A couple of posts ago I described the latest hotel industry scam, the variable rate. In this bewilderingly anti-customer cash-grab, you get a rate for your first night’s stay, but you never know what your rate will be for subsequent nights because it depends on the demand for rooms in the city on each of those subsequent nights. So, if you get a rate of $150 for your first night, and then the Shriners have their convention in the city the next day, filling up every hotel room, your rate will likely skyrocket.

When I complained about this to the sales and marketing manager at the Holiday Inn where I was recently victimized by this bizarre practice, she explained that my association had endorsed the practice because it was shown to save its members money over the long term.

Being in the anti-bullshit business professionally, I called my association and spoke to the person in charge of hotel programs. He explained that in their last “negotiation” with IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group), the owners of Holiday Inn and many other large hotels, the association was told: “We are the world’s largest hotel group, this is our policy (variable rates), and you can either take it (a discount on the variable rate), or take a walk”. So much for negotiation.

The gentleman on the phone confirmed that he had received many complaints from members, but that in effect, his hands were tied. I suggested that in the next round of negotiations, he should in fact take the walk and send the 50,000 members to other hotels who don’t have such a policy.

This is like a virus. You can be sure other hotels are looking for it to succeed or fail. If it succeeds, it won’t be long before every hotel does the same thing.

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