Tag: Hotel BookingView All Tags
At the end of May, we gave you an inside look at the inner-workings of hotel booking sites, specifically rate-parity laws that dictate the different prices that can be offered to the consumer through various booking mediums, such as hotel websites and competing booking engines.
A startup out of Denver, Hotel Engine, is the latest discount hotel booking site to pop up on the Interwebs, and, of course, claims to have the lowest prices, as do many others. But according to founder Elia Wallen, Hotel Engine actually has a case to the claim thanks to its use of a simple strategy that allows it to get around the rate-parity issue amongst its competition: Free memberships.
Wallen told the Denver Post that rate-parity laws that hinder competing public sites working with the same hotel do not apply to membership-based sites, and thus, those who take a few minutes to sign up will be greeted with friendly prices. Registration is free, but that simple step of requiring visitors to sign up before getting a price quote means it is not held accountable the way Expedia and others are by law.
Sticky legal situations overseas for U.S.-based online booking sites such as Expedia, Priceline, and Booking.com are nothing new. In 2011, Expedia was fined for advertising false prices in Europe, and in 2012, U.K. regulators accused the sites of price fixing and anti-competitive practices.
The latter of those lawsuits was thrown out earlier this year, but foreign entities aren't giving up on enforcing its national laws on digital businesses based overseas. This week, the French government sued Booking.com, claiming that its contracts with properties "prohibit hotels from offering prices for rooms at a price lower than those displayed on Booking.com’s website," once again raising issues of anti-competitive behavior.
The problem with the practice is that the contracts take the power away from the hotel in terms of its ability to set prices and offer deals through its own website. In other words, if you want to do business with any of the online booking companies, you forgo your freedom to offer lower prices to other market segments via other channels, including your own reservation department.
The Marina Bay Sands is easily Singpore's most iconic hotel. And if you make it to the city, we recommend at the very least taking a peek inside the atrium-style lobby or even heading upstairs for lunch at the rooftop eatery KU DE TA.
However, if you're Singapore-bound this summer, and are planning to book a night at the 2,561-room hotel, here's some friendly advice you may want to keep in mind: every August 9, Singapore celebrates National Day to commemorate Singapore's independence from Malaysia in 1965. And just like how towns across the US explode with fireworks every July 4, so too does Marina Bay light up with an impressive pyrotechnics display on the big day.
From what we hear, sh*t gets real cray. Not only do the malls fill up with shoppers ready to cash in on the Great Singapore Sale (that's a whole other story), but all the Marina Bay-facing hotels get bought up by locals who want to have the best views possible of the fireworks.
This means that rooms at the MBS can go for as high as SGD $700/night, when usually they're about half that price—or less.
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About a week ago, we were on our laptop, browsing for a hotel in Los Angeles. Several called our name, but on the advice of an LA acquaintance, who recommended the downtown area as a place worth checking out, we set our sights on The Standard Downtown LA. We visited the website and checked rates for our two-night stay at the end of Memorial Day weekend. $165/night—not bad.
Then, getting distracted, we clicked out of the site, only to find, when we re-entered the dates about half an hour later, starting rates had gone up to $183/night. Nooo! So we didn't hesitate to simply pick up the phone and call the hotel's reservation center. When quoted the same $183/night rate, we explained how minutes before, we had seen the same room for about $20 less. "Well," the agent explained, "that might have been due to the Memorial Day weekend special we're running."
Oh? We hadn't heard about those rooms, which apparently were available for a much more reasonable $145/night.
So we booked two nights there and then and called it a day. But our luck hadn't run out just yet...