Several days ago I posted about the Fairmont Friends & Family rate. In the current low bookings environment, hotels are looking for ways to get incremental room nights. Fairmont has been promoting the employee friends and family rate, encouraging employees to have their friends book deeply discounted stays and even offering them a $10 per booking financial incentive for doing so.
The goal of this sort of promotion is to spur incremental business, somewhat ‘quietly’ in a way that doesn’t detract from revenue bookings. In other words, sell a room that would otherwise go vacant for $129 without diverting someone to that rate who would have booked a room at $429.
And since the friends and family rate is capacity controlled, with hotels only making rooms available that would go unsold at higher rates, this is an excellent strategy. It’s similar to what hotels try to do with Priceline, dumping deeply discounted inventory for rooms that would otherwise go unsold, using Priceline’s opaque booking engine as a way to ensure that customers who would otherwise book the same hotel at a higher rate aren’t the ones booking at the lower one.
Intercontinental Hotels Group was first out of the gate with encouraging employees to distribute the friends and family rate broadly. So it wasn’t really a surprise when Fairmont followed suit.
However, they may not have anticipated that the deal would be distributed broadly on the internet, in various forums including Flyertalk. It’s incremental bookings but more public than intended (in the modern age one really shouldn’t assume that such offers stay quiet….) and perhaps Fairmont didn’t anticipate shelling out five figure amounts to their employees for promoting the offer, either.
Barn door open, there’s not a ton that Fairmont can do about the promotion at this point. So according to discussions on Flyertalk it appears that reservations booked using the NFAF promotion code are being honored, but that the required booking IDs for employees that must accompany the rate are being changed — so that the booking IDs distributed broadly on the internet won’t work going forward.
Existing stays should be fine, at least per the discussion, but future stay bookings will need a Fairmont employee to share a new booking ID.
As they say, “developing…”