Screen grab - madarin oriental bangkok via wego

It looks like the much-hyped pursuit of rate parity, charging the same for rooms across all distribution channels, has become the accommodation industry’s Holy Grail. A worthy but impossible goal, as this screen grab from for the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok demonstrates.

Nine online travel agents, six different rates with a price variation of A$114 (A$309 to A$423) for a one night stay on May 8, 2013.

Meanwhile the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok splits the difference offering a Best Available Rate of A$359.

As anyone who travel knows, such divergence is a routine occurrence.

But just a few years ago the major chains vowed every customer would pay the same no matter where they booked, and that the hotels themselves would never be undercut.

Best Rate Guarantee is proudly displayed across many major sites.

However, keeping control of rates has proved to be beyond most hotels, even for some of the industry’s biggest names.

The issue is complex but the fundamental reason is special rates hotels are offering high-volume trade customers are leaking into the general consumer market.

And consumers know this.

A recent a vox pop by that shows many consumers now believe the best rates can be found at OTAs.

When will it end?

Probably never, but simplifying the rate structure and switching to dynamic pricing would certainly help…

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