all boils down to reading - and too many people are too lazy to read the entire page. The particular guest yesterday tried to save face for herself by placing the blame squarely on my shoulders - she wasn't even my customer! I found it very amusing as I opened up the 'customer care' case with corporate, advising them of the size and shape of the arse she so willingly showed me over the phone. I'd love to see how they handle her!
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Postby Aspman » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:58 am

Heh, I use Laterooms.com a lot over here.

but you're never quite sure what goes on in the background. Often I've actually found I can get the same or a better rate by going direct or that the super discount rate is really just the current special offer open to all.

Buyer beware.
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