It’s no secret that the major hotel companies have been waging a war with online discount brokers like Expedia and Priceline. Frequent travelers have seen the results: “Best-price” guarantees on hotel Web sites, and the denial of points for stays booked through the cheap guys.
Recently, though, a disturbing revelation has been made: the hotel staff itself may give you the cold shoulder if they find out you’ve been tiptoeing through the discount tulips.
In its March issue, Budget Travel magazine presented the confessions of a hotel executive, who over the past decade has worked as a front-desk clerk, auditor, accountant, human resources director, and general manager at several big-name hotel groups.
In his words: “Guests really should reserve directly. It’s been said that we treat guests worse when they reserve through third-party Internet sites. It’s no myth: Of course we treat them worse! Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, Orbitz, Hotels.com — you name it, we turn up our noses at them. At some Web sites, you put in a price and stay at whatever hotel comes up. You can’t tell me that these people care about service! Can’t! The way we look at it, these folks are solely concerned about price, and they probably can’t differentiate good service from bad.
“People who reserve through third-party sites are the first clients we downgrade or relocate if rooms are oversold. Heck, we might even pull the sparkling water, cheese and crackers, and other nice amenities from their rooms. You might think that policies such as these are unspoken rules, but they’re discussed openly during our staff meetings. On the other hand, guests who make reservations through our Web site or call center almost always have access to the lowest published rates. And when you book directly, it says that you picked us for us, and we’ll treat you accordingly.”
Budget Travel is available through the MSNBC.com Web site.