Choice is clueless about business travel

Old Dec 29, 16, 1:33 pm
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Choice is clueless about frequent travelers

Last night my options by New Orleans airport:

$59 Econo with horrible reputation (every other Choice was more expensive)
$79 Sheraton, where my Platinum status gets me upgraded 100% of the time, to better room plus lounge access (without even asking for it).

At Econo, I'd have to check the bed for bugs, I'd get nothing at check-in, nothing at breakfast. No upgrade to best available room.
At Sheraton, "welcome back Mr, thanks for being a Platinum member. You can have free breakfast as your platinum amenity, but you'll have lounge access and we have breakfast for you there, would you prefer 500 points instead?".

Econo: walk to lobby and purchase a water.
Sheraton: two free bottles in room, unlimited sodas and waters in the lounge.

Econo: place a towel on the floor get in a calisthenics workout.
Sheraton: gym with nice machines and free weights next to the pool.

Econo: checkout at 11am, staff knocking on door or walking in at 9am. Usually no "do not disturb sign available"
Sheraton: "would you like the complimentary 4pm checkout?"

It's not that I need the better amenities all the time, but Choice needs to bridge the gap by lowering rates. We stay at Choice for 2 (and only 2) reasons: super low rates and great promotions! Right now the promotion is horrid (double points? no thanks) so I've been staying at all Marriott and SPG, I've already hit my platinum status for all. Without the stay-2-get-1-free promo, Choice is way behind. They could do things that cost zero like: recognize diamond members, upgrade them to the small suites or slightly better rooms. Hand diamond members a bottle of water. Thank them for staying, offer later checkouts.

This year I have stayed 72 nights at Choice, 51 at SPG, 53 atMarriott. If the: stay-2-get-1 promo doesn't return, they may never see me again. But they won't notice or care.

Before New Year's eve nights, New Orleans is obviously not filling their rooms. SPG lowered rates to attract business - whereas Choice.com used the same old tired rates they always have during busier times. I bet all the Choice properties were under 10% occupancy. Every night should be a battle to obtain customers. Make aggressive rates, then treat people right. We don't care if they properties don't have amenities if we are getting something else in return like low rates, good promos, and a pleasant experience. Lately choice has offered none of the three.

Last edited by Fletch; Jan 1, 17 at 3:08 pm
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Old Dec 29, 16, 2:55 pm
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Choice is often a very good value for me, and it obviously is also a good value for you in 2016.
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Old Dec 29, 16, 5:27 pm
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I WAS a good value and great promos. Seems like it's changing. Higher rates and worse promotions.

Hopefully it's an anomaly not a trend.

They still don't know how to talk to cater to business travelers.
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Old Dec 29, 16, 8:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
This year I have stayed 72 nights at Choice, 51 at SPG, 53 atMarriott. If the: stay-2-get-1 promo doesn't return, they may never see me again. But they won't notice or care.
And what about previous years?

If you had been around Choice multiple years, you should have noticed the pattern: The winter time is the one time of year they always do another kind of promotion, not stay-2-get-1. The rest of the year, they tend to do stay-2-get-1.

So this is not the time of year to worry about the promo not being stay-2-get-1; it never has been this time of year that I can recall (though it was a bit better when it was triple points instead of just double points as it is this time).

The Choice yearly promo pattern to date has gone something like this: spring = stay-2-get-1 phrased as such; summer = stay-2-get-1 disguised as a gift card promo; fall = stay-2-get-1 phrased as such; winter = something/anything else. And then usually after each promo there's a bit of a gap with no promo before the next promo starts.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 6:49 pm
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Choice Hotels are all independently owned and operated. Pricing decisions are made by the hotel (or a company that owns a group of hotels). Therefore, saying Choice is clueless isn't accurate.

As a former Revenue Manager, I'll say that there are many different factors that are considered when pricing hotel rooms. Unless you are on the inside and/or are an expert on a specific market, it's extremely difficult to accurately judge a hotel's success based solely on public rates.

I'll even go a step further and say it's virtually impossible to come up with an accurate analysis related to business travel based on the rates of a single night during a week when many business travelers are not working.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 10:02 am
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
They still don't know how to talk to cater to business travelers.
I don't consider EconoLodge as "business" a brand as, say, Clarion or Comfort Suites.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by writerguyfl View Post
Choice Hotels are all independently owned and operated. Pricing decisions are made by the hotel (or a company that owns a group of hotels). Therefore, saying Choice is clueless isn't accurate.

