Nothing sparks a bad PR storm for a hotel brand than fining hotel guests for posting negative reviews online. On the surface, it may seem shocking that a hospitality brand would employ this tactic, but it actually happens.
Last month, a hotel in the UK, did precisely this: it fined a couple $180.00 for posting a bad review on TripAdvisor. The result was that more than 300 negative articles appeared online, which made the hotel owners ultimately back down in its effort to charge extra for the negative review.
Of course, hoteliers are dealing with a special challenge in today’s transparent online world. This new frontier causes brands to relinquish control to its guests, and creates a need for doing more to please travelers.
But something else could happen as a result of this movement: the rise of dynamic pricing models. Rather than fining guests, hotel brands can quietly raise their prices – especially for more affluent guests.
Thanks to advances in revenue management systems, as well as online cookies and other data sets, hoteliers can tell which guests can actually pay more and charge accordingly.
This approach will most likely be done quietly with guests not even knowing that they are being charged more than others. Though there is a risk that a former hotel employee could spread the word, and let the world know about the pricing model.
As a result, there could be a movement where hotels hold guests hostage under the guise of, “give me more positive reviews and everyone will get discounted prices.”
Of course, this is all speculation at this point, and we have not seen any proof that this pricing model is currently happening.
But, we would wager a healthy bet that someone in the finance department of a major hotel brand is working on it as we speak.