Go Ahead, Punk. Make My Day.

Much like the airlines with their available seats, hotels generally sell more than their available inventory of rooms in order to ensure 100% occupancy.  This practice is industry-wide.  You would find even the swankiest of digs doing it.  And, why not?  Why would a hotelier want empty rooms?  “Heads in beds” is a mantra every hotelier is chanting, and overselling is one of the methods of achieving it.

How is this done? A hotel typically has cancellations or no-shows for their room reservations.  Hoteliers must look at historical data in order to “forecast” the number of expected cancellations and/or no-shows for any given date.  Then, the hotelier will “oversell” the hotel by or close to that number.  For example, if a 100 room hotel has shown an average cancellation of 10 rooms on the second Sunday of July, the hotelier will sell 110 rooms for that day, hoping that the same number of cancellations and/or no-shows occur.

What is the downside? Of course, this method can totally backfire if the forecast is wrong or the travel behavior suddenly changed for that year, which could end up with 10 people showing up at the hotel that is already fully booked.  This would generally result in those 10 people being “walked” to another hotel.  “Walking” or displacing a hotel guest is overall a discomforting experience both from the hotelier’s perspective and the guest’s.  There are plenty of reasons why hoteliers should never walk a guest inasmuch as there are reasons why they should.  And, if this experience is indeed bad for business, why hasn’t it ceased?

When is this not a good thing to you? “Walking” the guest often happens between midnight and 6am the following morning.  This means that you, the guest, have either been traveling all day or had to catch a red-eye flight to arrive where you did, which also means that you are already not in a great mood.  And, in spite of how beautifully that helpless third-shift Front Desk Agent or Manager describes the other hotel where you’ll be spending the night, all you want to do is get into bed.  This also does not benefit you if you were only in that city for that night and had to catch another early flight or make an early meeting at that hotel the following morning.  Being “walked” is also not a good thing to happen to guests who’ve saved up money and planned for months for their one night in a ultra phat joint.

How does this benefit you? If you happen to be one of those unlucky travelers who end up being walked, take heart.  Typically, you will be walked to another hotel of comparable value and it would often be for just one night.  Also, generally, the hotelier who has temporarily displaced you for that evening will pay for your accommodations at that other hotel, and would often include additional “bonuses” such as free breakfast, long-distance phone calls, etc.  They are, after all, trying to lessen the impact of the displacement.  Then, when you return to their hotel on the following day, you are often treated as royalty, sometimes given a room upgrade, welcome amenity, and other offerings.  After all, they are now trying to win you back.

Regardless of how may feel about it, “overselling” and “walking guests” will remain standard practices in the hotel industry.  If it happens to you, try not to view it too negatively and, instead, focus on the positives. 🙂


8 Responses to “Go Ahead, Punk. Make My Day.”

  1. 1 kjpdel September 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

    oh the memories, it got easier the more you had to do it! There are some guests who take it realy well though, I’ve even had a guest walk to the new hotel rather than take the hotel Town Car!

  2. 2 jonsquared September 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    i would LOVE to be walked now that i’m on the other side of the desk! of course, i say this now but may feel otherwise once/if it does happen to me.

  3. 3 DAVE ID September 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Yeah but this rarely happens, or its never happened to me. Even when there have been accidents at airports and the carrier had to bunk us in hotels for the night they rarely had trouble getting us rooms in nice hotels. And bunking 2 plane full of passengers after a wingclip… Hilton for everyone. Food, fun and comfy beds.

  4. 5 smysore September 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    The first time this happened to my husband, I was very surprised. I didn’t know about this until then.

  5. 6 jonsquared September 27, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Hoteliers would prefer to keep ‘walks’ on the down-low. 😉

  6. 7 kjpdel September 28, 2008 at 8:58 am

    have to agree with all your comments jx2, I would love to see how it would go down if I was on the other side. How it would be handled, what they would offer, and of course what I could get out of it! 🙂

  7. 8 jonsquared September 28, 2008 at 9:01 am

    haha! you’re right, mr deL! we could easily scam them, but we won’t because of our damn morals…

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