Hotel Online  Special Report

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 Some Consumer Advocacy Groups Calling for Regulations Forcing
Hotels to Offer Flexible Check-in and Check-out Times
and Rates for their Clients
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March 2006 - At the last meeting of the of the International Organization for Standardization Consumer Policy Committee (ISO - COPOLCO) held in Toronto, Canada in 2005, COPOLCO called for the hotel industry to abandon its fixed check-in and check out times indicating that consumers should be charged only for the amount of time spent in a hotel room. For example, if a client checks in at midnight and leaves at 6am the next morning, COPOLCO proposes that a client only be charged for a 6-hour stay instead of a full night’s hotel accommodation, “Instead of fixed check-in and check-out time, which invariably affect the consumers adversely, the consumers should be charged on the 24 hourly basis i.e. his check in time should start from the time he actually checks-in a hotel and finishes when he leaves that hotel. It is believed that such a standard policy, which should be made compulsory for the hotel industry to follow, will go a long way in protecting the interests of tourists/consumers."

IH&RA, serving as the industry’s international watchdog, steadfastly opposes this initiative which would have the adverse affect of harming the consumers…but how?

Imposed Standards Mean More Expense to the Consumer – Not Less

If hotels were imposed such a “standard”, the immediate effect would be an increase in rates – not a decrease. This is immediately obvious to any hotelier – but not obvious to consumer groups and standards organizations. This is precisely why IH&RA opposes international standards by organizations and policy agencies that do not understand the intricacies of the hotel business. Currently, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is engaged in a full blown campaign to draft “standards for tourism services” just as they currently propose standards for consumer products like cars and dishwashing detergents…it does not work for service industries that are unique and variable depending on location and the type of clients that they serve. 

IH&RA is vehemently opposed to Standards for Tourism Services and will take this message to the next meeting of ISO to be held in Tunisia on March 27-28 2006.

Why Hotels are Opposed to Hourly Rates

Fixed check-in / check-out times proposed by hotels are in the interest of the consumer as they ensure proper functioning of hotel operations - from housekeeping to safety and security. If hotels are mandated to check-in and check-out customers at all hours of the day – and charge them for their stay accordingly – rates would sky rocket to cover fixed costs associated with round-the-clock housekeeping, front office and back office personnel.

The hotel industry has a fixed checked-in / check-out time policy that works well in the interest of their clients. Consumer Groups should also recognize that the majority of all hotels are already flexible with early check-in and late check-out requests based on the occupancy of the hotel.

This flexibility is more or less dependent on the individual property – some hotels located by airports, train stations or auto routes already do offer flexible rates based on a 24-hour clock – but this should not be a sweeping policy applied to the entire industry at large.

Every hotel is different and this is why blanket standards for tourism services (as is being proposed by the International Organization for Standardization) do not work. Some hotels cater to business travelers – some to leisure travelers. Some hotels cater to clients that arrive individually while others cater to groups that arrive by boat or for a week’s ski vacation with a Saturday check-in and check-out.

Hotel Industry Is Proactive

The hotel industry is in the business of providing the best possible service to its clients all of whom are themselves unique: Some arrive late and depart early; Some arrive early and depart late. On the operations side, cleaning and servicing the rooms depends on the flow of traffic which is different from hotel to hotel and resort to resort.

What hotels & restaurants can do

IH&RA is calling on all national hotel associations, hotel groups and individual operators to write to their national standardization offices to oppose such initiatives as Standards for Tourism Services by the deadline of 20 March. These standards, although deemed “voluntary”, could become used as reference for the creation of national legislation and additional standards for the hospitality industry – flexible check-in and check-out just one.

IH&RA has a prepared template lobbying letter available on its website (www.ih-ra.com) along with information and contact details of the standards organization in your country. Go on-line today.

To voice your opinion in this matter and join the fight against costly standards for the tourism industry, write to: Elizabeth Carroll-Simon, Director Industry Affairs and International Relations at: ecsimon@ih-ra.com

What our members have to say
 

“At Conrad hotels check-in/check-out times are defined within our 'Conrad Culture Service Standards' and they differ for a business hotel or a resort hotel, meaning that we recognize the need to adapt our company standards to customers' behaviours. This works well and we obviously make exceptions upon request and availability, and also for our most loyal customers. We are not keen on being dictated any other standards as again our system works well and with no recorded complaints related to these C/I, C/O times.” 
Thierry Durand, Vice President Sales & Distribution
Conrad Hotels
“Carlson hotels opposes any standardization of the check in and check out policy domestically and globally. We need to maintain flexibility to accommodate our guests. Check in and check out is really driven by natural market demand and locale, we even have it as a preference option in Express Yourself. Also our international hotels have established procedures in gateway cities to handle earlier check in’s as international flights arrive and have been complimented by our customers in accommodating them right when they arrive. Standardization of check in and check out times does not allow us to serve the best needs of our customers.” 
Nancy Johsnon, Executive Vice President, Brand Leader
Carlson Hotels Worldwide


Founded in 1946, the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA – www.ih-ra.com) is the only global business organization representing the hospitality industry worldwide. Its members are national hotel and restaurant associations, international and national hotel and restaurant chains, independent operators and worldwide partners including hospitality suppliers, consultants, educators and the media. Officially recognized by the United Nations, IH&RA is an active international observer that identifies threats, sends early warning signals and mounts opposition to all initiatives that could lead to costly legislation and unnecessary regulation for this industry.
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Contact:

International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA)
Summer Jauneaud
Director of Communications
Phone: + 33 1 4488 9224
Email: jauneaud@ih-ra.com
 http://www.ih-ra.com

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Also See: David McMillan Named Chief Executive Officer of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association / December 2004
John Bell Assumes Presidency of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association / December 2003

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