they think I can't do math...unfortunately I can
June 3, 2010 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Is it common practice for a small boutique hotel (a dozen rooms + a couple of penthouses) to charge you a HIGHER rate for booking all of their rooms? Their argument is that we're making it hard for them to ensure that all rooms are booked to maximum capacity for the nights immediately before and after the block of nights that I want to book.

They are quoting an additional 15% -- is this reasonable? Seems ridiculous to me...don't you usually get a volume discount instead of a volume surcharge??
posted by randomstriker to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
well, their reasoning is sound. they will be unable to get maximum capacity probably on the nights before and after.

i would find a different place to stay, though - that should be a cost they just eat.
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems perfectly reasonable to me. It sounds like they are a place that is usually booked at 85%. To meet your needs, they would have to cut down their booking before and after your arrival, to guarantee you the rooms you need, which would bring their overall bookings for the entire period of before-during-and-after you, down to 70%. Your desire will cost them money, they want you to pay for it. If you want a volume discount, go to someone who has a volume of rooms they can't let out.
posted by nomisxid at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2010

Stuff like that is always negotiable. If you think it's unreasonable, tell them you won't pay it and you're willing to take your business elsewhere.
posted by electroboy at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2010

If you're staying just one night, this seems reasonable. If you're staying three or so, it seems ridiculous. Three nights at 100% and then a couple at 70% is better than 5 at 85%.
posted by Precision at 12:51 PM on June 3, 2010

I'd be tempted to tell them I wasn't interested in the whole place any more and just book a few rooms, then proceed to get my party to book all the other rooms under different names and credit cards.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:55 PM on June 3, 2010

I think it's reasonable and you have to take into account what nights you are booking. There are patterns that come into play. Reserving, for example, Wednesday-Friday night really puts a hurting on their ability to have availability for people looking to book for the whole weekend (Friday-Sunday).
posted by SoulOnIce at 12:55 PM on June 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, but I am more interested in what is "common practice" rather than what's "reasonable". This is business -- I don't really care if it's "fair" to them or not.

Would appreciate informed responses of your real experiences with volume bookings.
posted by randomstriker at 1:04 PM on June 3, 2010

The likelihood that you will cancel before the no-refund date: much, much higher if one group is booking the whole facility.

The likelihood that you will all know each other and so be more likely to make noise, jump between rooms, and cause damage, is much, much higher if one group is booking the whole facility.

The likelihood that the hotel will have to turn away their traditional level of bookings for that day, a certain subset of which is a multi-day stay, is no higher than if the entire hotel were booked by individual, separate people -- but since it isn't, they can offset that loss by charging you an extra fee (which they couldn't do with separate people), and it increases their overall potential profit enough to take on the additional risk posed by the first two things I listed.

So this isn't atypical. In order to avoid it, you'll need to find a hotel that doesn't care about damage and is running below capacity on a regular basis, and who will likely not allow your money to be refunded if you cancel. The more popular the hotel, the less likely you will be to avoid a surcharge, in short.
posted by davejay at 1:14 PM on June 3, 2010

My volume purchasing experience was to get a discount. I did not book the entire hotel, but about 15 rooms out of 25-30. Rather than focus on discount of premium, I focused on a rate I was willing to pay. To me it was not about beating the posted rates and bettering the establishment, but rather what could we afford to pay for what we were getting and could get elsewhere. Choice is key to negotiation.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:15 PM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've never had experiences with booking all the rooms in a boutique hotel. However, I have frequently had cause to book all the rooms in a couple different B&B's, and I have made arrangements to book about half the rooms in a larger hotel (100 rooms total).

I have never had the rates RAISED when booking multiple rooms. I typically haven't gotten a discount when booking all the rooms in a B&B, but I didn't ask for one, so that's been fine by me -- the B&B owners have to eat, after all. I got a substantial (nearly 50%) per-room discount when booking half the hotel, but that was during some of the worst of the recession; I don't know if I could still get that good a discount.

I also think that SoulOnIce is making a good point, though -- every time I've blocked hotel rooms, it has been for a weekend event. I would imagine that hotels need to have policies in place for people making midweek bookings, so that they don't take a huge financial hit for weekend bookings. If you don't like it, talk to the manager. If they can't get rid of the surcharge, cancel your booking and start taking bids -- use something like and play the different local hotels off against each other.
posted by kataclysm at 1:15 PM on June 3, 2010

I got a discount on a large multiple booking, but was told they wouldn't let me book out the whole hotel (as I wanted to). Presumably they had a maximum booking size, to prevent the situation you're talking about.
posted by emilyw at 1:24 PM on June 3, 2010

I have never experienced booking the entirety of a venue but have dealt with room blocks. And when committing to a block there is almost always a few freebie nights thrown my way in exchange.

So I'm another person not telling you whether it's common practice, I'm afraid, but I AM telling you that there is a common practice that's pretty much the exact opposite thing. Perhaps this is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with a smaller venue.

If there are larger venues as an alternative I'd see what their deal would be and use it as a negotiating point with this venue.
posted by phearlez at 1:28 PM on June 3, 2010

My understanding is that it is common practice to offer a discount to bulk orders in the hotel business rather than surcharges. The reasoning I have heard for this is always similar that provided by Precision. I don't know how small of a hotel you are talking about, which may make a huge difference though.
posted by Carillon at 1:31 PM on June 3, 2010

Whenever I've been party to groups that negotiate room blocks--including very large room blocks--there's always been a significant discount from rack rate. In fact it's a discount rate with gradations of how much we fill. And the discounts are extremely significant. But that's customary and ordinary at big chains; it's certainly not a law, and small businesses have different risks than big hotels.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:01 PM on June 3, 2010

We've booked an entire hotel twice for a wedding and each time, we got a discount. This was for a weekend, and was for two nights. Some of the group stayed on either end of those two nights; they payed the regular rate for those nights. The hotel rooms were worth about $200 a night for comparison sake.
posted by barnone at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2010

I don't know if it's standard practice as much as it is an optimization problem for their business model. Larger hotels can better accommodate large groups staying a coupla days because that matches their business model. It's likely you are not in their most valuable customer segment if you are not business travel.

When I was a road warrior I'd book 4-5 day stays, often several weeks at a time (eg four month client contract, one week on and one week off.) If you had all rooms booked for one or two of those days, that hotel would not show up as a match for me and they'd miss my considerably large block of business. And possibly my whole team's since we tried to stay close when we got together. That's a lot of business to lose to accommodate one two-day event.

And I would always choose to stay at a smaller hotel over a larger hotel if possible, all else being equal. Large groups of rowdy conventioneers and busfuls of kids on trips, etc. would make me very grumpy after a 10 hour day at a client site.
posted by cross_impact at 7:41 AM on June 4, 2010

Back when I was a contributing member of society, I managed a private resort for a number of years. I know that we would not have accepted such a reservation for several reasons. First, we had regular visitors who relied on there being their favorite room (let alone any room) being available for, let's say, Friday and Saturday. If you book the whole place for Saturday, I have not only insulted my regular customer, but I have also left their room un-booked for Friday. Next, as pointed out above, there is concern that large groups that are celebrating something are more likely to do damage if they have the place to themselves. It costs time and money to recover from this kind of problem. For some reason unknown to any of us, the same group is on much better behavior when they are amongst strangers.

I think they really don't want your business but don't want to snub you. They are politely saying, "If you are really set on coming here against our wishes, make it worth our while."
posted by Old Geezer at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2010

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