I'll even go a step further and say it's virtually impossible to come up with an accurate analysis related to business travel based on the rates of a single night during a when many business travelers are not working.
Nice job acting like you know what you're talking about. Unfortunately, everything you said is wrong.

As a customer, and among the most frequent customers, I have true insight as to what it's like.

I go to the same cities over and over, and over. The rates don't go down! They will go up, but they never go down. If Marriott and SPG are more dynamic and go lower than Choice, my statement that Choice is clueless is completely accurate. Everything was priced higher than the beautiful Sheraton with the great lounge and gym. If I'm going to stay in a dirty old Choice, it needs to have dramatically better rates.

You said "it's virtually impossible to dynamically change rates". At the same time you said "the local hotels decide rates." You're a walking contradiction. Owners are constantly telling me how Choice fixes their rates and they can't change them. As far as dynamic pricing, how about this: oh crap we are 90% vacant, lets lower the rate.

Last edited by Fletch; Jan 2, 17 at 6:42 am
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Old Jan 1, 17, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
I don't consider EconoLodge as "business" a brand as, say, Clarion or Comfort Suites.
Congrats, but do you actually read? Or just judge entire threads based off one sentence?

A: I clearly said every other Choice option was priced higher than the Sheraton with lounge and gym.

B: Choice's only option to get a better rate than the vastly superior SPG was the trashy Econo. I don't stay there either.

C: my entire post is directed at Choice. Not Econo Lodge.

Thanks for invalidating my entire point with your nonsense. Is there anyone out there who agrees that Choice needs to price below Marriott and SPG? It's like I'm in the twilight zone with these disagreeing replies.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
You said "it's virtually impossible to dynamically change rates. At the same time you said "the local hotels decide rates."
I said no such thing. What I wrote was that it is virtually impossible for you to judge the success of a hotel based on public rates from a single night.

It seems clear that you aren't interested in hearing any opinion that doesn't validate your position. So, I'm not going to waste my time further here.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 5:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
Nice job acting like you know what you're talking about. Unfortunately, everything you said is wrong.

As as a customer, and among the most frequent customers, I have true insight as to what it's like.

I go to the same cities over and over and over. The rates don't go down! They will go up but they never go down. If Marriott and SPG go down lower than choice my statement that Choice is clueless is completely accurate. Everything was priced higher than the beautiful Sheraton with the great lounge and gym. If I'm going to stay in a dirty old Choice, it needs to have dramatically better rates.
Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
Thanks for invalidating my entire point with your nonsense. Is there anyone out there who agrees that Choice needs to price below Marriott and SPG? It's like I'm in the twilight zone with these disagreeing replies.
Wow. I hope you feel better now.

What a ridiculous rant. We all stay where we get the most value at specific places and specific times. By your own admission, specific Choice properties gave you more value than any other chain of properties at the time and places that you stayed in hotels in 2016.

Hopefully they will continue to do so in 2017. If not, then you will stay elsewhere. However, I have discerned no change in the pricing strategy of the Choice properties that I stay at nor in the Choice program over the course of 2016, so I suspect that I will continue to stay at many Choice properties in 2017 - but certainly not exclusively.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 7:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
Nice job acting like you know what you're talking about. Unfortunately, everything you said is wrong.

As as a customer, and among the most frequent customers, I have true insight as to what it's like.

I go to the same cities over and over and over. The rates don't go down! They will go up but they never go down. If Marriott and SPG go down lower than choice my statement that Choice is clueless is completely accurate. Everything was priced higher than the beautiful Sheraton with the great lounge and gym. If I'm going to stay in a dirty old Choice, it needs to have dramatically better rates.

You said "it's virtually impossible to dynamically change rates. At the same time you said "the local hotels decide rates." You're a walking contradiction. Owners are constantly telling me how Choice fixes their rates and they can't change them. As far as dynamics pricing how about this: oh crap we are 90% vacant, lets power the rate.
If you are comparing $59 vs. $79 rooms at MSY, you are not exactly comparing top-notch "business" brands at MSY. Even the Fairfield Inn, which is close to the bottom of the Marriott ladder is $117.

