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Saturday, August 21, 2010

CUSTOMER RESPONSE

I have had many conversations about resort fees over recent months.  The casinos seem to fall into groups of those that have large fees, those that hold small fees, those that have none, those that reveal the fees, those that do not.
I thought it might be interesting to group the customers according to how they think and handle the resort fee issue in discussion.


PURISTS - -  For some people the resort fee and all the bait and switch and fine print tactics that come with it are so insulting, demeaning and fundamentally immoral that they refuse to do business with resort fee hotels.  I have read of folks who were regulars at the Palms and who now refuse to book there because the Palms installed a one dollar resort fee.  These folks have taken a moral stand and will contribute by boycott to ending resort fees if that is possible just as all idealists contribute to positive change.

PROTESTORS - Some people decide to simply keep asking for the fees to be waived.  They ask upfront, they ask at check in, they ask again at check out, they ask their host, they dispute their credit card bills, they make steady and continued argument hoping that at some point they either have the fees waived, earn some kind of compensatory benefit, or at least make the casino earn the fee in added work to collect it. Even when not booking a property, these folks may complain to a resort fee hotel or write a letter of praise to any hotel that avoids the practice.  Like the Purist, these folks work to wear down the resort fee machine.

PRAMATISTS-  Some people want to balance the resort fee with all other aspects of booking, including all amenities and values and preferences so as to arrive at the best possible booking that yields the most economic utility.  They often do not like resort fees, but see them more as something that further complicates their booking decisions with deceptive and confusing details,   rather than a moral wrong.  They do the mathematics as best they can, make deals where possible, and weigh all factors in their decision. They take on the complicated and time consuming process of identifying resort fees and computing the actual costs of booking a hotel and then compare that to the actual benefits.  They repeatedly call and confirm the details of their bookings so as to check when fees are raised.

PATRONIZERS- This person tries to take on the pragmatist disguise, but has a hidden agenda of using the confusion and anger around the resort fee (and the possibility that some might get tricked by bait and switch or fine print) to minimize the issue and demean all Purists, all Protesters, and often anyone who takes the issue seriously.  Sometimes their purpose is simply to establish themselves as superior to folks who just can't seem to "do the math."  They ignore the disingenuousness and unpredictability of the practice and put the entire onus on the consumer with the motto,  "Let the buyer beware, " by which they really mean to say, "Why isn't everyone as smart as I am?"
In some instances, I have found out that people assuming this position work for the casinos and don't really have a common interest with folks who are customers and book rooms.  If their job depends on casino profits, they naturally want this resort fee profit maker to succeed.  Also, people who hear customer complaints day in and day out can get a bit cynical about the folks who give the casino a hard time.

OPPORTUNISTS - These folks actually gain by the implementation of the resort fee.  They have always chosen to use the workout room and get free wifi and have been paying rather high fees for those amenities.  With resort fee pricing, their cost has been reduced; with a mandatory charge for all, their use of these services is subsidized by those who don't use them.  Included here as well is the high roller who gets the fee waived on comped rooms, but still gets all the amenities it buys, and so has gained free wifi or other new amenity with the resort fee practice.

GREENHORNS - This is the person most likely to be fooled by the resort fee, to miss it in the fine print, to not understand that discounters do not generally reveal resort fees, to get caught and not know about it until check in, or check out, or when the credit card bill arrives.  They are new to booking hotels and in their trip planning have not come across the practice or the issues rasied by the fees.  Often in the end they feel foolish or feel angry about  having been tricked.
I have many resort fee related exchanges with people on discussion boards or in emails or in commentary after news articles.  The casino hotels are fairly well grouped as to whether they have the fees or not, reveal them or not, have raised them or not.   I thought it might be interesting to group the sort of folks I've heard from and talked with around this issue.


JADED DEFEATISTS -  Some gambling research indicates that some people do not feel comfortable winning and will generally gamble until they lose.  It suggests there are people who find perverse pleasure in being victims. At any rate, these customers have been beaten up so many times that losing is just what life is.  "What can you do?" they say, "Resort fees are just here to stay.  Might as well get used to them."  Purists and protesters make the defeatist uncomfortable.

APATHETICS- These folks  just do not pay any attention to the fees.  Perhaps they are too busy to care or do not value a small amount of money added to a large hotel bill.   Some are  dysfunctional and have difficulty just making a reservation let alone attending to complicated details.  Perhaps the rooms are comped and the customer says, "Well, I can't complain about an added $15 since the room is free, so it is still a bargain."  Perhaps the motto of this customer is, "Hey, it's only money" and no attention is paid to the amount even when the credit card bill arrives.

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