How to find a cheap hotel room

Again, all I’m hearing is “I don’t want to pay what something is worth”, and “But WalMart is great for consumers!”

(PS, remind me never to retain you when I’m brought in by creditors to downsize your establishment.)

Right. Here’s the thing: Deep discounts are a serious sign of a business that can’t get people in any other way. Out of the 8 properties I’ve worked for, a couple were nearing bankruptcy, and a couple were able to run at over 90% capacity and able to give the employees raises every year. Want to guess which ones offered those steep discounts? Want to guess who I work for now?

Right now, BTW, our Expedia rate currently saves you four dollars off our rack rate. You’d do better just by having AAA. We’re #1 on TripAdvisor and sold out the past two weekends- In both cases, doing much better than the local Hilton or Marriot affiliates.

We rely on repeat customers. They pay what we’re worth, and they keep coming back. If you want to patronize establishments that are that desperate to get people through the door, that’s your business.  We aren’t, and we’re not willing to play the bidding war game, because we don’t need to- And the biggest reason is that we never started playing it in the first place.

The deep-cut middlemen hurt the industry. Period. They don’t provide the goods or the service, they only aggregate information. Now that’s definitely a service that might be worth paying for, but not to the tune of half the industry’s profits. That translates into real lost jobs and benefits for a hell of a lot of people. You can support that if you want to, but you’re making the overall financial clusterfuck of our economy worse, not better, by doing so.

On the upside, it’s the internet, so it may or may not be true.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand it, many of those online aggregates don’t just provide info, the reason they can offer the prices they do is because they’ve bought blocks of rooms at discount far in advance and are in effect re-sellers. They make their money by selling those highly discounted rooms as slightly discounted rooms, pocketing the difference. That’s why the price is often not that much less than what you can get if you call the hotel directly and ask for a discount. And you’ll get the less-desirable rooms in each category if you don’t book with the hotel, with virtually no chance of a complimentary upgrade if they’re overbooked in your category.

Nowadays, the only way to get decent tickets for a popular, non-classical concert is to go through a re-seller, since they buy up the vast majority of tickets before any schmoe standing in line could do. But getting the right hotel room at the right price isn’t quite so constrained.

How about online for the company itself? My last big road trip I booked online but it was all with the same chain and I used their website so I was not going through Expedia et. al. but still had the ease of going stopping at cities X, Y, Z what is in the area for me to get a clean room and hot shower and not have to call around in each city.

That works too- We maintain our own website, and booking through that is pretty much the same as calling us directly.

If it’s a national chain, some of them are corporate owned and some are individually owned franchises. Whether it’s the same for any specific property depends on the chain and their relationship to it- But in either case, it’s more direct than a reseller.

If the hospitality industry cared enough it wouldn’t be hard to start their own “booking service” that didn’t have the flaws of Expedia and crew and gave the majority of the money back to the hotels. Upkeeping a website isn’t that hard.

I absolutely agree with you 100%. I think that one of the main problems is that the industry is divided between large international chains and small mom-and-pop places, and there’s no central trade/certification/professional organization that all of them belong to the way there is for the music (RIAA, ASCAP) or medical (AMA) industries. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it makes it harder to organize something like that with large scale participation.

Asking me not to compare prices and call the hotel directly on the phone so I can pay whatever price they feel like is similar to asking me to go back to horse and buggy.

Agreed. Personally, I use TripAdvisor and a couple other websites to do my research and decide on a place, so I normally only end up making one phone call. It’s also worth noting that I’m the type of person who would rather speak with a human being than fill out a form, but that’s just me.

Well, the place I’m at now, we actually encourage people to shop around. Again, though, we make it a point to compete over quality rather than price.

What you end up with though, is a situation where competetors get into bidding wars to offer the lowest price- I’m charging $99, so you charge $89, so I drop to $79, and sooner or later we’re both renting rooms for so little that we can’t stay in business. Much like WalMart, it’s great for the consumer in the short term, but a few years down the road you find out that you have a whole lot fewer options and they all look the same.

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Some of the sites are only information, and some get paid commissions after the fact, but yes, you are correct that many of them are in fact resellers.

Your claim is that when the “mom and pop” hotels are run out of the business, there will be no competition because the larger entities will close ranks, and somehow know not to compete with each other?

I guess we’ll find out if this is true, because there’s no disincentive to taking online discounts.

It’s not just that. Those larger entities will be looking for ways to make up for the money they’re losing trying to compete with each other- That means lower wages and fewer benefits for the employees, it means more pressure for corporate to lobby for tax breaks and subsidies, and it means finding other ways to squeeze money out of the consumer- So instead of paying $99 for a room with free breakfast, WiFi, and airport shuttle, you end up paying $69 for the room, $10 for the WiFi, $10 for breakfast, and $20 for a cab that gives the hotel a kickback.

Again, good in the short term, but there are consequences that go way beyond your stay. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and that money that you’re no longer paying needs to come from somewhere else.

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