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Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Old Feb 28, 10, 1:18 pm
  #16  
 
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I doubt that the problem of unwashed riff-raff renting PL hotels is widespread, and in the case of the OP it was probably conflated with the teens-rent-room-for-beer-bash problem. (They used a debit card! Oh my!) Presumably any serious misbehavior on the part of a PL guest will get back to PL who will then simply not accept further bids from the customer.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 1:28 pm
  #17  
 
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"The $35 PL customer is often times more demanding than the biz travelers and often times more apt to trash a room"

I am curious as to what data or experience you base this on. Because in my experience its just the opposite.

Someone paying $200 for a $200 room expects $200 worth of value. All you have to do is spend a few hours reading the TripAdvisor reviews to see how unhappy people can be when they pay a lot for a room and do not get a lot in return.

The person who pays say $75 for that same $200 room IME has a much more forgiving attitude. And the TA reviews bear this out.----"sure the room was small-----but I was paying so little I can't complain"----being very typical of what I have read in those reviews and experienced in my own stays.

And the reason hotels take a discount PL customer is because that room will sit unused if they do not. So not only do they get $35 instead of nothing they get someone who may, like me, also buy breakfast or lunch or drinks.

Something being better than nothing.

This trashing of rooms claim with PL customers I do not believe for a minute. I find most PL posters to be experience and seasoned travelers. At least that is my experience and impression.

Sure it may happen now and then. But it can also happen now and then with full rate paying customers-----some no doubt who become irate because they paid $200 for a room and got $75 worth of service and value.

Doc
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Old Feb 28, 10, 3:45 pm
  #18  
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
I am curious as to what data or experience you base this on. Because in my experience its just the opposite.
Quite a bit of experience actually. I was a consultant for the hotel industry for several years and am very familiar with the ecommerce and OTA side of the business. There is a contingency of PL travelers who are in fact business transient guests, but there's a greater contingency that is not. The business traveler, or frequent traveler, IMHO, is more likely to publically participate in this and other forums as they are the more involved in the travel world - however, a great many travelers that use PL will never post on or refer to a travel forum at all - so you likely don't get their persepective.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc
So not only do they get $35 instead of nothing they get someone who may, like me, also buy breakfast or lunch or drinks.
If you actually buy breakfast, lunch, or drinks (and I'm not talking about a soda from their market area), then you're an exception to the majority of PL travelers.

The profit margin on a $35 room is minimal at best. An average 2* hotel (non-unionized) probably has a CPOR (cost per occupied room) of about $20 - a $3* non unionized is probably about $25-$30, and a 4* is about $30-40. Unionized hotels are generally higher. So, yes, anything above their CPOR is technically profit, but there's also wear/tear on the rooms.

Also, the majority of 2.5* and below hotels do offer breakfast inclusive rates & likely don't have lunch or bar service. Many 3* hotels also offer complimentary breakfast these days as well. Pretty much the only hotels that don't offer complimentary breakfast are independent hotels, full service chain hotels, casino hotels, resorts, and some limited service brands, like Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyards (many of which qualify for 3* ratings on Priceline) - and with the exception of HGI & CY hotels, those are mostly 3.5*+, which you generally won't find for $35 unless you have a desperate hotelier who has no concept of yield management.

One other point to make is that, IME, the traveler paying $200 for a room is less demanding than the traveler paying $75 for that room, who generally has a higher sense of entitlement. You'd think its the other way around, but ask any general manager of a hotel & they'd rather that the less high-maintence premium travelers (who travel more & therefore understand that things happen when traveling - ever notice that the people who are complaining at the airline counters are rarely, if ever, the experienced biz travelers? Same thing goes at the hotel front desk).

