Hotels, It's Time To Follow The Airlines

Booking a lot of hotels this year has brought up a frustration for me that wasn’t something that was all that noticeable before. When trying to price a hotel, most chains, including my beloved Starwood, don’t actually display the price you’ll pay. So when attempting to figure out exactly what you’re going to pay can be a bit of a headache. In this case, it’s time that the hotels start following the example set by airlines.

Have you booked any hotels lately? Since I book a lot through Starwood, I’ll take them as an example. For my trip to Beijing, China there are many Starwood options to stay at.

As you can see the rate for a prepaid room at the St Regis is 1,280 Yen, or roughly $195/night. The devil is always in the details though.

When you go to reserve the room, there is a 15% fee tacked on to your room, adding another 192 Yen or $30/night to the rate. While this may not be a huge amount of money, for long stays it can add up fast. Depending on where you are going, the fees can get steep very fast. South Korea was one of those cases where there were multiple fees added onto the room rate.

This is not an argument against taxes, or fees or whatever else is added on by different localities and different countries. This is an argument for being transparent about your pricing. Something that airlines like American have become quite good at doing.

When booking a flight with American Airlines, the price is displayed for the full ticket. Once you have selected your flight, the total you were shown right from the start is shown off to the side.

If you look into the fees and taxes segment, it shows that this price already includes all of the taxes. There are no additional costs added on after you have selected your flight.

While it does feel a bit odd holding an airline up as a good example of how to do things, it is none the less true in this case. The hotel industry could learn a valuable lesson here. People want you to be straight with them, not hide charges until after you select the room. Be upfront with the cost, that is the way things should be handled.