Yes, another way out there, erc missive on his arch rival, the Marriott.com Pricing Grid.
Having my morning coffee, researching some Marriott prices, and reading the paper, it all came together - relating to the Marriott.com pricing grid - Be afraid, be very afraid! I seem to find pricing 'quirks' that irritate me about once every three or four months (and, of course write about them on Insiders repeatedly ).
My most recent examples surprised even me; booking a nice fall stay at the Ventura Beach Marriott (combined w/jerrycoin's fave, the Oxnard Res. Inn) I sought a weekday/weekend combo. Weekdays were $151, weekends $135 - price posted as from $135, the only problem, when I booked the reservation, all four nights came out as $151 (even tho the weekend nights as a separate reservation was $135). I had to call the Plat line to get it all on one reservation - but, if I hadn't looked, I might have been hosed six months from now (because I might have forgotten and I wouldn't have had proof).
My second example was the SpringHill Midtown Manhattan. As we all know, always check your rates up to arrival, they often go down. Sure enough, my room rate went down $20 ($30 aftertax); the problem, when I tried to book it I was informed by the grid that those rooms, even though advertised as from, were sold out (I was holding one). I called Plat and they moved me to the lower rate.
Today this Washington Post article appears highlighting the following concept;
Researchers have discovered one reason what we see is a composite of what we saw: Our brains perform automatic visual smoothing over time. A new study has found that our visual perception of things is influenced by what we saw up to 15 seconds ago. This helps create a stable environment, despite sacrificing some accuracy.
I will now be thinking about this when I see two different AAA rates, Marriott Rewards Offers higher than Standard rates, and AAA rates higher than Standard Rates along with the other 'quirks' in the grid.
Having practiced the 'black arts' of marketing during my P&G days (Gestalt Laws - Continuity, Closure, Proximity etc) and knowing
that Marriott's pricing guru David R. is a former rocket scientist who worked on the SDI (Star Wars) and has written papers on options trading alternatives to the Black-Scholes model which will give you a brainfreeze, I'm not going to try and fool myself into thinking I can outsmart the Wizards of the Grid. But there are ways to minimize the impact of Marriott's brilliance; and we've discussed several; know your values so you can jump on a good price (they don't stay up long), use the codes, book early and often, constantly check price, and a more recent one to me and several other long time loyalists, consider other lodging options.
I am excited to report that I just snagged a Travelzoo.com for the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago (for the much dreaded, pay through the nose, mid-week July time period) replacing my beloved SpringHill Chicago RiverNorth saving over $1,000 for two rooms for three nights (breakfast included and $25 bar credit) and I had early SpringHill rates $150 lower than current net total. The voucher sold out in only four hours, you snooze, you lose.
If you're lodging at your company's expense and it doesn't matter, good for you. If you're lodging at your company's expense and it does matter, then take the time to be cognizant of the pricing issues and options out there, and of course if you're lodging at your own expense, don't wait until you find the time to know the values, make the time, there's real price volatility out there. Keep on keepin' on Insiders as we struggle against the Borg of the Grid.
Washington Post article PS - if anyone understands the video, please inform - to me, it wasn't worth going thru the ads to watch, it looked like photos from the Mars Rovers (maybe my computer is messed up, but I didn't see what they said I would). And the Brad Pitt continuity story strikes home; I've dabbled with young filmmakers, it's so easy to mess up, "not seeing the forest for the trees", there's web sites dedicated to Movie Continuity Mistakes. And yes, it is true what they say about producing films, "How do you make a small fortune in movies? Start with a large one".
I've also had to call the Platinum reservation lines a few times in the past to get lower rates for certain days of a stay. Most of the time it involves a stay which includes weekend nights and some weekday nights. Usually in this case the nights of the weekend are much less than the weekdays. But I've also have found this true of rental cars. During my last stay in Vegas I needed a car from a Thursday evening until a Tuesday morning. I found that if I rented a car from the company Thursday through Monday I could get a weekend rate of $25 a day but if I rented the car for the entire stay (Thurs-Tues) the rate went up to $40 a day for each day. Since I knew I would have some free time on the Monday and the car rental location was close to my hotel I decided to make two separate reservations with the same rental car company and returned one car and picked up another and save myself $60. The rental car staff at the this busy location didn't even notice that I returned one car and picked up a different one on the same day.
Your dead on correct, vaboy. As service companies get more and more into sophisticated revenue maximizing algorithms there are occasional 'black holes' of value, that by trial and error, the traveler can save money by apparent economic illogic. I've often saved money on rental cars by adjusting the rental by one or two hours (either way - shorter or longer rental) and it favorably impacts the rate for each day (and of course same thing sometimes relates to size of car, sometimes based on availability, the larger car can be cheaper). I'm still too nervous to ever try tef's and others' successful technique of only renting compacts and playing the upgrade lottery; I just know I'll rent at a time of a flood of subcompacts and end up with a Yugo for my Big Sur type scenic drive !
And of course, our own pals at Marriott have taught us that many times (although less frequently than before as Marriott sweeps thru the matrix, slurping up any anomalies in our advantage - they keep their 'quirks') it's less expensive to stay Saturday and Sunday than Sunday alone. Weekend rates often impact overall rates and sometimes lead to two reservations, producing net savings.
Marriott, by pushing their operating policy (not price) decision making down to the property level, has trained us all to develop interactive skills to optimize our travel experiences (look at cal's experience trying to book an award trip in Kauai, where they are sandbagging their award nights). Granted, it's an extra chore to have to book each individual stay with a specific 'strategy', but it has taught us lateral thinking and to avoid taking anything for granted.