****

Total side note...by "trashing of rooms", I don't necessarily mean like a rockstar trashing a room - I mean other things, like smoking in the room in a non-smoking hotel, spilling beer on the carpeting that now makes the room stink of alcohol and carpeting/desks being overly sticky with residues & requires a deep cleaning so it doesn't mildew, leaving bloody towels, broken glass that can injure housekeepers, stealing towels, etc, etc...these are just small examples of things seen in the hotel world. For what its worth, many hotels no longer take cash paying guests unless they have a credit card for incidentals because cash paying guests are usually even worse...it's okay to pay cash at checkout, but many won't take cash at check-in because of things like this.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 3:52 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by mbstone View Post
Presumably any serious misbehavior on the part of a PL guest will get back to PL who will then simply not accept further bids from the customer.
Not likely, unfortunately. PL won't flag someone's account because they've done bad at a hotel...and if they were to do that, all the person needs to do is sign up under a different email addy...
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Old Feb 28, 10, 6:20 pm
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by bhatnasx View Post
IME, the traveler paying $200 for a room is less demanding than the traveler paying $75 for that room, who generally has a higher sense of entitlement. You'd think its the other way around, but ask any general manager of a hotel & they'd rather that the less high-maintence premium travelers (who travel more & therefore understand that things happen when traveling - ever notice that the people who are complaining at the airline counters are rarely, if ever, the experienced biz travelers? Same thing goes at the hotel front desk).
It's not because the $200 traveler is more understanding. It's that the $75 or $45 traveler is spending his or her own money.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 10:23 pm
  #21  
 
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Hotels voluntarily participate in Priceline and Hotwire. The purpose is to sell distressed inventory to cover the cost of an empty room. Every night a hotel room goes empty that inventory can never be recovered and it is lost revenue. I don't see what gripe hotels would have with the majority of Priceline customers - we're doing them a favor!

It's most likely the hotel manager begrudges renting the room at such a low rate and doesn't realize the purpose behind it.

Ironically, I have been treated extremely well when traveling using Priceline and Hotwire. Many times we have been upgraded to the Club level if the hotel has one or a deluxe room, or a room with a view. On the other hand, I recently booked a stay in Atlanta directly through the hotel's website and was given a great deal of grief because I took advantage of the site's advance booking discount as well as a corporate discount that was legitimately available directly from the chain! My wife and I were completely embarrassed at check in to say the least (they treated us as though we were stealing the room from them). So, it's not just Priceline customers who get discriminated against, it's really just low rate bookings that experience problems at some hotels.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 11:51 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
"(When a customer disputes a charge, the merchant had better have every single t crossed and every last i dotted--one tiny flaw and the card-issuing bank will automatically rule in favor of the customer.)"


Protections for the consumer? Good for that.

When I book PL NYOP the only thing I expect to pay for is what I bought at the hotel after I arrived. Drinks. Breakfast. That sort of thing. I do not expect to see any charges whatsoever that do not belong there.

No double billing for the room I already paid PL for. Something hotels have been know to try either on purpose or through incompetence. No breakfast I did not eat. No extra nights I did not stay. No room service I did not order.

They darn well better have ever T crossed if they are going to bill me. Because I refuse to pay for stuff I never bought.

In this I am the same whether I paid the hotel direct or booked through NYOP. And I expect ever other FT'er is the same when it comes to this.
I'm not saying that a company should win a valid dispute.

But too many times I've seen the bank give the money back to the cardholder because there were six blanks to initial and the customer forgot to initial one blank. Anything can happen--coffee can spill on the receipt and blur the signature, the person can sign slightly differently than normal (and the bank will contest it's not a valid signature), or any number of other minor technicalities where the business truly is due the money and a sleazeball customer is just looking to get out of paying for something.

As far as you expecting to pay only for the room--well, when the wallpaper is torn, the towels are missing, the TV glass has a crack in it, or even if it's as simple as you want to stay another night, isn't it only fair that the hotel expects you to pay for those things? Those are the things that extra $250 security hold is to cover. If the hotel charges you for that damage and you then dispute those charges on the grounds you were only told you'd have to pay what you paid Priceline, the merchant is simply covering his you-know-what with that form that he can produce to the credit card issuer when they demand to see proof the customer authorized those charges.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 8:42 am
  #23  
 
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"As far as you expecting to pay only for the room--well, when the wallpaper is torn, the towels are missing, the TV glass has a crack in it, or even if it's as simple as you want to stay another night, isn't it only fair that the hotel expects you to pay for those things? Those are the things that extra $250 security hold is to cover. If the hotel charges you for that damage and you then dispute those charges on the grounds you were only told you'd have to pay what you paid Priceline, the merchant is simply covering his you-know-what with that form that he can produce to the credit card issuer when they demand to see proof the customer authorized those charges."

