Our Guest Experience with Triple-room Bookings

Years of staying at various categories of hotels and service apartments around the world, and despite the availability of technology, one thing that never seem to change is that booking three guests to a room remains as tricky as ever.

Some hotels simply do not accept three guests to a room (extra bed or not). They fail to mention this outright, however, causing the guests to find out only after going through the booking procedure.  The hope is that somehow, the guests end up booking two rooms.

And then, hotels that allows three to a room, with an increased room rate, often make it rather complicated for the guests to figure out if extra bed is included or not.  Often, we were expected to squeeze on beds that comfortably sleeps only 2, unless an extra bed, which can be up to an added cost of USS$80 or more, is ordered.  Which means that the increase shown in the rate for a triple room over that of a double, was meant to cover only the admission of one more guest, and not to mean the inclusion of an extra bed. 

Besides the extra bed, there is still the interpretation of whether two or three breakfasts would be included if the breakfast option is chosen.  Outside of the bundled breakfast rate, any top-up for the third guests is usually priced rather steep, making it more meaningful to eat outside the hotel.

It doesn’t matter if the booking is made directly or via hotel booking sites.  A lot of different replies would ensue, and over-ruling would occur even after the guests check in.  Twice though, there turn out to be an extra layer of protection booking via hotel-booking sites.  The sites had already addressed our queries, clarified and confirm in writing.  Upon check-in, although the hotel staff gave another interpretation of what is included for the third person in the room, they choose to give in, rather than make the call to clarify with their agents.

Once in the room, we find that it is not uncommon for Housekeeping, despite reminders, to place only toiletries and bedding meant for two, leaving the third person wondering if they should have brought along a sleeping bag.  Call for service becomes a norm, and sometime a chore.

You’d have thought that with so many guests, and after so many years, the hotels would have stream-lined these options and make the selection organised and systematic.  But no.  The guests still have to hassle over it, which can make the AirBNB option more attractive.

Salespeople Who Are Bad For Business

Many are still avoiding Sim Lim Square because of its notoriety, especially after the Jover Chew saga that occurred in 2014.

Since then, authorities have set up measures to combat recalcitrant retailer, whose list of dishonest tactics run the gamut, from Overcharging, Threats and Intimidation, Faulty Goods, Misleading Claims, Pirated Goods to outright Scams.

The Jover Chew case, however, doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to errant retailers.  They simply close shop and open up under another name elsewhere.

One of them has apparently opened up at HarbourFront Centre.  After a cruise, our delegates popped into a shop there to view, and not finding the items required, turned to leave.  The salesman unleashed a hailstorm of insults that didn’t stop even after they reached the opposite side of the mall.

This makes shopping dangerous because the provocation can be insulting enough to cause the customer to react.  All might end up in a fight.

The best defence is for the consumer to be aware and on their guard.  Even at some reputable malls, some unprofessional sales behaviour persists that turns off the tourist spending.

Our friends at TripAdvisor provide an important avenue for sharing tips among travellers.

Here are some of our own encounters when we accompanied delegates to shop around areas close to the MICE venues in Singapore:-

#1: Customers grew a tail 

There’s a reason why Ikea becomes a billion-dollar empire: they allow their customers to browse in peace.  Don’t other store owners ever take a leaf from that?

We hate stores where a salesperson immediately hit on us the moment one foot crosses their threshold.

At one furniture store, one salesperson was heard commenting to his colleague: “Your turn!”  Apparently, all walk-ins are fishes to be hooked, and the sales staff had a system where they take a fair turn at being fisherman. We were tailed so closely, and in such a determined fashion, that we felt compelled to move super quick around the rather big store, and out the exit door (since turning back means being blocked by a gang of staring salespersons out to see how good a business we could be).

Tip:  When the only way to find release from this kind of sales pressure is to get out, do so.  Especially when their faces doesn’t seem to welcome customers who end up with no purchases.

#2: Pestering Salesperson

It is stressful shopping when we could not lay eyes on any items without the salesperson shooing us into a sale – or out the door.  It is also impossible to compare various brands of the same product, with a salesperson hovering over our necks, giving his pitch.

Our delegate got great satisfaction telling the salesperson: “Could you at least allow us to think?”

Tip: These days, we request that no salesperson accompanies us when we want to browse in peace. We seek their help only when required. 

