Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is it OK to reserve hotel rooms and resell them as a business?

We won’t let you do it with ours, because we have no control over who you re-sell them to, and it becomes a security issue.

We have a company policy on “warehousing”: a room may only be rented to the actual guest, who will actually occupy it. It’s my only assurance that you’re not hiding Tad Cummins and his 15-year-old companion in there.

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There are several online travel agencies to whom we make available a certain quantity of rooms, but they don’t actually reserve the rooms until they have a buyer — who, immediately upon their referral of that reservation to us, is subject to the same scrutiny as any other customer seeking to register as a guest. We have their full information. We’re not running a movie theatre or a football stadium, no one reserves rooms and, on the arrival date, shows up with a ticket entitling them to that room.

Hotels are required by law to provide “suitable accommodations’ to all who it accepts as guest, but you’re not a guest — and we haven’t “accepted” you as one — until you show up and register and we give you a key. Making a reservation does not in itself constitute acceptance of you as a guest, because you’re not present at the hotel. There’s no legally enforceable contract because you have not paid us and the essential element of consideration is missing. And any agreement for pre-payment (or any other reservation) is always going to provide that the reservation is cancellable — for us, even if the terms of it provide that it’s non-cancellable by you. That’s my protection against coming in one morning and discovering I’ve got a bunch of rooms reserved by a bunch of people named Phelps, or Roper, from Topeka, Kansas, whose arrival in town will coincide with a military funeral or some event that’s of interest to the LGBT community — or of having to take them; to check them in on the big day and allow them to stage their pickets in the community from my hotel; if I ever do find such a situation in place.

You’re not going to make any money on this scheme (unless you can get some really stupid hotel management to agree to it, and there is lots of that out there, so you never know . . .). Our revenue management isn’t that bad, even for major, high-demand events.

Travel agents? . . . Many are called, few are chosen. Everybody wants to be the middleman. Bring me something I cannot find a way to get on my own, and maybe we can talk. But if you just want to insert yourself as a middleman on what I’m already able to reach, and take a cut . . . we always look for ways to cut out the middleman. One way that works like a dandy is, don’t let them insert themselves to begin with.

The “hospitality industry” is full of middlemen — franchise organizations, travel agents, purchasing agents, sales and marketing wannabees, someone looking to collect a commission on something . . . they’re a real drain. Some hotel companies suck it up as the cost of doing business: we apply a little imagination to finding ways to work around them. Stop feeding them, and they’ll stave to death, and then we won’t have to feed them anymore and they won’t be such a drain.

Originally appeared on Quora

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