Travel firms don’t cooperate to overcome difficulties

The owner of a travel company in HCM City, which specializing in serving travelers from North America, said he has told his officer not to book hotel rooms soon, 3 or 4 months in advance. He said it would be better to book rooms just some days in advance, because the hotel room rates may fluctuate.

“Just inform the hotels that we have some guests and the room rates we can accept. If the hotels don’t accept the rates we offer, say goodbye to them,” he told the officer.

It’s now the buyers’ market, i.e. that travel firms, which control the sources of travelers, would decide the hotel room rates and services.

In fact, the war between hotels and travel firms has been lasting for the last many years. They have been denouncing each other of putting difficulties for others to obtain high profit.

In 2005-2007, travel firms complained that 4-5 star hotels in Hanoi and HCM City continuously raised the hotel room rates spontaneously. Especially, hotels even broke the contracts signed before with travel firms, unilaterally increased the hotel room rates in the high season. The hotels would reserve rooms for businessmen or foreign travelers who accepted higher rates, even though the rooms had been reserved before.

As a result, a lot of foreign travel firms decided to stop selling tours to Vietnam in 2008 and 2009 due to the high price risks.

Pham Manh Ha, director of a travel firm, has decided to provide information about travelers to several accommodation service providers in the same localities.

Ha said travel firms have been put under a hard pressure when the partners try to force the prices down. “They ask for higher service levels, but don’t accept to pay more money and want to make payment later,” he explained.

Talking about the efforts by travel firms to force the hotel room rates down, Ha said that the money to be collected from the hotel room rate discounts would be divided to the involved partners, while it would not be pocketed by travel firms.

Scrambling for travelers – the only way to exist

Travel firms understand that they have to lower the tour fees, or they would lose clients. And they also think that in order to survive the current difficulties, they need to force the input service fees down.

A lot of hotels, which have been thirsty for clients, have accepted to lower the hotel room rates.

Vu Hoang Anh, Director of a travel firm in Hanoi, said some 3-4 star hotels in Hanoi have offered the room rate discounts of 10-20 percent. A five star hotel near the Hoan Kiem Lake in the central area of Hanoi has also slashed the room rate from $200 to $175.

Especially, travel firms can negotiate with hotels to obtain the discounts of $3-5 for 3-4 star room and $5-10 for 5-star room.

However, Anh said, foreign travelers, when considering the tours to Asia, still find it more expensive to book the tours to Vietnam.

He also said that hotels are not professional with their pricing policies. The travelers from the US and Europe always book tours 3-6 months before the departure time. However, hotels only offer preferential room rates 1-2 months in advance, which means that the tourists cannot enjoy the preferences.