mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

All inclusive or nickle and dimed?

Two and a half weeks ago, I went to Vegas for a conference. It was my first time in Vegas, and it made me think about, among other things, pricing structures.

I don't travel much, but I have had the opportunity a couple of times to go for various training for work, and the last couple times I've stayed at "business class" hotels - a Marriott Residence Inn and a Courtyard, specifically. Both places gave you as much stuff as possible - free breakfast, free coffee and tea, use of a gym (one had an exercise room, one had a deal with a gym across the street), fridge in the room, ect. All small things, but they make your stay more enjoyable.

Despite a room rate that was twice what those hotels charged, though, staying at the Palazzo was different. Everything was extra - use of the gym and spa was $40 a DAY, a price I couldn't bring myself to pay despite my desire to keep in shape - especially since the college gym I go to, which includes a pool and rock wall just like theirs, costs me $30.. a MONTH. It has better hours, too. They had the obligatory mini-bar, plus snacks and bottled water on the dresser to upsell you.

Another example - I rented a car the last day. Not only did they try to sell me insurance, they asked if I wanted "full coverage or just liability" even though I wasn't required to get any. I did get the liability- I am a pretty shitty driver - and it cost about 50% of what the rate for renting the car was.

With a little thought, there are a ton of other fees and upsells we encounter every day, from extended warranties at Best Buy to cookies at Starbucks to baggage fees from airlines. And I'm really not sure how I feel about them.

As a consumer, I don't like when they sneak up on me - when I discover that to have something I want, it's going to cost me way more than I thought it would. However, I can also get some pretty good deals when I can buy the cheap item and say no to all the add-ons. As someone who minored in econ as an undergrad, I love them - they are a great example of price discrimination, where companies find ways to charge more money to people who are willing to pay more and less to people who aren't, and wouldn't buy their product at the higher price.

I do suspect I could make a bunch of money opening a gym on or near the Las Vegas strip that offered daily use for $15 a day or so, though.


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