Saturday, October 28, 2017

Would you recommend using to book a hotel room? Why or why not?

Never. Call the hotel directly and you can get a better deal.

Online travel agencies charge a commission of 20–25% of the amount you pay. So if you call me, I’d give you a better rate, and still come out better than the net payable to the hotel if you were to call them.

Or call any hotel and do the same trick. AAA and AARP are not ‘publicly available rates’, and while you should be a member, many hotels don’t question it if you ask for them. That gets you ten percent off what you’d pay on most OTA sites, unless they’re handing out deep discounts like candy.

If the hotel agreed to one of those, they deserve exactly what they get.

Originally appeared on Quora

I've heard that hotel staff deliberately disable the keycards of guests they dislike. Can anyone confirm this, or tell of other things hospitality staff do to get back at badly behaved patrons?

Just a little thought at all should tell you that this story is not credible.

If I took a dislike to a guest, the last thing I would want to do is disable his key card, unless there was some business or security related reason I had to, because you know exactly what's going to happen: the guy's not going to be able to get into his room, and he's going to be at the desk, in your face, complaining, and you've got to put up with him, for at least long enough to fix his card.

The same goes for any other juvenile pranks that you might want to do to a guest to get paybacks or make his life miserable. Never mind the guest is unhappy (which is always a very large concern with us), but any employee who enjoys the kind of confrontation that would result from something like that is too sick to have a job.Even if you feel that it's justified in some way, it just doesn't work.

And that's before we even go there about the consequences if the guest complaints to management . . . or even worse, to the franchise organization (who will often comp the room and give him a full refund and a bunch of free coupons to make him feel better about the whole thing, just for showing up and complaining, then bill it all back to your hotel, and you're going to have a very unhappy general manager) . . or the health department.

Why is tourism in Antarctica so expensive? Why don't they expand the tourist industry and decrease the prices?

Find me enough people who want to travel there and spend a few days to keep a 60-to-80 room hotel about 60 to 80% full on a daily basis at $1000–1500 per night (there'd be a lot of logistical factors to think about including snow removal, heat and electricity; none of which will be as attainable or as easy as it would be in a less desolate place with at least some infrastructure; before we even go there about vastly increased construction costs, so I'm not confident we could get the rates down even that low. . .); and perhaps we'll give a little more thought to putting a hotel there.

Until then, we're not making any big plans to go there for the same reason we don't want to build a hotel in Hell, or in some ISIS-controlled area of Syria, or in some small warlord-controlled town in Somalia or drug cartel-controlled village in Honduras, or in the middle of the Sahara Desert . . . because nobody wants to go there and there's no market for it.

Accordingly, anyone who does have a reason to go down there and spend a few days has to be able to bear the entire cost of what is required for them to stay (or survive) there . . .

Originally appeared on Quora

Being a skilled writer, what is the best approach to solicit free stays at the finest bed and breakfasts or resorts in exchange for a detailed and thorough 5-star review of said places?

You're on your own with this one: work it out however you can work it out, with whatever B&B owner.

It may sound like I'm being unhelpful (depending upon what you had in mind, maybe I am — frankly, I’m a little skeptical of your intentions), but I'll help you with this much: hotels get no end of requests such as this (involving either cash payment or comp rooms) from both vendors and from people who think they can provide some 'service' to the hotel having “public relations” value that would have people flocking to us. A hotel manager might probably view even a potentially workable scheme skeptically and with some cynicism.

One of the most annoying things about the “hospitality industry” for people working in it is that everyone has an idea that’ll make a million bucks — so long as it’s someone else’s million bucks. As a matter of policy, we don’t publish our fax numbers, and give them out at all only very selectively; because every month, a tree dies to make enough paper to print out the junk advertising faxes that show up (cheap linens and terry, used furniture, directory listings in hotel directories that no one’s ever heard of, used furniture, secret 5-star review formulae, Nigerian fraud schemes, etc.) at hotels that do. I’ve been able to put up with having the same e-mail address for the last ten years only because I use anti-spam and Gmail filters religiously. And it’s hard for me to be polite to salespeople who call me two or three times a month at random times (usually interrupting something I’m doing) just to “touch base”.

Balancing profitability with good taste and media impact, what would you do with Mandalay Bay room 135 floor 32 if managing the hotel were your job?

That room probably no longer exists, as of right now.

Once investigators no longer need to preserve it as a crime scene, and they turn it back over to the hotel management, the knocked-out curtain wall windows would be repaired, and that room -- actually a suite with a conventional room connecting -- would be permanently removed from the room inventory of the hotel, and that space would be completely repurposed.

