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Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Old Feb 20, 10, 7:44 pm
  #1  
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Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

I recently checked into a 2.5* hotel which asked me to sign a "yes, you may authorize my card for $250, and if you kick me out because of noise, you'll charge me $250 for the privilege" statement.

I've seen this before, but what stuck out was the general manager's statement that he only does this to priceline (and maybe hotwire) guests. He explained that he's had problems with priceline guests trashing rooms: smoking in non-smokng rooms, stealing TVs, etc. He said that some priceline guests were using prepaid credit cards for the bookings which then were useless when the hotel needed to recoup some damage cost.

So as someone who's been using priceline to great benefit lately and doesn't trash rooms: how do we keep this reputation at bay? Any hints as to what might be going on?

(One idea: this property is part of chain that typically shows up on priceline at the 3* level; I'm wondering if he's getting more riff-raff at 2.5 and should be trying to fix that rating.)
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Old Feb 20, 10, 9:52 pm
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Originally Posted by rmbl View Post
I recently checked into a 2.5* hotel which asked me to sign a "yes, you may authorize my card for $250, and if you kick me out because of noise, you'll charge me $250 for the privilege" statement.
Was that actually what the statement said, word for word? If so, I would report the incident to Priceline. It seems a little over the top to do this for only a Priceline reservation because as you probably know hotels run your credit card to cover incidentals now matter what your room rate or channel you booked through. If this property is imposing higher restrictions just for Priceline guests, then perhaps they need to review the contract they signed with PL. Part of the contract for hotels to participate with Priceline includes wording that they are not to discriminate, but rather give them "equal or better" treatment than any other guest. Part of all this is to ensure the guest has a positive experience which translates into the hotel "branding" the customer for a repeat visit by booking direct with them.

Although I've personally only experienced Priceline "attitude" maybe 1% of the time, if/when I ever do again, I will be quick to remind them of their contracted committment to Priceline, not to mention that the hotel itself decides the rate they will sell rooms for, not Priceline. Also, nobody is putting a gun to a hotel to sell rooms via Priceline. They sell the rooms at the price they dictate and they do so voluntarily.
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Old Feb 22, 10, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by BEAV View Post
Was that actually what the statement said, word for word? If so, I would report the incident to Priceline.
No, but it's the substance. I imagine that reporting the hotel to priceline would just give the manager another reason to dislike priceline bookings (and guests), so I'm still inclined to help him try to fix the underlying problem, if there is one. I'm doubting his theory about the link between priceline guests and damage (confirmation bias, anyone?), but I figured I'd ask for others' experiences and expertise...
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Old Feb 22, 10, 6:59 pm
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It's reasonable & appropriate for the desk to ask for a credit card to cover incidentals, since they don't have your info. But the wording you describe is outrageous. PL users are already subject to abuse from some hotels. I've been in quite a few rooms through PL that are probably hard to sell otherwise - small, by the ice machine or elevator, no window, etc. But I'm not aware of reports that PL users are unruly. I think you just got a dumb hotelier.
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Old Feb 22, 10, 7:05 pm
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Re: the 2.5* vs 3*. I can't believe that's it. I often prefer 2.5* over 3*, particularly in some cities. 2.5* PL includes things like Hilton Garden Inns, Residence Inn, and others that have in-room kitchens, free breakfast, free internet, free parking, etc.
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Old Feb 22, 10, 7:05 pm
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"a dumb hotelier"

More likely a cranky out of sorts one. Chronic or acute is anyone's guess.

Its a BS story. Not the original post. But what the manager said. Pure and total BS as far as PL guests being a major problem for hotels.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by deubster View Post
2.5* PL includes things like Hilton Garden Inns, Residence Inn, and others that have in-room kitchens, free breakfast, free internet, free parking, etc.
It can also include Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges, Days Inns, etc. 2.5* is a mighty big tent. The only times I've encountered the "Priceline Attitude" at a front desk is at these lesser, sketchier properties which are inclined to regard ALL their guests as potential enemies / trouble anyway. (At 4* and 5* properties I've been booked into a lowly room now and then, of course, but always with courtesy.)

As others have pointed out the hotel mentioned by the OP is explicitly violating PL terms of service and can have its PL affiliation blown up as a result.
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Old Feb 26, 10, 11:19 am
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Last month I won a 3* on Priceline that had never been reported to the bidding boards before. The hotel manager checked me in and I mentioned to him that I stay in the zone regularly, usually via Priceline, and that I'd never won his hotel before. He told me the hotel just started using Priceline two weeks ago.

I asked him how Priceline was working out for them. He said "We're getting a lot of business but we're getting some problem customers too". I didn't probe for details.

My winning 3* bid was $35. The Motel 6 up the street was $49.95. When you can get an almost new Hyatt Place, Courtyard, or Hilton Garden Inn on Priceline for less than the walkup rate at Motel 6 or Super 8 then word gets around, especially if the low rate is available for extended stays, and your hotel will attract some of the "cheapest place in town" crowd and the problems that can go with.

