I often see people online who are concerned about using the corporate rate because they feel that the hotel will ask for proof of identity at check-in to confirm eligibility for the corporate rate discount. I find that many people ask these types of questions and there are many people who reply on online forums that they need ID to use the corporate rate. However, my experience is very different and I believe it is purely a matter of ethics in the event that you are not eligible to use a particular rate. No one is likely to catch you (and no one has an incentive to catch you). On the other hand, it is a question of the ethical standards you have in your personal and professional life.
During my career I have enjoyed corporate rates at hotels in many different capacities: sometimes I was an actual employee of the company negotiating the discounted rate, so I had a business card and other forms of identification. However, for most of my career I have used corporate rates as a consultant, contractor, supplier or client of a company that has a contract with the hotel chain. As a result, I do not have any form of identification and sometimes the details of my relationship with the company that booked my room are confidential. In any case, these details are not the business of the hotel receptionist.
Usually I am asked to provide proof of company identification, less than 10% of the time when I make a booking using company rates. When I am a genuine employee I usually show my business card, but when I am a contractor or supplier I simply say yes. No further details are required. Usually my response to a request for a company ID to prove my relationship with the company holding the hotel chain contract is: “Sorry, I’m a contractor/supplier/customer”. Not once was I asked any additional questions or questioned further.
The truth is that the hotel chains themselves have no interest in qualifying for the survey because their business and profitability is all about occupancy. Their primary goal is to fill properties. It’s an old pricing game. Let’s take an example. If we’re talking about a hotel that charges $300 per night, they’ll happily sell rooms to fill their property for $150, as long as the guests they’re paying $300 per night don’t know about it. For this reason, sites like Hotwire are successful. hotwire allows hotels to sell rooms at a big discount, increasing occupancy rates without losing profit to price insensitive customers who are willing to pay the rack rate to stay at that particular place anyway. Therefore, for the same reason, they are more than happy to accept guests who book at a discounted rate through a corporate deal. In addition, corporate guests book directly with the hotel, either over the phone or on the hotel’s website, so the hotel is able to save on the commission they would normally pay to a travel site such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Booking.com or any other. Commissions are very expensive, usually between 15-25%. Therefore, offering a similar discount to corporate clients makes complete business sense for hotel chains.
The only situation when hotels are not happy to let guests book rooms at the corporate discounted rate is when they are pretty sure that the entire hotel will be fully booked anyway, for example, at certain locations during holidays or large conventions. You can tell this immediately from the hotel’s website, as the website will not accept corporate codes and you will only be left with the rack rate.
So, should you be worried about being kicked out of your hotel? From my considerable experience, no. Am I suggesting you use corporate rates that you are not entitled to? Not at all, but purely because I don’t think it’s ethical. However, I am suggesting that you find out if you are eligible to take advantage of corporate rates because very often you do not need to be an employee of the company that has a contract with the hotel. Contractors, consultants, suppliers and customers are often eligible too.