File storage space is a possibility — and for the near future, if that space is used at all, the most likely one. Provided that it's strictly back office space where no visitors doing business with the hotel would be asked to enter, sales department or comptroller space is also a possibility. Security department use is a possibility.

Whatever its eventual use, it's going to be strictly back office or corporate space for MGM Resorts International (which owns Mandalay Bay and several other casino hotels, and can probably find some corporate use for the space not directly related to the operation of the Mandalay Bay itself), and the doorways leading into it from the corridor will be painted over to make the entrance as nondescript and unnoticeable as possible, much the same way as the door from the corridor to a utility closet or housekeeping area would be.

And the space would probably stand empty for a year or two before even staff would be comfortable being assigned workspace in it. Would you be comfortable having yourdesk moved to that spot?

That space certainly has no future as a guest room. I can't imagine anyone ever wanting to be registered into it as a guest (actually, yes I can, but only the sick kind of person you wouldn't want in the hotel, period), and I don't think a permanent monument would be viable.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see that entire 32nd floor corridor sealed off for a couple of years, until the disturbance has passed somewhat, and memories start to fade. And when it reopened, I would expect to see all of the rooms on that floor having been totally gutted and renovated, and looking very different from the way they do now.

How much can it cost to make a hotel that is adapted for people with disabilities, or to convert a hotel to suit people with disabilities (estimation)?

For a newly-built class A select service property, the going rate is about $10 million, give or take.

How can I give you a figure off the top of my head like that? It's because every new hotel is required to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are very few people who are able to travel at all, who cannot be accommodated, somehow, in any hotel built to current codes. And if one of those people calls ahead, we'll think of something.

Is every room in a hotel built to current codes fully accessible to people with disabilities? No. There's just not the demand. You would incur vastly increased construction and furnishings costs per room if you made every room in the hotel fully accessible, and for most people who show up, a standard hotel room is quite adequate.

What is the possibility that the hotel security guard, hotel management, police officers, and SWAT team members were all telling the truth, yet there is such a dispute in timeline?

Not surprising at all. Ask any lawyer in a situation where a car accident occurs on a crowded street, and there aren't but two witnesses who actually saw it and can be contacted and questioned. Odds are, one's going to swear the light was red and the other's going to swear the light was green, each will be as honest as the day is long and speaking in absolutely good faith, each will be describing it exactly as he or she remembers it, and that's about size of it. It's just the way of the world. Only one thing can be the truth, yet each witness is being absolutely truthful -- about his or her recollection of it, not necessarily what actually happened.

In the Las Vegas shooting, you had the shooter (who's not saying too much or answering questions right now), a couple of security guards, one or two maintenance guys, some Las Vegas cops, each member of an an entire SWAT team, hotel management, and the front desk staff involved. Each of them will have a unique individual perspective, they will each remember things differently. Each will have been, at the time, observing from a different vantage point in the hotel: some on the 32nd floor, some in the lobby. The only way we could know as close to the whole truth as is relevant is if somebody had been standing right next to the shooter at the time he started shooting, and lived to tell the tale.

But it didn't work out that way, and this investigation is going to be relying very heavily on security video, and reconciling the various individual perspectives and versions of the story.

Does Expedia match commission rates for when you guest pays at hotel? charges a flat 20% commission. Expedia is slightly higher, closer to 24 or 25%, and that varies by property. I think chains negotiate it in a lot of cases.

I don't suspect any collusion between the two, or attempt by either of them to get or keep their commission rates in any way in alignment with those of the other.

I've heard of the existence of some GDS channels who in negotiating with a hotel, will tell them, we want, say, $2,000 in commissions per year guaranteed, and paid to us up front before we even list your property. I've never had one try it with me, but the first time it happens, I'm going to tell somebody to pound sand. I ran a used bookstore and coffee shop years ago, dealt one time with a wholesale vendor that demanded 'minimum orders', quickly discovered Costco; and concluded that only a real wuss, an enabler, a codependent, a cherry having less than reasonable adult human resolve who's probably in at least one other abusive relationship, would even talk to such vendors rather than just hang up on them.

Hotwire operates on a different model altogether that isn't commission-based. They're more like a reseller. You make a certain number of rooms on each night, of various types, available to them at a lowball set price, and they resell them for whatever they can get -- which is usually at a markup -- then turn around and pay you the agreed-upon price as they pass the reservations along to you and the guests show up to check in.

Online travel agencies have been in existence as long as they have, are as lucrative to their stockholders as they are, and get away with what they do in terms of exorbitant commissions; because they discovered revenue management some time before the hotels themselves did. We were attached for far and away too long to assigning a 'shelf price' to our rooms, and too inflexibly sticking to it except for corporate and group rates negotiated by the individual hotel.

Originally appeared on Quora