How do you respond to hagglers?

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GoodScout

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I've joked several times on this board that when I get hit up with people who want to talk me down on my rates, I respond with "I'm an inn, not a yard sale."

That said, I've noticed that as a larger percentage of my non-direct bookers are coming from AirBnB this year, I'm getting more and more of these people who try and negotiate with me on price. This morning's was basically a "We want to come for two days next week, would you be willing to lower the price to..."

Does someone have a nicer way than mine of saying "That's the price, take it or leave it" that makes it more likely they'll go ahead and book? I don't want to be combative; I just want them to book.
 

Arks

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I usually say that I give EVERYONE the best price possible to stay in business, I have to live too.
That's what I was thinking! I charge the rates I've determined necessary to be the best mix of high enough to stay in business and low enough to attract customers. We can't get them all. Or, if we do, we're hurting the business's bottom line.

Everybody wants everything cheaper. I do too. But I realize that businesses can't stay open if they don't take in enough money to pay the bills and make it worth it to do all the work.

Plus, hagglers just make me mad, and they're usually the people who complain about things and give me a hard time!

Maybe say something like, we're very proud of our rates, which reflect the value of what we have to offer while being affordable to almost everybody.
 

gillumhouse

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That's what I was thinking! I charge the rates I've determined necessary to be the best mix of high enough to stay in business and low enough to attract customers. We can't get them all. Or, if we do, we're hurting the business's bottom line.

Everybody wants everything cheaper. I do too. But I realize that businesses can't stay open if they don't take in enough money to pay the bills and make it worth it to do all the work.

Plus, hagglers just make me mad, and they're usually the people who complain about things and give me a hard time!

Maybe say something like, we're very proud of our rates, which reflect the value of what we have to offer while being affordable to almost everybody.
I recently had a call for a room - from the road. they wanted the Gillum and asked for a cheaper rate. I said I cannot do that. He said he had to talk to his wife, which we all know means moving on. Surprised when they called back to book my budget room. Had they just booked the budget in the first place, I probably would have given them the Gillum because it makes a better impression and the bathroom is ensuite. Even though it is bigger, I would rather clean that room than the others. Because they tried to dicker, they got what they booked. Really nice couple, but they got my nose out of joint trying to dicker.
 

JimBoone

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I don't get many that question price and other than physical size/number of beds rooms are pretty much the same outside of color or decorations. I'm more inclined to suggest a "cheap" place to those who want a low price. I feel our price is already reasonable for our area, hopefully below most.
 

2cat_lady

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I respond with : I think you'll find that we're very competitively priced in comparison with everyone in this area but no one else has the view that I have to offer. I can suggest a few other places if it doesn't matter to you what you see out your window.
And I say this without being sarcastic although sometimes it's really hard ;)
 

Morticia

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My answer really depends on the circumstances. In your situation, where the guests are not direct bookings, I might be tempted to tell them they can immediately save 12% by booking on your website instead of using a company that is charging them a service fee. Explain, if you want, that you are also charged a commission, which of course raises your costs and thus the price. OTOH, you could tell them that Airbnb discourages you from discussing rate changes because it lowers their commission.

Other circumstances:
  • I’ll ask what their price point is and direct them to the place that charges that amount. (Altho, the two cheapest places in my town closed last year so the pickings are slimmer for price hunters wanting to stay downtown.)
  • If I don’t want their business I say the price is the price because of the location and the service.
  • If I wouldn’t mind having their business I say, ‘doesn’t hurt to ask, I’ll take off $10/night.’ (Probably the best ‘free’ advice I ever got was everyone wants to think they got a deal, and if that $10 will break you you’re in a lot more trouble than you think.)
  • I have jokingly given discounts for the ‘best sob story I’ve ever heard.’ (Same $10.)
  • If they’re really annoying I’ll say we have a discount for AAA members or whatever other group they’re claiming to belong to, but we only do one discount/stay and then ask which one they want. 100% ask which one is better and I say they have to pick first, then I’ll tell them.
  • If they’re excessively annoying, not just asking for a discount but downright rude, I say I’m sorry we can’t meet their price but ‘this place’ has a discount plan that might work for them. Then I give them the most expensive place in town.
 

flyingace71

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My wife always delights in answering the "what kind of special can you offer me?" with "I'll tell you what, I'll give you a deal... if you book your cottage with us RIGHT NOW, you GET to stay here!" ha ha
We too have found that people that haggle tend to be the most difficult guests.
 

FHI2426

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There are a lot of variables when I get these calls - is the room full priced for a time that wont be that busy? What is the tone/ the way the people present themselves? High season or low season? One night or more? Cheapest room or a specific/nicer/pricier room?

I always respond also that we include parking and breakfast and none of the big hotels in town (800 rooms within a mile of me) include that, though they dont tell you until you arrive.

