A penny for your thought (room) – Fat Finger Rates

The Crowne Plaza in Venice, Italy created news worldwide due to what appears to be a fat finger rate of 1 cent per room. Fat finger rates have been around since the dawn of online commerce with incidents occurring in all fields of retail. Best Buy was a recent "victim" while travel sites have committed such bloopers fairly frequently. Travel site Expedia, a few years ago,  had a rate snafu that they initially refused to honor irking travelers before relenting and agreeing to honor the rate or at least its equivalent value for another booking.

Few merchandisers harness the unexpected worldwide PR exposure to their advantage and the hotel in Venice seemed slow off the mark in responding with a Reuters newsreport noting that staff at the hotel, some 25 km (16 miles) outside Venice, declined to comment. The parent company, Intercontinental Hotels Group, also failed to respond saying that a spokesman "was not immediately available". That is unfortunate, as the hotel group chose to honor the fat finger rate unlike Best Buy which plainly refused to honor the large screen TV "purchases" made uner the non-offer of $9.99. The hotel's 90,000 Euro mistake could well have been turned into a positive PR opportunity highlighting its reputation for rate integrity. 

A penny for a room can, however, be a genuine offer. That is the case with some Red Roof Inns in the US per an offer on the economy hotel chain's website  The lodging chain hopes to garner positive PR as well as convert penny pinchers into dollar spenders once they have stayed at a Red Roof Inn. The initiative is essentially akin to "free offers" that seek to keep the marketing conversation going:with new customers to the product or service as the real value of a free offer is the ability of the merchandiser to follow-up and continue the marketing conversation.when the time is right and the prospect is ready to take advantage of the services.  Red Roof Inn clearly hopes to entice the penny spenders to use the chain as their lodging of choice.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

One thought on “A penny for your thought (room) – Fat Finger Rates”

  1. RateTiger, an online channel management specialist has been advising hoteliers since 2001 how manual updates can lead to costly errors. A statement issued by RateTiger’s COO Sascha Hausmann said, “The €0.01 per room incident experienced by the Crowne Plaza is a pure example of how human errors can have a major impact on revenue. With the employment of a channel management system the revenue manager would have been able to ensure all rates were accurate across all channels before making the relevant updates.”
    “Systems like ours allow hotels to set a minimum rate per hotel room to ensure typing errors are detected. As the online market place evolves, hoteliers are struggling to keep up, remain agile and control rates. This human error has occurred many times before and without utilising technology to simplify inventory and rate distribution, it is very likely to occur more frequently across the world as the number of channels that need attention increases.”
    “Hoteliers really need to think sensibly during these times, to ensure revenues are optimized. Making mistakes like this will not only have an impact for the hotel itself but will also send the economy into further disarray,” concludes Sascha.
    This case is a compelling example as to why hotels and the industry at large should give relevant importance to channel management solutions.

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