How did it come to be that the hospitality industry, or more specifically, the hotel industry, would become such pushovers when it came to negotiations and contracts? In my decade of work on the hotel side, I was always blown away by the sheer magnitude of flexibility with which we operated. In what other industry would a contracted party be allowed to suddenly cancel their obligation, for a reason other than the contract stipulated was acceptable, and walk away completely unscathed with the hint of a promise of using that property in the future?
This has been a reality in the industry for generations. And when the hotel decides it’s time to firm its stance, to stand its ground, to actually adhere to contractual terms, the client is often so offended by it, that by the time all is said and done, the hotel has walked away with its tail between its legs. How often does a hotel bring a client to mediation or to trial?
We are trained, as consumers, that the moment we hit the “submit” button with airfare, we are locked in to that ticket and unless the world ended, there’s no way we are getting out of our obligation. Can you walk into a retail outfit and recommend to the store manager that the sweater on the rack is nice, but you’d simply prefer to pay less for it. Or better, at the counter, after reading their return policy which was neatly engraved into the writing surface, you suggest to the manager you’d like their policy rewritten because you’ll be out of town when the return date expires. Or at the concert venue, when the arena says you can’t bring in your own food, perhaps you might friendly suggest to the management that their food is too expensive so you’ll be brining in tuna salad. It just doesn’t happen! Not anywhere – except in hotels.
It’s far too late for the hotels to do much about it either. The precedent was set before the managers who are running these hotels were even born. But it doesn’t mean that the audacity isn’t still appalling when thought about long and hard.