TOURISM MATTERS: When price doesn’t matter
Even during a global economic recession, price isn’t always the paramount decision-making component of a person’s decision to buy a product or choose a particular hotel.
If it was, I am sure that we would have witnessed the demise of many upmarket brand names over the last two or three years.
To me, it’s far more about getting value for money after sampling the item or lodging, and that can be actual or perceived.
A consumer will either walk away following the purchase or stay and feel it was money well spent.
I have to travel to Dallas, Texas, partially on business and, hopefully, for pleasure. Not having been to this city for some time, choosing a hotel – or in this case two hotels – was a challenge due to the bewildering choice on offer.
Using the Internet to research the final selection led to a four-star traditional property right in the centre and a similar rated, but more recently built hotel in the suburb of Irving.
As a small hotelier I make no apologies in admitting that I shop around to try and obtain the best value possible.
After all, in business the easiest money you make is what you save.
By juggling with arrival dates, at the end of the day, the average rate per night my wife and I are paying is US$124 per night including all taxes.
One of the hotels has a particularly attractive loyalty programme, one of the best I have ever seen. By joining this, at no cost, little extras are thrown in like a tray of coffee or tea and orange juice delivered to your room each morning, a local newspaper, complimentary pressing of two clothing items, overnight shoe shining, Internet and a bottle of water on arrival day.
Add the wonderful facility of express check-in and check-out and that each stay earns airline miles makes it pretty unbeatable.
These additional items often make a guest feel special and, in the hospitality industry, surely that is the prime objective.
Before finally booking, I used TripAdvisor as a barometer to gauge previous guests’ objective comments.
One hotel is currently rated No.6 out of 187 and the other No.4 out of 78 properties so I?feel happy about the final choices.
What I have done on this particular occasion is probably no different than what many first-time visitors to Barbados would do, especially independent travellers who largely book direct and pay published rack room rates.
And unless our hotels totally rely on tour operators or wholesalers to fill their rooms, this is the reality of the markets that we, as a destination, are forced to currently compete in.
Wherever I travel, I like to have a rental car and again, just like many of our visitors, prefer to compare rates online prior to arrival to hopefully avoid any unpleasant surprise charges.
Faced with multiple vehicle supplier choices, this was again when loyalty programmes gave the edge, allowing an airport collection and return for less than US$20 a day including all taxes for a compact car.
We have to start to look more through the customers’ eyes and better understand how they eventually decide on a destination and specific accommodation choice.