What goes on in Amsterdam gets publicised across the entire web.

This whole rate parity campaign has been full of surprises and never more so than at the eyefortravel conference this week in Amsterdam.

After my slight debacle in Budapest recently when two fine ladies relieved me of near enough £700 the night before I spoke at the Hotrec conference (I’ll save that for the book), I took a rather more cautious approach in Amsterdam and left the party early (thank you again, Pieter). I was fully expecting an intense grilling from the opposition in the Lion’s Den. It didn’t happen.

On the contrary, the audience response to my telling them rate parity is tantamount to price fixing appeared to be very measured.

The event was a great insight for me into the role of the revenue manager. I thought these guys made sure that coins and notes were kept separate and closely guarded the swear-box. Far from it. It turns out that revenue management is nothing short of a science.

I’ve been to arcane conferences before on such topics as vertical restraints in competition law and neurolinguistic programming but never have I felt so out of my depth. It was largely incomprehensible to me. There were more three-letter-abbreviations (they call them TLA’s) than I could decipher in a life-time. I’ve got a better grasp on morse-code.

On that basis, I imagined that the feedback to my talk on rate parity / price fixing would be couched in detailed mathematical analysis but it wasn’t. It turns out these same revenue gurus are also online shoppers and that the part of my talk which engaged them was the fact that rate parity makes for a really dull shopping experience. It practically kills it.

We all love shopping for a bargain – it’s at the very core of commerce – and if you take that away all you have left is loads of big brands spending vast amounts of money trying to draw you away from their competitors generic offering to their own.

So the talk was well received. Meanwhile, I was disappointed that my arch-rivals Booking.com weren’t there. It is their home town after all and I thought it would be fun to catch up with them for a beer and a schmoek. Perhaps they were too busy nicking lunch money off the local school kids (that’s a joke of course! – Dutch kids have their lunches paid for by the state).

I thought the event was a qualified success overall. I didn’t get side-tracked by beautiful faux-tourists offering to show me their city in return for my salary, I responsibly left the party at the right time and I didn’t get mauled in the den.

Result!

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6 Responses to “What goes on in Amsterdam gets publicised across the entire web.”

  1. Markus Luthe says:

    Hi Dorian,

    I didn’t know you were that maltreated in Budapest before our meeting. Next time Sascha and me will pick you up for an unforgettable “Jaegermeister Red Bull” even the night before… :o)

    Anyway, I am quite sure you won’t get grilled at any hotel industry expert meeting for your RPA (=rate parity attach)!

    Best regards,

    Markus

  2. Dorian says:

    Hi Markus,

    I’m not sure about ‘maltreated’. I have to accept some responsibility. Every time I visit a city for the first time I let my guard down, go with the flow and attract all sorts of unsavoury characters. This was no exception and I had to explain all to Sascha over breakfast (he was very understanding seeing how I blew him out the night before).

    Next time I will happily leave myself in yours and Sascha’s safe company (if “Jaegermeister Red Bull” is indeed safe).

    Cheers,

    Dorian

  3. John says:

    Dorian,
     
    I have been reading your blog on and off this last month, having come to the attention of the Booking.com “rate parity team” late last year.
    Yes, my email is especially setup for this entry as I do not want any repercussions from my posting, I will also be posting via mobile, so that my IP is masked to a degree.
     
    I totally agree with what you have been saying, the “rate parity, price fixing” clause which is very much enforced by Booking.com is quite disturbing, let alone the threatening tactics used against small business owners by their “enforcement team”.
     
    Small business B&B owners already have a number of economic barriers of entry to the online market, such as commission rates as high as 30% with some extranet sites on a much lower tariff than a large 4 or 5 star hotel and the costs of a quality grading scheme.
     
    As of last week our on the phone pricing and our own website pricing now has to be in parity with booking.com’s commissionable pricing, or we will lose out on an awful lot of business (as was kindly pointed out to my wife by the lady from Booking.com on the phone).
     
    Therefore, I have put our prices up! The customer will now pay more, I suppose we will make more money on bookings made directly, but I feel that we now offer less value to people whom we essentially let into what is our home, and now we do not control our own small businesses pricing directly(which is why is became self-employed in the first place, a big conglomerate does.
     
    The business volumes from Booking.com are of such a large volume of our total turnover, that not to comply could cost us our business and home, even though clients do accept that using such sites involves a cost to the accommodation provider and so accept that prices are higher.
     
    Though I am now going to subversively protest against booking.com, by opening giving a special repeat bookers business card which, encourages clients who stay with us to book directly with us next time and quote an offer code (on the card) to get a repeat bookers special discount, which I don’t think Bookking.com will be able to stop nor find out about.
     
    I would love to use your site, but the thought of another call from the enforcement team makes me want to vomit!

  4. Dorian says:

    Thank you for sharing your predicament with me (and the rest of the world). I totally understand your wanting to remain anonymous – there are very few businesses out there wishing to make a public statement against the already intense backdrop of O.T.A. harassment.

    Whilst I can’t predict the outcome of the case with the Office of Fair Trading, rest assured that this whole practise of O.T.A.s dictating pricing and distribution strategies is coming under close scrutiny. One of the world’s top law firms, DLA Piper, is holding a meeting today to discuss the issue of price fixing in the hotel industry.

    I will keep you up to date with proceedings via my blog and by all means write to me directly if you think I can be of any direct assistance to you.

  5. Vic Lawson says:

    I believe you are being very infantile about your approach and subtle tactics; if you had a bit of pride you would fully refuse to go along with requirements; instead, just like a very fearful and weak person, you kdraw your blade and stab the opponent at the back because you are way too small to stand up for yourself like a real man.
    I guess I am lucky I did not have a father like you

  6. Dorian says:

    I’m not sure where I’ve been subtle. I stated: “rate parity is tantamount to price fixing”. What more could I say?

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