Here we go again. Now that Hurricane Irene has bid farewell to the East Coast of the United States, stories of “bad business” are emerging in her wake. The most recent I found was a hotel in Brooklyn, New York—the Hotel Le Bleu—which reportedly charged guests US$999 rather than its usual US$250 per night during the weekend of evacuations in Manhattan, according to theNew York Daily News.
A hotel employee was quoted in the story as defending supply and demand basics: “It was just because of high demand,” said the employee, who would not give her name. “A lot of hotels did that.”
There are many stories that paint hotel operators in a negative light on the subject. In London more than a year before the 2012 Olympics, hotels also are fighting claims of price gouging. In New Zealand ahead of the Rugby World Cup, hoteliers are justifying higher rates while the media quotes hotel customers on the “abhorrent” practice.
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These examples, of course, refer to large-scale events that impact demand and are prepared for well in advance. Nevertheless, hotelier practices still garner media attention.
It’s an interesting topic that also commonly comes up after natural disasters around the world. Are hotels justified in capitalizing on increased demand, no matter the circumstances? That’s not a question I’m going to answer, but it is one that every hotel should address before natural disaster strikes. How will your revenue management team respond?
I’m curious to hear how you might react in similar circumstances. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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