Sunday, March 14, 2010

Setting Future Tariff - 2

About this time last week we did a post on, Setting Future Tariff In Print. It has created a bit of a stir and we have been discussing this topic with moteliers quite a bit this week.

The nature of advertising in the main print accommodation guides, AA and Jasons dictate that moteliers need to fix tariff for the following season. Due to the layout and limited space available, it is impossible to give a snapshot of all specific applicable tariff  for a matrix of room types, guest number combinations and seasonality in a printed guide. So, accommodation listings in the guides and most other static print publications use a tariff range to give a simple, comparative tariff guideline to the travelling public. It's not perfect, but it seems to work and has become a standard industry practice.

At the Motella Blog, we maintain that ALL tariff published in the main guides should include GST and simply record the lowest and highest tariff for 2-persons over the usual 12-month life of the printed guide. Period.

We believe that the published tariff ranges must have credibility from a guest perspective and accommodation operators should have the business acumen to set and stick within a published tariff range. Insertion of tariff out-clauses, such as"tariff is subject to change" or "seasonal rates may apply" only creates unnecessary consumer angst and uncertainty.

This week it was pointed out to me that MANZ has given further unique tariff setting advice and has suggested how moteliers should now respond to future reservation enquiries.
"Make sure you have "wriggle room" around prices. In any forward booking note on the confirmation that "prices may be subject to change". This allows you to change the prices and then see if the booked party still wants to stay with you. It could also be handy if GST changes as well"
*Shakes head* Where do we start?....Part of running a professional and successful business is to convey to your market that you are capable of offering a defined product or service for a specific price and to be able to deliver this 100%. Quoting a tariff and then inserting a clause "prices may be subject to change" is madness. This is communicating to a potential guest that the motel is incapable (or can't be arsed) setting the future price of what they are supposedly experts in selling - their guest rooms! 

As a consumer I personally would find it difficult to deal with any business that was incapable of quoting for my future business and would quickly find someone else that could. 

Sure, it may be difficult for some accommodation operators to quote future tariff with pending GST increases and the Rugby World Cup running interference, however a call to pass the buck on tariff movements over to the consumer loses the motel sector credibility and frankly makes us look like a bunch of hicks.

We will be disappointed if the motel sector is fractionalized by some moteliers that will be blindly quoting tariff ex-GST, randomly inserting tariff escape clauses or even turning away business because of an inference that "setting future tariff is too hard".

We can be heartened however that  sanity will prevail with most moteliers ignoring questionable advice from their trade association and putting on a professional front.

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