Fair that I pay for that stuff? Depends.

If I am already back in my home country and I get a bill for 3 missing towels I am going to raise holy heck. If they claim that the TV is now broke and I am the one responsible I am going to raise holy heck.

Because I do not steal towels nor break TV's. Did not do so when I traveled on the companies dime do not do it now that I use PL. But except for my CC folks backing me up what recourse do I have?

If I trash a room then arrest me on the spot if I do not pay. Otherwise turn it into your insurance. Because its just as likely that the maid or a previous guest did whatever you want to now charge me for.

I do understand how someone who spent a career in an industry will see the industries side of things. Just as I a traveler see the travelers side of things. Just human nature.

But "slezball customers" says a lot to me. It reminds me of the people I saw that worked to long in public health clinics that came to see their customers or clients as the enemy. Not all of those PH workers for sure. But far to many.

And as far as extending another night while on a PL reservation? Cannot be done. You either bid again and win. Or you take out a new reservation from the hotel while you are there and pay in full for it.

I for one think the CC company backing me up against hotels that want to bill me for products I never bought or damage I never did to be one of the really great reasons to use a CC.

Good for them for doing their job.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 9:39 am
  #24  
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
"As far as you expecting to pay only for the room--well, when the wallpaper is torn, the towels are missing, the TV glass has a crack in it, or even if it's as simple as you want to stay another night, isn't it only fair that the hotel expects you to pay for those things? Those are the things that extra $250 security hold is to cover. If the hotel charges you for that damage and you then dispute those charges on the grounds you were only told you'd have to pay what you paid Priceline, the merchant is simply covering his you-know-what with that form that he can produce to the credit card issuer when they demand to see proof the customer authorized those charges."
Can you please use the quote function on FlyerTalk? It makes it difficult to separate your response without it.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
Fair that I pay for that stuff? Depends.

If I am already back in my home country and I get a bill for 3 missing towels I am going to raise holy heck. If they claim that the TV is now broke and I am the one responsible I am going to raise holy heck.
If the hotel is billing you three weeks or three months later, then that is an issue. But even if the hotel catches the damage during the daily servicing of the room, by the time it's reported to management and sent to accounting, even if they get that done the same day you check out, you're long gone. Doesn't matter whether it's three hours or three days later--the situation is still the same: you did it; you owe the money.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
Because I do not steal towels nor break TV's. Did not do so when I traveled on the companies dime do not do it now that I use PL. But except for my CC folks backing me up what recourse do I have?
Did I say you did? No. But there are people out there who will. (bhatnasx testified it is a real issue and does happen.) There are people who steal cars from rental car companies, too.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
If I trash a room then arrest me on the spot if I do not pay. Otherwise turn it into your insurance. Because its just as likely that the maid or a previous guest did whatever you want to now charge me for.
Hard to arrest you on the spot if you're 50 or 500 miles away from the property by the time they find out.

And I highly doubt a hotel carries insurance on a TV set. Many may very well be self-insured for this type of room damage. Rental car companies self-insure their fleets, so they can't just "turn it into [their] insurance" when a risky customer steals a car. I'd imagine hotels operate similarly.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
I do understand how someone who spent a career in an industry will see the industries side of things. Just as I a traveler see the travelers side of things. Just human nature.

But "slezball customers" says a lot to me. It reminds me of the people I saw that worked to long in public health clinics that came to see their customers or clients as the enemy. Not all of those PH workers for sure. But far to many.
Did I say all customers were "slezball" (sic) customers? No. Far from it. The vast majority are respectable, upstanding citizens who would never intentionally do something to hurt the property and, if something happened on accident, would own up to it and pay for any issues without dispute.

But the hotel and rental car industries are in a sector of the retail industry that deals with an element of risk. Your grocery store does not have risk when you buy milk. Your favorite restaurant does not have risk when you sit down for dinner. Your preferred department store does not have risk when you buy a shirt or shoes. Before you walk out of the door, you pay for the item in full. If payment is an issue, the store simply takes back the item you were attempting to purchase--done deal.

