I am writing from Newark, New Jersey, which is not my new favorite place. But this is not a post about that. On the flight here I noticed the airline magazine and spent a few minutes going through the puzzles. Across from one of the puzzle pages was a full-page glossy ad for FRE*E Hotel Bookings.
A. We have folks unclear on the concept of profitablility, or
B. They are very clear about profitability and want to lure me to their site for the sake of add-on fees or upsells to make their free offer not so free.
I have nothing against f*ree, but I’m done with it. If you offer fre*e hotel bookings, then you are getting paid by the hotel to make the booking and that removes choice from me and pervert the recommendation system. No one works out of the goodness of their own heart. No one gives away full-page ads in a top 3 highest captive audience rated magazines.
We have to eat. We sell.
I would rather pay a hotel booker to make sure I get the kind of room I want, where I want, when I want for the price I am willing to pay. It seems like we should have this service offered already . . .
Oh wait, we do!
They were called travel agents. And while most have raced to the bottom to offer me-too basic booking services for nothing or next to nothing, some are still around, thriving.
Booking my hotel room is brainless. What we are willing to pay for is intelligence.
It is also more profitable for those who choose the long term committment to excellence demanding consumers seek. For my trip to Newark did I need a hotel booker? No. Due to the gig, there is exactly one hotel where I will stay. So I booked directly with the hotel, like most of us do.
When I want to go white water rafting . . . then I have options.
This is an unpaid recommendation for a friend of mine’s business, Golden Adventures. Diane Golden specializes in Baby Boomers and mild adventures. She organizes trips for runners, cyclists, wine lovers and hikers. And she does a mighty fine job. She specializes in her choice of population: Active Baby Boomers and her activities. And this year she’s been hiring.
So never mind the down economy, while it hasn’t been her best year ever, she has been growing. Providing expert service is more compelling than a f*reebie offering. I know the game for hotel . com, and for better or worse I use their paid reviews of properties written by low-paid staff members who have never been to the property (I’ve known some of these folks) to compare against other reviews, and then I make my choice and book directly.
That may seem unfair, but they don’t give me any reason to be loyal, they aren’t ultimately providing me with what I want which is real intelligence about my options. They are not making my job any easier. Indeed ultimately the free offerings cost me more time and THAT is the most precious commodity right now. F*ree is just too expensive.
Image courtesy of Platform London