The Hampton Inn in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, March 2013.
Spring break is here, which means travel plans for many Americans. Among the drudges of trip planning is lodging. Whether it’s a hotel, motel, hostel or all-inclusive resort, a lodging plan needs to be built into every overnight vacation.
Those who choose to relax and unwind at a hotel have many brand options, including the Hampton Inn by Hilton. This mega-chain has over 2,000 locations in 17 countries across the world, with an overwhelming majority located right here in the USA.
Late last year, Hampton opened a brand new, state-of-the-art property in Fort Mill, South Carolina that may be particularly enticing to travelers. Looking to book directly at this infant hotel, one might head to the Hilton website, where the price is $89 per night.
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After applying all discounted rates, Hampton calculates that the cheapest price is a government/military rate. So, continuing with the booking process, one will obviously look for the $89 rate…
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…only to be told that the rate they were looking for doesn’t exist. In this broader rate view, Hampton reveals all of the different prices for one King-sized bedroom, none of which are $89. However, looking to the asterisk tells us that there is a rate change during the stay, (e.g. one night is $89, while other nights are more expensive.) But the “State Government” and “Military Family” rates don’t have asterisks, so there shouldn’t be a rate change at all. Selecting any one of these rates breaks down the total charges, which are the same for each discount type.
But the Fort Mill property wasn’t the only one with false rates. We searched for properties in twenty different cities, from Birmingham to Boise to Boston, with over 75% of these searches resulting in an advertised rate that simply wasn’t there.
So where does Hampton get their figures? Do they just pull them out of thin air? We asked Hilton these questions and more, but the hospitality giant has not yet responded.