A Solution to Hotel Booking and Rate Frustrations

Use the strategies we explain so you don't pay over the odds for your hotel room

If I’m staying at a hotel I’ve stayed at before and like, I’ll generally call the hotel directly to make the booking rather than go through an online site.  I do this for two reasons – first in the hope of finding some sort of special discount direct from the property, and secondly to save them money.

If a hotel is selling its rooms through any online travel agency, it is paying probably somewhere between 10% and 20% commission to the online travel agency, and possibly other fees and commissions to whatever franchise system it belongs to for going through their central booking system too.

But – and here’s the stupid thing.  As often than not, when I call a hotel directly, they quote me a rate higher than that available online.  I tell them that and their response is invariably ‘Oh yes sometimes there are online specials that we are not allowed to match – you should go and book the hotel through the website you saw the rate on’.

Isn’t this crazy stupid?  At the very least, why not simply match the online rate?  I’ve just finished calling two hotels – one was asking $124 instead of $112 online, the other $80 instead of $64 online.  I also indicated, to the first hotel, I was a Platinum level member of their frequent guest program, and if they could give me some comfort about the possibility of an upgraded room, I’d be willing to pay twice the cost of their competitor, just a couple of doors down the street, with the $64 online rate, but not only would they not budge from the $124 direct rate, they wouldn’t consider any upfront upgrading either.

Of course, the reality is that in both cases, I was talking to a generic receptionist/reservationist front desk person; probably one of the most junior people in the hotel’s hierarchy, and a person with little or no interest in helping the hotel she works for win extra business.  She also probably has little or no authority to override the rates she sees in her computer, and if she possibly has one or two guests standing in front of her at the counter, at the same time, she just wants to get you off the phone as quickly as she can.

So what should I do – and what should you do in such cases?  I thought about this and realized that I’d earlier written a four part series all about how to negotiate the best hotel rates, and that I’d never added an intended fifth part to the series, which was intended to be all about these types of scenarios.

So, no sooner said that done (well, almost).  I put pen to paper (metaphorically) and the result is now the long awaited part five to this series – Negotiating the Lowest Hotel Rates – Who to Speak With and What to Say.

I also have a related four part series about How to Save Money with Priceline.

So, whether you simply read the new part five to my how to negotiate hotel rate series, or if you read all five parts of the series – and possibly the Priceline series too (which I’m particularly proud of), you should find plenty on the topic to use next time you go booking a hotel.

2 thoughts on “A Solution to Hotel Booking and Rate Frustrations”

  1. Hi David, In the past year I’ve had to attend meetings where a group rate had been previously arranged. In the old days, if you called the central Rez number for Marriott for example, they would have no knowledge of the negotiated rate, and tell you to call the hotel directly, more often than not on a non-toll free line.

    Three times this past year because of the past experieces, I called the local Marriott, Hilton, Doubletree and asked for the reservations department. In each case, I was transferred to their Central Rez service. My clues were a change in the ‘quality” of the phone connection, the ACD announcement, and actually asking the reservationist I reached if they are at the specific hotel or in a central local.

    In each case I was told I was dealing with the “Central Rez” department.

    You clearly know the industry better than I, but I wonder, if with the downturn in the economy, more of the franchise hotels are finding it cheaper to close their in-house sections, and pay (I assume) some service fee to their Centralized Service.

    Regards, David

    1. Hi, David

      You raise a very good point. I’ve had similar experiences too.

      In such cases I’ll usually see if I can get the central rez person to negotiate a special rate on behalf of the hotel I’m calling about, but with limited success, so I often end up calling the hotel back and asking if I can speak to the Duty Manager.

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