All you are seeing between the two comparisons you have chosen are minor differences between two places racing for the bottom of the market.
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Old Jan 2, 17, 6:23 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
If you are comparing $59 vs. $79 rooms at MSY, you are not exactly comparing top-notch "business" brands at MSY. Even the Fairfield Inn, which is close to the bottom of the Marriott ladder is $117.

All you are seeing between the two comparisons you have chosen are minor differences between two places racing for the bottom of the market.
Finally something we can agree on. Yes, I'm not comparing top notch business hotels. Now you can go ahead and get that out of your mind.

Maybe without that fact, you try to actually see the point? Other brands can be dramatically nicer, Choice should fight to make sure they have lower rates rather than being empty on low occupant nights. Or try to bridge the gap by treating customers better.

My point, that people seem incapable of understanding: is: Choice did not put up a fight. They were domininated by the value proposition at the other brand. The other brand won because they adjusted to the fact there was no business travel that night so they lowered rates. Choice kept the same rates. If you cannot win on amenities, then you must win with rates. Also, treat frequent travelers better if you want their business. I'm diamond nearly twice-over and get the same treatment as someone just passing through who'll never return.

Last edited by Fletch; Jan 2, 17 at 6:35 am
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Old Jan 2, 17, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Fletch! View Post
I go to the same cities over and over, and over. The rates don't go down! They will go up, but they never go down.
Well, maybe in your cities they don't, or maybe you aren't checking "often enough"?

I go to the same area over and over and over, and I know that some Choice hotels in that area do drop their rates, some day of or day before, some a few days out, some over a week out, and some never. And whether they drop depends of course on load factors (ie, some weeks of the year they never drop, but other weeks they do).

But it's clear to me, looking at the same area over and over again all year, that it's individual hotels making decisions, not Choice overall. Gosh, individual hotels even make decision sometimes about whether to accept Preferred Customer rates (in-high demand periods, a few hotels stop accepting those, while other hotels in the same area never stop accepting them).

So, again, my experience is that hotels make their own pricing decisions independently (or at most by hotel franchise ownership group, not by Choice Hotels headquarters decisions far away).

That's why I don't understand your complain being against Choice headquarters. Perhaps you should find out if many of the Choice hotels in that market are all owned and operated by the same franchise group owner?

Btw, in my area (in southern California) one pattern is that newer hotels with interior corridors command higher prices while older hotels with (mostly) exterior corridors, no matter what brand, have more trouble commanding higher prices. A Comfort Inn & Suites upgraded the property and rebranded to Clarion but unless they count incidentals (which have gone up since breakfast is no longer free) presumably because of outside corridors their room rates have not gone up much at all. An they're in a hotel cluster where all the hotels with interior corridors are higher priced, and all hotels with exterior corridors are lower priced, no matter what the brand.

The one thing that Choice Hotels corporate has done that keeps their prices (at some properties) lower is that they've continued to tolerate exterior corridors, while for example Hilton got rid of most of its exterior corridor Hamptons some years ago. But that's quite indirect, through brand standards. Choice Hotels does influence rates indirectly through brand standards, but some individual hotels can exceed those brand standards, and in that case Choice Hotels had less to do with their rates.

Of course, if you now decide to say that Choice Hotels is clueclass about business travel because they tolerate outside corridors (and because business travelers don't like those), well then that I will have to agree with. (It's just direct control of hotel rates by Choice Hotels that I don't agree with.)

Last edited by sdsearch; Jan 2, 17 at 12:34 pm
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Old Jan 2, 17, 1:46 pm
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~75% of my travel is Per Diem and almost entirely decided by the price with whatever current promo factored in. Upper east coast it's usually Wyndham (78 nights last year). South west coast it's usually Choice (52 nights last year). Middle of the country often goes either way. Local hotel in HI (56 nights last year) I got squat for points.

I've never seen IHG, SPG, Mariott, etc. even remotely close to the rates I'm paying. BW has been consistently higher then Choice & Wyndham for me, but still under the rest.

Maybe it's specific areas.
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Old Jan 2, 17, 2:55 pm
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My experience that large full service hotels ( such as a FS Marriott ) are far more dynamic in their pricing than lower end ( such as Fairfield Inn ) smaller hotels.
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