#3: Customers hunted as preys  

When opinions are sought for, we don’t mind hearing from different salespersons.

Customers are deprived when a salesperson stops another colleague from offering more information which the attending salesperson was unable to provide.  By blocking useful communication from his colleague, he made us feel like preys since ensuring his commission was more important to him.

Tip: Customers have the freedom to choose whom they prefer to be served, and to reject a salesperson for a more knowledgeable one.

#4: Salesperson counting the eggs 

Likable and proficient in demonstrating the product, this friendly salesperson did all the right moves pre-sale.  So our delegate placed a hefty deposit.

Assuming that the sale was certain, he became careless. Instead of addressing further queries we have on the product, he repeated empty reassurances of “Don’t worry, it’s all good!”  But the issue was not one of worry, rather one of requiring more in-depth details about the product, especially since the delegate is flying off soon.  Happy and breezy, he strode up and down like a peacock, announcing to his colleagues that he has just secured a major sale.  Queries repeated.  But it was impossible to get him to focus. It became obvious that the salesman thought his commission was secured, and counting the eggs before they were hatched.

The customer didn’t like the feeling of being left to hang after someone thinks he has been successfully hooked.  He withdrew the sale by obtaining a refund on the deposit with the store cashier.  Alerted by the cashier, the store manager offered a further discount, and assigned a different salesperson to address his queries.

Tip: Change the salesperson.  Or obtain a refund.  Products can develop issues after a purchase.  Salespersons who are dedicated professionals make a difference when they are there for the customer long after a product is purchased.

#5: Bias in the salesperson’s motivation  

We gave repeated business to salespersons who are motivated by the challenge of matching the best solutions to the customer’s needs.

Imagine how one delegate felt when a salesperson thanked him for the sale and for making him a record-breaker among his peers.  He would now gain prominence with his superiors and dealers in the industry for being the first to get a customer to buy the newly released and still highly priced product.

Somehow, when he put it that way, it introduced a certain bias into his motivation.  The delegate felt that the salesperson’s choice brand recommendation was not objective.

We went to another mall and bought an alternative brand that performs just as good at half the price.

Tip: Guard against sales commission bias during purchase.

#6: The salesperson’s body language

This sole dealership’s showroom carries a range so wide that this time, we require professional advice.  The salesperson displayed efficient knowledge of the product range, providing clear explanation and samples.

Everything seems fine, sales-wise.  But something seems off in his demeanour that made us feel like not giving the sale to him.  Whatever reason he may have for doing it so often, and so obviously, it was intrusive and hard to ignore.

The products were top-end, and with his judgment making sense, our delegate proceeded to make a purchase.  Unexpectedly, when the invoice was being raised, he suddenly stop the salesperson, unable to go on.  It wasn’t the buyers’ failure to make the decision.  The delegate was an extremely busy person, and wouldn’t have made the trip except for a strong intent to buy.

It was just that, while raising the invoice, the salesperson turned his wrist over  – yet again – to look at his watch.  The delegate knew then, that this irritating habit would pop up in his mind every time he uses the product.  An unpleasantry he wished to avoid.

Tip:  Avoid unpleasant salesperson from the outright, if there is a choice.  We have used products that triggers bad reminders of how it was procured.  Not nice.

#7: The Market Leader’s Sales Tactic Flop

A market leader for decades, there is this brand with their top-of-the-line products that literally sells by itself, so the salesperson would have you know.

What is unusual is that the brand’s HQ chose to sell its product in Singapore through just one salesman in the electronic store that was appointed to display the product range.

Out of the many salespeople who usually have to compete against one another, only this blessed one can speak for the product and earn its sales commission.  Not even a relief salesperson.  During his off timings, the product would simply not be represented until he was back.

Not surprisingly, vested with such authority by a major brand leader, the salesperson arrogantly replied that he has no need to give a discount, since even his boss has no say over him because of the brand’s marketing agreement.

The product was priced at a huge premium over the retail listing in other countries. The delegate decided to buy the product when he fly out to another city.

Tip:  A monopolistic appointment is not favourable for a customer. Buy from another country, or from parallel importers. More and more e-commerce merchants who understand the psychology of buyers are offering same day pick up or delivery of goods ordered online.  This avenue has become increasingly popular over the past year for busy delegates.

There are good salesperson and various sales avenue for every product sold.  Walk away from the hustlers.