But with a hotel room or rental car, the retailer is effectively loaning a valuable asset out to you. (In the case of a rental car, you can walk out the door with an asset that's over a hundred times as valuable as your security deposit.) This forces these retailers to sometimes have to act more as loan officers than customer service providers. You wouldn't go into a bank and then yell at the loan officer that he or she is being unreasonable with asking you to sign a form or provide proof that you are good for the loan. And if a particular subset of a bank's customers--say, those with a bad credit history--are inherently riskier, it is perfectly within the bank's right to require additional things from them before letting them walk out the door with thousands of dollars of the bank's money.

When risk is involved, it is fair to take steps to minimize exposure to that risk. But to keep this on-topic, that's not what we're talking about in this thread. The OP's question was not whether hotels have a right to collect on damages but rather whether Priceline customers fit in that category of riskier customers.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
And as far as extending another night while on a PL reservation? Cannot be done. You either bid again and win. Or you take out a new reservation from the hotel while you are there and pay in full for it.
Sorry; I've never tried to do this on a PL reservation, so I did not realize this. It does not negate my point, however.

Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
I for one think the CC company backing me up against hotels that want to bill me for products I never bought or damage I never did to be one of the really great reasons to use a CC.

Good for them for doing their job.
I'm all for charges being billed fairly. If you didn't break the TV or steal towels, then, frankly, I don't even know what you're getting so worked up about. You should not be charged for any such thing, and if you do, it's perfectly within your rights to not have to pay. And this issue (misbilled charges) was not brought up in this thread, either.

But too often, I've seen someone who is very clearly in the wrong and very clearly should pay for whatever charges he's being charged for escape on a technicality because the merchant did not make it clear enough that he was responsible for those items or because of a bad signature or missed set of initials. That's all the hotel mentioned in this thread is trying to do, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with what he's doing. The only question is whether it is fair to apply that extra step specifically to Priceline members, something that I can definitely see could be the case, although we really need data to back that assertion up.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 10:37 am
  #25  
 
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"If you didn't break the TV or steal towels, then, frankly, I don't even know what you're getting so worked up about. You should not be charged for any such thing,"

*********************************************

Trust me if I knew how to quote only a part of your response I would do so.

I just do not see how we can have this both ways. I stay on a PL stay and the hotel bills me for 3 expensive towels which they add to my cc I gave them on check in. Its their word against mine.

They claim a daily breakfast x 7 of which I ate only one. They add those charges for that to my CC. Its their word against mine.

Except I have AMEX or Visa ready to fight for me.

So unless that is exactly my signature authorizing those breakfast charges I will not pay. And I do not see that as some minor technicality that the signature is smuged or a little messy, or coffee stained.

That messy or missing signature becomes the difference between me paying for something I did not order while being at the mercy of a hotel chain that has already billed my cc and not paying at all.

The 3 missing towels? Thats just too bad. I will not pay for those. They can just deal with that as part of the cost of doing business. Self insurance or insurance company. I could care less. Just not me.

You seem to make a big distinction between charges I should pay and those I should not. When the hotel bills me they only see it as charges I should pay.

Me saying I am an honest person despite being a lowly unwanted PL customer you think will carry a lot of weight?

If the hotel needs a clearly readable unsumgged non coffee stained signature on my charges they better get it.

Otherwise they can talk to my CC company.

Doc
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Old Mar 1, 10, 10:44 am
  #26  
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
Trust me if I knew how to quote only a part of your response I would do so.
Click the "Quote" button in the lower-right corner of the post you want to reply to. In the resulting screen that displays, the quote will be inside quote tags that look like this:

PHP Code:
[QUOTE=ReconDoc;13487547]A bunch of text[/QUOTE
Edit out what you don't want, making sure to leave the QUOTE and /QUOTE tags and the brackets on either side of those tags (i.e. [ and ]) intact.

