We have decided to revisit the topic of hotels scamming with room rate currency conversions which we previously looked at in Indonesia and Brazil.
If the booked currency differs from the settlement one, you should always check that the conversions are done using the correct rate and not an inflated one that can benefit the hotel anywhere from 5% to 10%.
Here are the worst offenders during my Colombia trip:
The rate was off by 7.2%. I have stayed at this hotel several times previously, and it has always been adjusted after a brief conversation. However, they did push back more this time, claiming that the exchange rate used was “mandated” by Hilton.
I got the usual Medallia Survey after the stay where I noted the issue with the incorrect rate used, and the GM replied:
Likewise, we want you to know that we understand your annoyance with the exchange rate that the Hotel manages, however, it is important to clarify that the national policy allows a margin of difference between the market exchange rate and the Hotel’s own exchange rate. At no time has it been our intention to offend or scam you as you mention, therefore, the rate was adjusted to the market rate.
So, the General Manager, Mr. Eugene, agrees that they don’t use the live rate but one that gives them a “margin.”
JW Marriott Bogota
Let me start by saying that I like this hotel a lot and, while their fantastic lounge is closed, they provide the F&B benefits and then some at the open restaurant.
The exchange rate used on the first stay was off by 11.5%. It has never been too much of an issue getting it fixed with this property, and on my second stay a couple of weeks later, they were using the correct rate for my folio.
The W Bogota rate was off by 9.1%.
Hotels with no to small FX issues:
- Hilton Bogota Corferias – rate within 1%.
- Hyatt Regency Cartagena – the rate was off by 3% to 4% but I let it slide.
- Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena – the rate was exactly as it should have been.
- DoubleTree Bogota Parque 93 – almost correct off by roughly 1%.
Most hotels in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia now display their rates in local currencies instead of the USD that was more prevalent in the past, although there are still some holdouts.
Hotels that mainly cater to overseas visitors can “enhance” their bottom line by using a fake exchange rate when converting these displayed rates to the charged currency. They are well aware of what is going on.
There is absolutely no reason for this scam that the Hilton and Marriott hotels in Colombia were engaging in, and I am surprised that corporate allows this to continue.
If the rate is off by up to 3%, I usually let it slide. When it is off by anywhere from 4% to 11%, I will spend some time with the front desk to have it adjusted, and no hotel has ever, in the end, refused to do so.
We contacted both Hilton and Marriott spokespersons but didn’t get a definite word from either of them why they allow it. Do they similarly fake the franchise and other fees too?
Properties count that guests are financially illiterate, on expense accounts, unable to use a calculator, or afraid of asking for the rare to be corrected.
Have you come across this and what you have done to rectify it?