Hotels have actually made it possible to make their internet experience less appealing than talking to someone on the phone.
In my role as Developer Evangelist, I have to travel from time to time. With this travel comes a budget that isn’t exactly going to have me calling the Four Seasons regularly. My needs usually revolve around these three things:
1) A bed.
2) Wireless internet access
3) Inexpensive rates, but not “cheap hotel.”
Because of this, I am always on the hunt for a good rate. Now, having the name Microsoft behind me certainly helps, and if not that, I can rely on good ol’ AAA. But when talking to the hotel’s website, I never, ever get a rate that I would consider acceptable. For example, I was looking for a hotel in Texas today. The event I was attending had recommended a specific hotel (no names need to be named), and event’s organizers told me that the nightly rate was $84. That’s my perfect price point. On the hotel’s website, even with my AAA discount, the rate came to $109 a night…a little higher than I prefer to pay. So I tried other options. Nothing below $100. Frustrating.
So I called the hotel. I told them when I needed a room, and that I had been told that the rate was $84 a night. The clerk told me that, in fact, the rate was $79. EVEN BETTER! So I’ve got my room, and a story to tell.
My calling the hotel takes up the time of the person working the front desk. That time = money, in most cases, however small that person’s wages are. Alternatively, the website is up and running all the time. 24/7. It doesn’t cost them anything more to have me book my room. Zero. Zilch. Nada. So why is it that all hotels have unified in this practice? I can save 20-40% on my room rate by tying up the person at the front desk on the phone. Continue to reward me for that practice, and I will continue to make your web investment lack in ROI.
But don’t even get me started on how frustrated I get when I’m checking in to a hotel, and the clerk is on the phone…