Can’t get a break – Guests with new fees but hoteliers with new revenue. What a tempest!
Imagine our guests, who 'book' with a certain price in mind and are shaken at check-out with a history of unexpected fees on the portfolio. You might as well have coin-operated elevators, an E-Z Pass to the bathrooms and tolls to get to stores off your public spaces.
Don’t even start with the usage charges in my guest room. Next technology iteration – your room key card, much like a TV remote, will tally charges electronically at anything you decide to use. I’ll take a soda from the mini-bar – CLICK (add an administrative charge of 18% to replenish the fridge) ; Room Service Hamburger, Item #4 – CLICK; a CNN update –(a surcharge of 3 cents for your favorite channel) – CLICK; a visit by Sally of Antoine’s Escorts – CLICK; massage option on my mattress – CLICK; and delay my departure until 3:00 pm - CLICK. Note that some of the charges are real; most are not! What an experience, almost near death – the final CLICK. Each aspect of my stay, quantified, costed-out and charged. What happened to Hospitality? And we complain about airline travel?
You cannot beat that new revenue stream from fees and surcharges - some $2.25 billion for add-ons, as reported in the Boston Globe on August 25, 2014. Hotel operations actually started the trend with resort properties and that all inclusive “resort fee”, which covered everything from gym access, pools and tennis courts and more. Guests were there for at least several days for R & R, so the fees were not as grinding as they are nowadays at practically every hotel. The airlines and car rental companies took up the concept with flair. The consumer was flogged with extra charges within their travel plans. These companies really had control of the market, particularly after all the mergers. Consumers had little choice – they had to fly, and they needed to rent cars. So, our guests arrive at our hotel doors – pushed, prodded, rushed and beaten. What do we do? We hit them with surcharges galore, as they try to rejuvenate.
This might be where hotels will lose their loyalty attributes, for there is choice out there. If the consumer feels they are being bested, they will go elsewhere. And, they will tell their friends about the experience. For hotels, thick skins will probably prevail, for the revenue from these surcharges is simply too attractive. Many guests do not review and dissect those portfolios; complaints are still very minor in volume. The attitude might be “so I lose a guest or two”, but there is a double edged sword here. The money men and accountants may have won again but at the expense of Hospitality. What a shame! Time to choose sides.
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog, focusing on anything and everything about customer experience. LRA Worldwide is the leading global provider of Customer Experience Measurement services for multinational companies with complex customer interactions. For over 30 years, LRA’s innovative brand standards audits, quality assurance inspections, mystery shopping programs, research, and consulting services have helped ensure our clients deliver consistent, memorable, and differentiated experiences to their customers. Many of the world's preeminent global hospitality brands, as well as companies in the gaming, dining, healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, retail and travel industries choose LRA to help them measure and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit www.LRAWorldwide.com.
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