William Shatner sortof bugs me so I’ve never used Priceline to book a hotel before. My usual pattern for finding a room is to search on Orbitz.com or Kayak.com. Last year I stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Nashville and gave them my email address so I could get some coupons in my inbox every once in awhile. Sure enough I started getting some deals this summer. When I called the La Quinta in Davenport, Iowa to ask them about getting a room for a future trip I spoke with a less than enthusiastic clerk who seemed not so interested in earning my business.
Here are some facts. There are two La Quinta Inns within 10 minutes of where we planned to stop. One is near the airport in Moline and the other is more centrally located in Davenport. The price difference was about $25 (airport was cheaper). I asked the clerk at the Davenport location if he could match the airport price and he gave me an answer every customer hates to hear, “We’re a corporate store and they’re not so they can move their prices around in a way we can’t. I can’t match that price.” Translation for customer…”I’m not invested in the success of this business. I’m not on commission. I don’t care that you could become a lifetime customer. I’m not going to try to earn your business.”
It gets better. He added, “We’re pretty much booked for that night anyway and they probably have a lot of rooms available so that’s why they’re cheaper.” That may actually be true but here’s where I fault the guy…and if you own a business then pay attention.
This really wasn’t a conversation about price for me. Sure I asked him about price but he let the conversation REMAIN about price. Here’s what he could have said that likely would have won me over.
“We’re actually $50 better than they are but we only charge $25 more so we’re a bargain.”
“We don’t have planes flying over our hotel every 10 minutes. Is that worth $25?”
“If you want the cheaper hotel then I’ve got their number right here. If you want the better hotel then I’d love to have your family stay with us.”
“What if I buy you and your wife a pizza when you arrive?” (Which would cost them $10)
Any of those tactics would have worked to win me over b/c I actually wanted to stay there. He didn’t give me a reason to stay there. When customers talk about price change the topic to value. If they want to stay focused on cost/price then they don’t really care about value. There’s a big difference between price/cost and value.
Some people are just cheap and they don’t want to spend money. That’s not my ideal customer and hopefully it isn’t yours either. If you’re different in a way other than your price then tell your customer. Tell me why you’re worth more than your less expensive competitor.
The hotel is nice by the way. I just heard another plane fly over.