Holiday Inn Manager: If You Book Through Priceline, You're A "Bad Customer"

Discount travel websites can provide amazing discounts, but can also make you a second-class consumer of sorts–particularly in hotels. Jesse learned this the hard way when he booked a stay at a Holiday Inn in a major American city. He tells Consumerist that he reserved his room through Priceline, and called the hotel to make sure that his reservation would include two double beds for the four people traveling. He checked in to find a single queen bed in the room. His mistake? According to the hotel manager, being a “bad customer” who booked through a third-party site.

He writes:

My wife and two of her friends were going to visit some friends in the San Francisco area so we decided to book a room in the city. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Hotel [in a major city] well in advance of our trip (a month) and contacted the hotel directly RIGHT after I had made the booking. I informed the reservations desk of my reservation, which they found fine. I informed them that I had four adults and wanted to make sure I could have two doubles rather than one queen or king. The reservation person confirmed this with me and everything seemed fine. Fast forward to the vacation. I check in around 6pm (3 hours after the checkin time) without incident. I didn’t triple check for any changes as the staff was dealing with a large tour group and wedding party checking in. I got up to the room to find a single queen bed.

I went back down to front desk and tried to have it sorted out. The front desk said that they couldn’t move us, as they were completely booked. I asked to speak to a manager about it. The long and short of it is that since I had booked through a 3rd party (which Holiday Inn agrees to book to) that I could only make requests and not actual “Guaranteed” bookings. He proceeding to stick to his guns and to semantics and ignore that I had made the bookings and follow up phone call well in advance and the front desk neglected to inform me that I was basically wishing upon a star to get the my requests. Holiday Inn bumps your reservation for other guests that book directly through them. So if you make a booking for a King through Orbitz or Priceline don’t expect anything other than the smallest room. The manager so graciously gave me a rollup to sleep on while the three other people had to share the queen bed.

No offer other than a rollup to try and accommodate. I asked for comped or discounted parking (35 dollars a night). Nope, couldn’t do that. Breakfast voucher nope. I was the bad customer (his words) that booked through priceline instead of holiday inn. I believe it inexcusable that the only other offer he presented was that I cancel and get a refund and try to rebook somewhere else. (7pm on a Saturday.)

I think it’s important to let other consumers know that Holiday Inn’s position with 3rd party bookings is that you can be bumped without notice for a customer who booked through them.

My experience with booking a four-person room through Priceline was flawless, but it was also a few years ago. Have your third-party bookings worked well, or been full of insults and extreme closeness on too-small beds?