As to the rest of your post, we're talking on two different wavelengths about two different issues. Since I've said everything I can in response to your challenges (which, I'll note, are separate from the question posed by the original poster), I'll leave it for the rest of the FT community reading this post to make their own judgments about our discussion and to continue the topic as originally introduced.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 1:30 pm
  #27  
 
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The takeaway: In the hotel and rent-a-car businesses, because the thing being rented is so valuable compared to the rental fee, hotels and RACs risk having their rooms/cars damaged/dinged/beer spilled in them. Conversely, guests of hotels, and auto renters, risk bogus charges on their CC bill. Both camps have stories to tell. But no one here has offered even anecdotal evidence that people who purchase lodging or travel through PL are more likely to damage property than are users of other distribution channels.

Priceline only requires $100 hotel deposit by credit or debit card, or $200 for cars. Some RACs require you to show a return ticket to use a debit card. Hotels have the right to not accept debit cards for incidentals, but I have never heard of this happening. Usually the hotel just charges the amount of the incidental deposit to the debit card and refunds it later.

Priceline hotels are not allowed to charge or authorize a $250 deposit to ensure against beer-keg-blasts or non-smoking-room smokers.

And as far as extending another night while on a PL reservation? Cannot be done.
Bzzt! You can often extend your Priceline stay, at the same price, and usually an extension can be requested until 11:30 AM the day of your scheduled departure.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
Because I do not steal towels nor break TV's. Did not do so when I traveled on the companies dime do not do it now that I use PL.
You sound like a good Priceline customer, ReconDoc, but you're not who this thread is talking about. The first post is about a hotel manager who complained about Priceline guests trashing rooms, stealing TVs, and smoking in nonsmoking rooms. And actual damages couldn't be recovered due to credit card trickery.

Even if room trashing and TV stealing are very low frequency events, and probably they are, they can involve large loss amounts, so hotel managers have to remain vigilant to the possibilities. The Priceline system, like all systems, has its vulnerabilities and there are always a few people who will try to exploit if they can.

If Priceline and Hotwire customers have a reputation among hotel staff for being difficult or demanding I think it's not so much about trashing and stealing, but more because PL/HW guests probably do make more requests than others, and PL/HW guests actually are dissatisfied more often than other guests because they have to be told "no" more often.

A guest who books at retail, whether through the hotel or another agent, will reserve his preferences---smoking/nonsmoking, 1 bed/2 bed. If the hotel is sold out on his preferences he'll book someplace else. Same thing with walkin customers.

It's only the Priceline and Hotwire customers who don't know if they'll be getting smoking or nonsmoking, 1 bed or 2. They have to negotiate it face to face with the reservation agent at checkin, and they might not get what they want, even if they called in ahead and asked that their preferences be noted. Sometimes the agent has to give a smoking room, or charge extra for a second bed, and if a customer doesn't understand the charges or thinks it's unfair the exchanges can get heated.

I think these little struggles with PL/HW customers over room placement/bedding are a pretty common event, maybe an every day event at some hotels, much more than the room trashing/stolen TV scenarios. And probably they happen with Priceline customers more than Hotwire customers (since you can reserve 2 beds on Hotwire), or Orbitz/Expedia/Travelocity customers, since those can reserve smoking and bed preferences too.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 2:33 pm
  #29  
 
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mbstone, you are correct you can extend through PL before you get to the hotel. But you cannot extend at the hotel once you are staying there. And some people do try and then get upset the hotel offers them the hotel rate and not the PL rate.

But for the hotel this just looks like any two prepaid reservations. No additional money at all due the hotel for this.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 2:44 pm
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Colfax I do try

And it funny you mention this. Because I follow only one city in any depth as far as PL----Amsterdam. And I do a lot of walking people through PL bidding over on TA.

And I am so happy with the decisions that NH (the biggest player at 4* by far) has made relative to PL NYOP as far as their hotels that I bend over backwards to be a good guest. Better even than when I was paying full price on the companies dime.

I even go out of my way to buy one or two of those $28 -$30 dollar breakfasts each week I stay there as a small way of giving back to them.

We have saved a lot of people a ton of money the past 13 or 14 months via PL bidding. And so far it seems to have worked well for our members and for the hotels.

Doc
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