Lastly, remember that our cost structure is a high fixed cost/ low variable cost, so a head on a bed is better than no head on a bed, it's a matter of what value someone perceives they are getting. I also often call up google hotels while I am talking to the person and look up the price of all the places nearby, so I can give myself all the info that the caller might have in front of them too

Sorry to make it sound complicated but a lot of variables go into price and decision making, cant "set it and forget it"
 

gillumhouse

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Hagglers only want the price to go down. I would rather than be empty than pay the electric bill to heat that room and the bathroom and jack the heat downstairs (gas bill) to make it comfortable for them at breakfast for their one night - 2-nights makes it worthwhile - at full rate. Some people do not know how to turn OFF a light switch and love their LONG showers or fill the clawfoot tub to chin level which adds dramatically yo my water/sewer bill (sewer is double whatever the water was). It is with extreme gratitude that I rarely get a haggler question and that they move on, because if they DO accept my price, they are determined to "get their money's worth" using every towel, taking every bottle of water in the guest fridge, etc. In summer they jack the A/C for all it is worth.
 

JimBoone

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Set (price) and forget, may vary with the individual and the method on which the price is based.

My goal is a nice place at a reasonable cost. I don’t double the price just because I could get it on certain weekends. Guess I’m also old and tired, if a room isn’t worth the charge then it’s a room I don’t have to clean tomorrow
 

seashanty

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This is a game and your rooms at ‘a low price’ are the prize. Just do a search for haggling for lower room rates and you will find forums and blogs with the suggested script. I won’t give the links as I don’t want to publicize them, but many are sub groups from air.
Readers are told, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
They start with the question ‘what is your best price’
Following that, the ‘shopper’ says I can only pay $$
And to say things like’ Inn A offers this, Inn B offers that’ can you match it?
My friend stayed with you, do you remember him?
Can I speak with the manager please?
AND
Once the lower price is achieved, the game continues
Do you offer free breakfast? Other perks? And can I get a free upgrade to a better room? Free early check in? Free late check out? You name it.
And then, lock it all in with a confirmation email.
Which some of them gleefully share with their inner circle

My dear friends, my advice is this ...
If you offer certain ‘discounts’ (and many of you hate that word)
You counter with that
‘We offer special rates for veterans, AAA, .... whatever’
and do not go below what works for you

Do not go with the rate that is insulting or not worth opening the room
Because you will get more such calls.

I have inn friends who say they just need ‘heads in beds‘
I have friends who say ‘only if it’s worth renting the room’
This is your choice
And I hate hearing some caller say, would you rather have empty rooms?
Sometimes, the answer is yes.

I would not worry about being rude as these callers will simply move on
Not that your place isn’t great ... they are just trying to win.
It’s not rude to say
That is our best price and stick to it.

It is 5 degrees here and I’m heading out. We’re getting ready for a storm.
 

Anon Inn

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Does someone have a nicer way than mine of saying "That's the price, take it or leave it" that makes it more likely they'll go ahead and book? I don't want to be combative; I just want them to book.
I still like the advice given long ago on this site, (Arks?)
"Our discounts are built into our prices"
Yes, I've used it, and yes, its stops the conversation in its tracks.
When asked for winter discounts, I dissemble, state that I'm the cook, housekeeper and bookkeeper, so to keep things manageable, I don't raise the rates in Summer either. True discount seekers will just move on. Those aren't our customers.
 

GoodScout

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Suggested a less expensive room.
Response: "Thanks, but still out of my price range, unfortunately."
Have no doubt I dodged a potential problem guest.

So amazing. Eight years ago, I would have fought not to lose a single booking.
Now, I know better and know bottom-feeders are there for a reason.
 

KenW

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Longer term i might consider it but my experience is that those guests looking for a deal are not the guests I want staying in my place.
 

Morticia

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‘Would you rather have empty rooms?’

I have definitely answered in the affirmative! If we’re empty I get to have a day off. One guy told me I was a terrible business owner if I thought having time to myself was more important than serving guests. He said I was going out of business pretty quickly with that attitude. That was ten years ago.
 

An Old Tavernkeeper

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We only offer discounts to active duty military and retired military that served a full 20 or are VFW members. (and have a CAC card to prove it, so sick of scammers)

If you can advertise on Airbnb in a way that people can find your website it is a great help getting rid of coupon guests too.

We make the price the same, example, book through us for next weekend and a room is $149 plus tax. On airbnb we make it $149 but they pay $188.80 plus tax with the $10 cleaning fee and the commission to Airbnb. So if they book direct they get a 25% discount over Airbnb just by using their brains and the internet.

What amazes me is that we still do $30k in Airbnb business each year.

Fact of the matter is if you use a middle man you pay more, so 100% of Airbnb, Expedia and VRBO guests pay more.
 

GoodScout

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It does amaze me that we add 3% to our AirBnB rates to cover our commission, the guest plays a huge fee on top of that to AirBnB, and we still have so many Air bookings this year. All these people paying more than they'd have to if they'd just book direct. We have a little "book direct" card we put in their free coffee cup when they check out, letting them know they'll save on their next visit if they book direct.

One thing I've discovered is that while I get some guests who come back from AirBnB, our return rate for those guests is much lower than first-timers who book direct or even those who find us through other OTAs. It's like Air customers revel in trying different places, even though they found our place amazing in every way.
 

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