In LA and San Diego, and probably other cities, there are zones where you can live in Priceline hotels for less than a decent apartment costs, with no security deposit, utility or cable bills, and maybe free breakfast. Sometimes I see families of 6 or 7 staying in one suite at a Residence Inn and I wonder to myself if they're not there courtesy of Priceline.
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Old Feb 26, 10, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Colfax View Post
My winning 3* bid was $35. The Motel 6 up the street was $49.95. When you can get an almost new Hyatt Place, Courtyard, or Hilton Garden Inn on Priceline for less than the walkup rate at Motel 6 or Super 8 then word gets around, especially if the low rate is available for extended stays, and your hotel will attract some of the "cheapest place in town" crowd and the problems that can go with.

In LA and San Diego, and probably other cities, there are zones where you can live in Priceline hotels for less than a decent apartment costs, with no security deposit, utility or cable bills, and maybe free breakfast. Sometimes I see families of 6 or 7 staying in one suite at a Residence Inn and I wonder to myself if they're not there courtesy of Priceline.
Sssh! Don't tell anybody! Actually the person checking in next to you at the Hilton Garden Inn is paying $230, they have no clue that anybody could possibly book a room there for less than $230, or that there is any way to buy hotel rooms other than asking "how much," and if you tell people they could have paid $42 they will just become angry with you.

PL is way better than apartment rentals in many situations and I guess it was inevitable that people would find out.
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Old Feb 27, 10, 8:01 am
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"Sometimes I see families of 6 or 7 staying in one suite at a Residence Inn and I wonder to myself if they're not there courtesy of Priceline."

Famlies sometimes end up in hotels because of the goodness of the state. Sometimes because they have a cc and just pay the going rate.

Spend enough time on biddingfor, FT, TA, Betterbidding, etc and you start to think that the whole world must be bidding.

Not so IME.

I am still amazed at the seasoned travelers who have never used PL. And how many that do have never heard of any of those aformentioned bidding or travel sites.

For a random family needing a place to stay because they have no home.....not all that likely I think.
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Old Feb 27, 10, 11:29 am
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Back to the OP's question, I think it is going to have to be a PL initiative to seek out and eliminate hotels that treat PL guests differently.

I stayed at a downtown hotel on Easter Sunday night a couple of years ago on a PL res. Easter is one of the slowest days of the year for hotels, and I would bet that the place I stayed had maybe 25 of their 250+ rooms occupied. They still stuck me at the end of a long, long corridor, obviously one of the rooms they use for PL customers. No big deal in a 4* but it's this kind of attitude that makes me hesitate to go for 2.5 or 3* places.

I would use PL more if this stuff didn't happen, and it's in their interest to wipe off the smudge.
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Old Feb 27, 10, 1:14 pm
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Back some years ago the Park Hotel in Amsterdam got a lot of PL action. Maybe as much or more than any other 4 star at the time.

But they had a new wing and a bad old wing. The old wing rooms were smelly and damp. And hot in the summer.

And boy did PL guests complain on line. But they must also have complained to PL.

Its now been five years or more I am guessing since I have seen the Park come up as a PL win.

I do believe that PL laid the big hammer on them for their shoddy treatment of PL guests.

As they should have.

In my own experience I have never gotten a sub par room nor been treated like a 2nd rate guest. In fact I was upgraded my last two AMS PL stays. NH hotels they were.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 3:00 am
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Originally Posted by rmbl View Post
I'm doubting his theory about the link between priceline guests and damage (confirmation bias, anyone?), but I figured I'd ask for others' experiences and expertise...
As my company does not do business with Priceline (other than via their standard GDS booking engine), I can't confirm your link, but knowing what people are like, I would actually tend to believe the hotelier's side of the story.

Most people not in the retail/travel sector have no idea just how shady many people are--especially those that try to get around the system by using prepaid cards or even debit cards. There is a reason those cards come with heavy restrictions in the hospitality/rental sectors (if they're even accepted at all)--they represent an extreme risk for the vendor.

If I were to guess, I would guess this hotel authorizes all customers' cards for the same $250, so they really are not treating PL customers any differently than direct retail bookings. However, it would not surprise me if PL guests had a higher chargeback rate due to them disputing additional charges when problems did happen. The fact that the booking channel is opaque may make it slightly more difficult for the merchant to defend against a chargeback, so the merchant likely has them sign the paper just for a little extra defense. (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.)
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Old Feb 28, 10, 7:53 am
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"(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.
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Old Feb 28, 10, 11:12 am
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I think part of the problem is that you have 3* hotels offering $35 PL rates. If they're doing that, then they're getting a $35 customer. The $35 PL customer is often times more demanding than the biz travelers and often times more apt to trash a room. I can completely understand why hoteliers don't like the PL customer, but it's their fault for willing to take such low rated business.
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