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Chipping away at your clients – Bad idea

During our stay in Missoula for the granddaughter’s arrival, we had the pleasure of spending the night at the Missoula Comfort Inn.

When I arrived at the front desk to get a receipt for the visit, the bill came with the now-obligatory $1.75 charge for using the safe in the room.

The buck seventy five isn’t the point.

It’s the annoyance of constantly having to be vigilant so that you aren’t the one getting taken by the corporate hotel chain management group who thinks that slipping this little charge (or some other little fee) by the majority of their clients is going to  make their profit numbers.

And maybe it will, but it’s a bad idea.

Yes, I’m well aware that you know that most people are too timid to say anything about it. Heaven forbid that we get pissy about a 1.75 fee on the bill. It might make us look cheap or chintzy to the desk clerk.

It’s not just the timid.

It’s the busy or inattentive clients who don’t notice it.

It’s the express checkout clients who never see the receipt.

Your defense is limp. It really makes no difference that you notify us at the front desk (via a sign) that you will charge $1.75 per night and that it can be removed by asking at the front desk. This is particularly so since it is automated and can only be removed at checkout, NOT at check in time.

The point is that chipping away at your clientele with sneaky little charges like this – particularly for services that they rarely use – is a bad idea and leaves your clients with a bad taste in their mouths about your business.

Is that what you really want?

If that extra $1.75 is necessary for your business to reach the necessary profit margin to pay the front desk staff minimum wage, then just do it. Add it to the room fee. These days you could call it a fuel charge. At least that is believable, when it floats with the cost of fuel.

Do you really think your guests are going to choose another motel because you charge $125.75 instead of $124?

Answer: Only if you do it by Post-It noting it onto the bill at the end.

Not only do you waste your guests’ time by forcing this little “please remove it from the bill” exercise, but you also slow down the checkout process and waste your employees time.

You aren’t tricking anyone. You’re just ticking them off.

Your little $1.75 fee – and really not even the fee, but the act of how you tried to get it, regardless of how common this technique may be – is the one tiny little negative aspect of a trip to Missoula to meet my first grandchild.

Just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

2 replies on “Chipping away at your clients – Bad idea”

So, how do you REALLY feel?…Sounds like the hotel industry and the airline industry are one in the same, these days, with their nickle and dime add-on charges. Coming soon, a $1 per day charge for the “complimentary” USA Today. I will look for a similar “safe wear and tear” charge on my Comfort Inn bill as I head south for a family gathering this weekend…

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