So this past week was an interesting one for travel. I was attending the Folk Alliance Internationals conference in Toronto through Sunday. Nothing to do with multi-family housingjust an organization Im Treasurer of and a chance listen to a lot of incredible music while getting very little sleep.
I was supposed to fly home Sunday evening, change out clothes and fly the next morning to the NAA Student Housing conference to be on a student housing pricing panel (probably a good topic for a future blog), then on to Rainmakers LRO User conference in Palos Verdes, CA. Side note: Bruce and Tammy sure know how to pick resortsthe Terrenea is just a fabulous resort with view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina that are just spectacular.
Unfortunately, the weather in Denver decided not to cooperate. With a foot of snow and high winds, the airport pretty much shut down and my flight was canceled. After much teeth gnashing and finally re-scheduling my flights to skip going home and get straight to Vegas (first time Ive ever done a professional speaking engagement in t-shirt, jeans and sneakers; funny thing wasit being a student housing conferenceI wasnt even the most under-dressed person in the room), I had to figure out what to do for a hotel room that night. And since it was a weather delay, United wasnt responsible and I had to paywhich is what brings us to why Im blogging about this.
Classic dilemma hereI really just want a room for as cheap as possible since theres almost no distinguishable value differences between my choices (assuming I limit to generally reputable brands). Its hotel rooms as the ultimate commodity. But Im also a bit desperatetired, not looking forward to the 340a wake-up call coming in roughly 8 hours and thus really not interested in a whole of searching.
So I go to the hotel kiosk by baggage claim and call the Comfort Inn Airport North. The guy tells me that the rate would be $105. I normally dont try negotiate with hotels even though I know it can be done (I just dont want to be that guy), but heckIm tired, I really dont want to spend more than I have to, and Ive got a blog to write. So I ask the guy if theres anything that can be done with the rate. He says no, and I play the sympathy cardnot even for a traveler stranded by a flight cancellation due to weather? Interesting that we might expect someone to give us a break when its due to weather but we probably wouldnt expect the hotel to budge even for someone who just screwed up and forgot to book a hotel night. Same economic value to the hoteland its not like theres a long-term client relationship here since I dont know if Ill ever be back in Toronto; and if I am, Im not likely to stay in that area.
So it gets even more interesting. He responds that he cant do anything. But, if I go to the Travelers Aid desk and book through them, they can get me a $72 rate. More work on my part, the Comfort Inn is probably paying a commission and thus getting even less than the $72, but there you go. So a) why is there this hidden channel that I only discovered by pleading for sympathy and b) why cant he just give me the $72 rate over the phone and be done with it? We dont tend to have these channel conflicts in multi-family housing, so Im not sure theres a lesson to learn in our industry, but theres definitely something to explore as a matter of pricing strategy and customer service in general. Im not saying they were wrongbut it did seem a bit odd. What do you think?