Compensation is a good thing, when warranted. But when you push too far, the consequences can be great.
I know most of us like to game the system where we can: it’s part of the allure of miles and points. By that I mean we will take advantage of promotions and policies that benefit us, sometimes in a way that actually makes our “loyalty” a liability and not and asset.
Let me give you example: Faster Free Nights with Hyatt. During the last recession, Hyatt ran one of the most generous promotions we’ve ever seen. Two stays at any Hyatt hotel translated into a free night certificate good for any Hyatt hotel worldwide. What did the smart people do? Check into cheap U.S. properties (and sometimes check right back out and not even enter the room) in order to amass free nights for more lucrative properties. One night at a $79 Hyatt Place plus one night across town at an $85 Hyatt House netted a free night that could be used to stay at the Park Hyatt Paris (which can run over 800EUR/night). It just made sense.
I took advantage of that promotion to stay for free at Park Hyatt properties in Beijing and Shanghai, saving literally hundreds of dollars. Gold Passport (now called World of Hyatt) paid the hotel a set amount when a customer used a free night voucher. Although the rate was discounted over what the public pays, Hyatt still “lost” money on me…it is one reason why we do not see that promotion any longer.
But I simply took advantage of the promotion. My actions were not illegal and not even unethical. I just exploited a good deal. It’s called gaming the system.
And yet sometimes we push too far.
Hilton Horror Story: The Risk of Excessive Complaints
LoyaltyLobby offers a fascinating look into the mindset of Hilton Customer service. I think this reflects the customer service outlook of many hotels and airlines, and is therefore quite instructive.
A man in Poland tried to game the system. He stayed in cheap properties during lucrative point promotions and complained about roughly half his stays, receiving bonus compensation that erased much of the revenue of his stays.
Apparently a Hampton Inn outside of Krakow did not like his complaints and alerted Hilton Honors, perhaps noting that the man was likely making things up to complain about in order to score free points.
One night he noticed his account was locked. He reached out to Hilton and was told his account had been shutdown. He protested and asked Hilton to investigate. They did and found that not only did he have two Hilton accounts, but that in one account loyalty compensation represented 92% of revenue spend!
The letter ends with a very polite middle finger from Hilton:
Based on the amount of compensation that has been extended to you against the total revenue spend at our hotels, we ask that you seek accommodations at another hotel chain as it is clear that we are unable to meet your expectations.
Here’s the thing–his second account was discovered after his first account had already been shut down so it wasn’t having two accounts (in contravention of program rules) that was the reason for his shutdown. It was too many complaints.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking advantage of lucrative promotions or complaining. But pick your fights wisely: when you become a chronic complainer, you risk losing a lot more than the alleged service lapse you complain about.
(H/T: Rapid Travel Chai)