Opinion By Martin Kelly

Has Hyatt taken the internet best rate policy too far? That’s the question I’m asking after recent dealings with the global hotel giant.

Without going into a lot of detail, it’s emerged that customers – irrespective of size or revenue potential – are mostly better off buying rooms through Hyatt.com because they won’t find better prices anywhere else.

In this particular case, time Hyatt.com was selling rooms at $144 but the best the hotel could offer was $160 with no inclusions, the same pricing as Wotif.com.

The hotel was also unable to offer a competitive room rate for conference delegates – suggesting a price almost 20 per cent more than Hyatt.com at the time.

According to the reservations department that’s because “the Hyatt.com rate is guaranteed to be our best rate of the day” … yeah, but doesn’t that mean Hyatt won’t be undercut by third-party sites or dodgy wholesalers?

Apparently not … it means every customer gets the same rate, irrespective of spend or revenue potential.

Call me crazy, but it seems like a strange approach – in a sense, almost anti-sales – and flies in the face of accepted practice that your best customers get the best rates (no matter what your business).

Why should customers bringing in thousands of dollars revenue be charged the same rate as someone staying one night at the cheapest rate?

Best ask the boffins in Hyatt yield management, who no doubt came at this policy from every angle before giving it the thumbs up.

I suppose in theory it sounds great.

“You’ll always get the best deal on Hyatt.com.”

Yet in practice it actually discriminates against the most valuable customers and reduces everything to price, when staying in a hotel, especially on a regular basis, should be about much more.

My feeling is that Hyatt would do well to remember that the Internet is not the answer to everything, people and relationships are.

June 5, 2007

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