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So What’s An Unpublished Hotel Rate Anyways?

Yup, we noticed that hotels are starting to publish their “Unpublished Rates” too.  It should be right there in Webster’s under the definition and proper use of the word “Oxymoron,” loosely defined as “a figure of speech that produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect.”  Examples for Oxymoron; “The unpublished rates published by hotel booking websites”.  It makes your brain hurt if you let it circle around too much.  Surely this is the kind of infinite loop that used to lock up our old DOS machines in the late 80’s. 

Is This Live or Is It Memorex®?

Why would this marketing hu-ha happen when we should have flying cars by now? Unsold Hotel Rooms™ set out to see what this marketing hype was about and found that lots of major hotel booking websites have you guessed it; unpublished published rates. or they have published their unpublished rates, or whatever they would like us to believe.  Apparently most of them are afraid to be left out of this gig. We would surmise, if you’re reading this article the “cats now out of the bag” on this marketing play.  Somewhere in Manhattan an ad agency is working on the next campaign for dry water or visible air, these things will surely also get a lot initial attention, like x-ray vision glasses did in the 60's.

You won’t Find the Unpublished Rates Published

Ok, so we had our fun with this, but is there really such a thing as an “Unpublished Hotel Rate”?  You might be asking yourself; how would I find such a rate if in fact it’s not published? Indeed there is such a thing as the unpublished hotel room rate.  It’s always existed, and it probably always will.  Hint: you won’t find it published on the unpublished rate page of your favorite hotel booking website. Unpublished Hotel Rates are used to fill Unsold Hotel Rooms.  They are the hotels best friend when the clock runs out on their inventory and the death march for the empty room at midnight awaits. 

It’s not just the hotels themselves that suffer, large hotel booking websites, operators, and suppliers make commitments on hotel room inventory.  That’s how we can offer it cheaper than the hotels themselves. It’s a gamble that has to pay off.  There’s a huge difference between a room that gross’s $0 for the night and one that quietly turns enough profit to pay the operating expenses and prevent a net loss.

Can’ I Just Ask to See the Invoice?

There’s no supplier in the hotel industry that is going to publish this rate.  Heck, this would be like going to a car dealership and simply asking for the invoice on the car and offering “to pay that amount”.  Sounds too easy right. And most of us know that any invoice they’d give us (we’ll use the term "publish") isn’t reflective of reality anyways. Dealerships get numerous year end kick-backs, rebates, volume bonuses, and sales incentive awards, which likely makes just about every sale over the invoice amount profitable.  Secrets being divulged here; the accommodation industry is no different than others in this regard.

The economic reality is that there are sale quotas and goals all the way up and down the line in the accommodation and booking industry. Each and every room that can be sold each and every night is marketed in such a manner is to increase the likelihood that it produces revenue and helps meet revenue targets.  It follows the supply and demand curve, desperation can occur at the end of the demand curve when the room is about to go unsold.  Operators and suppliers need to make a decent profit on the masses to offset the losses at the end-of-life for the unsold hotel rooms they will inevitably have to manage.  This won’t happen by publishing the rock-bottom rates beforehand and trying to convince hotel guests that they’ve found the hidden page on the website with the unpublished published rates.

So How Do You Find an Unpublished Rate Then?

There are generally two ways to find unpublished hotel room rates. Both require that you can adjust your travel dates and be flexible, and both generally work better when you are travelling on short notice and the hotel supplier has Unsold Hotel Rooms that they desperately want to fill.  Here’s where you start;

  1. Call your favorite Hotel Booking Website on their toll free number and talk to the Hotel Booking Specialist.  Let them know you are looking for late hotel booking specials, last minute deals, and hotel special promos.  Often times these come in the way of the “last room available” in the hotel.  Have them search and quote you the rates on this special inventory due to expire soon.

    And when they’re done and have quoted you the “unpublished” rate,  (then and only then) let them know if you have an AARP, AAA, or similar group affiliation membership and ask them if they can get the rate down for you even further using your group affiliation discount.

  2. Conduct the same search yourself on a site like Unsold Hotel Rooms that specializes in this type of inventory.  Use the “Sort by” feature at the top left of the search results to select “Promo’s First”.  This is the inventory that needs to move fast.

If you find what you are looking for don’t delay too long as like an airline seat, someone else may be looking at it too. You may lose it if you leave to make a cup of coffee or go to the grocery store. The inventory is fluid and updates real-time.  Most often these rooms are the same as the other rooms in the hotel but occasionally if it’s the last room available it may be slightly less desirable in exchange for the decent discount that you’ll obtain.  And by this we mean you might get a room with a handicapped shower configuration or you might be near an elevator, an ice machine, or the lobby, etc.  The suppliers save these rooms for last knowing that they may have to drop the rate considerably at the last minute in order to get it filled.

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