Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Motel "Discrimination"

I have been following the saga of accommodation providers in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, that have a "discriminatory" policy of not accepting business from locals.

Revelations of this stance has caused quite a stir and is currently playing out in the media. It is interesting to see how this has been reported and the negative hand-wringing tone of feedback received from the public. Read the article with feedback HERE.

This reminds me of this year's media coverage of the hapless Palmerston North motelier that directed his wrath upon all residents of Wainuiomata by announcing a ban on anyone from the town that wishes to stay at his motel.

There is a valuable lesson in both instances.

Within the accommodation industry it is acceptable to discriminate in order to maximise returns and ensure happy returning guests, however any such policies should never be made public.

By discrimination I don't mean turning business away based on race, religion, marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation etc - This type of discrimination is clearly a no-go zone. However some accommodation providers may have a policy of not accepting reservations from guests that: only want one-night over a long weekend, sports groups, wedding parties, school ball attendees, stag parties, working girls OR locals. And this is acceptable - as long as they don't tell anyone!

Accommodation providers that have discriminatory guest policies should NEVER communicate these with the public. The public have an antenna for any perceived inequity and are quick to play victim with media that are more than willing to ramp up the angst. They will never understand why they could be denied and will always believe that they have a god-given "entitlement" to your services. They do not.

This industry requires operators to think on their feet, use discretion and be professional at all times. So if a group of 50 Hells Angles wish to stay at your motel property for their annual gathering, do not turn them down on the basis that you have a policy of not accepting groups or motorcycle enthusiasts. You simply do not have suitable rooms available and are unable to assist. Hopefully you are able to recommend an alternative accommodation option for them ;-)

Locals denied hotel rooms

By Joel Allen

27 July 2009

During one of the worst recessions in years, when many hotels are begging for customers, some Grand Strand hotels are refusing to rent rooms to certain people.

Angela Lee's mother got a brochure in the mail touting the beauty and amenities of several Grand Strand hotels. Angela happened to be planning a beach vacation with her mother and son so she called one of the hotels, Bluewater Resort, to make a reservation.

Everything was fine, she says - until she told them she lives in Conway. "Oh, you're a local. I'm like, yes, I am. Um, I'm sorry, we don't rent to locals. And I'm like, why," explained Angela.

Angela was told the hotel has had a bad experience with locals trashing rooms. Bluewater's manager, David Dozier, declined to speak to us on camera, but told NewsChannel 15 locals who rent rooms tend to hold big parties and disturb other guests.

The director of the Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association, Pauline Levesque, says that's a common complaint from hotel managers.

"Numbers of family members come and therefore their insurance is invalid, they're not registered at the hotel, too many people at the hotel, and then the paying guests, their stay isn't what it should be," she added.

Angela Lee isn't buying it.

"I'm very sure that somebody from New York city or Tennessee even could trash a room just as well as somebody living here in Myrtle Beach," said Lee.

She wonders about all those chamber of commerce ads, inviting people to come to friendly Myrtle Beach.

"We have beautiful places and smiling faces, but not for the people who live here," Lee said.

The manager of the Bluewater apologizes for the mailer that went to someone in Conway. He says that shouldn't have happened.

As for Angela, she has since found a hotel that does rent to locals and we should point out, there are many of them. She says they're planning on having a lot of fun at the beach.

Source: Click HERE

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