Is It Necessarily Immoral to Use Corporate Rates Unethically?

What is life if not a never-ending series of moral dilemmas – particularly when it comes to travel.

Nicole Q faced one such dilemma head-on recently when booking a hotel for a trip to visit a client (henceforth referred to as Client B). She has a favorite hotel in the area that she wanted to book, but the rate was 25% higher than her company would allow. However … she has another corporate client (Client A) in the same area that offers a corporate rate at the hotel, which would bring the rate down sufficiently.

Now, as Nicole Q isn’t visiting Client A she didn’t consider using that rate. But then…

The hotel reservations did not want to offer me a price within my company’s policy, but suggested – kind of off-the-record – that I could use the corporate rate of Client A, if I wanted to.

 

This sounds attractive, but I would not want my Client A to know I’m using their rates. So, here is my question:

 

Do hotels usually report to their corporate clients who uses these rates and when?

So attractive is the lure of a 25% discount that is has Nicole Q wondering if she might be able to get away with this, possibly minor, moral transgression.

Fellow travelers overwhelmingly advise against it:

Personally, I would never do anything that may compromise the integrity of a client. It could result in anything from embarrassment to losing your client, even losing your job if it went far enough. ~KVE1005

Nicole, if you don’t want them to know, don’t do it. I don’t think you’ve asked the right question, to be frank, you should ask yourself what will happen if they do find out…

 

Persist in asking the hotel to give you a lower rate, pay the difference yourself or use another hotel. I wouldn’t take the risk. ~RojBlake

Jeopardising a client for a few bucks doesn’t make sense to me. ~Swissdiver

Not everyone sees the dilemma in such black-and-white terms however:

Mostly it depends on the elite level you have with the hotel. They can and do check affiliation at check-in commonly if you have no status. When I was coached by a reservations agent and I asked about proof of affiliation I was told “Sir. We do not ask or frequent customers.” ~GeoMedic

Corporate rates are not so magic. Nobody really cares. Often it pays to ask for a corporate rate even if your company doesn’t have one. On checking in I was once offered to take advantage of the corporate rate. The clerk told me I just had to produce any business card, not even mine. ~Jean-Pierre D

I don’t actually think the corporation would care if you use their rates. That just means more room nights under their name so more leverage in future negotiation. It’s the hotel that cares about such misuse. ~Sammyfloyd

Obviously the safest route for Nicole Q would be to refuse the hotel’s offer to use Client A’s corporate rate. But what would you suggest she do? Have you used corporate rates “inappropriately” when booking hotels? And, if so, how did it work out … and did/do you feel morally deficient?

Read the thread in its entirety: Using someone else’s corporate rate…

immoral woman” by CHRIS DRUMM. CC BY 2.0

Comments

  1. @Gene – I suppose that would depend almost entirely on whether the corporation in question generated its profits from the selling of immorality. For example, you could probably ethically do pretty much whatever you want in a hotel room booked on the corporate rate of Girls Gone Wild, PokerStars.com … or AIG 😉

  2. You can decide if using a corporate rate is immoral or unethical. It’s certainly not illegal.

    I do work for a large corporation and use our corporate rate for work and personal travel. I’ve never been asked for any proof, only my Credit Card and sometimes my driver’s license to match my name with my Credit Card.

    According to an insider, they will only ask for proof for government rates as they usually have low rates + breakfast.

    And there are a lot of other rates you can use:

    – some credit card companies let you use their corp rates. They’ll even give you the code to use

    – if you are an AAA member or Costco member, you may have better rates.

    And by the way, if you call and ask for the best rate, you’ll get the lowest published rate. Instead ask “What is the absolute lowest rate you can offer?” and make sure you are speaking to the Hotel directly, often you call front desk and they send you to central reservations. Ask if this is the Hotel directly as they have better rates.

    And sometimes they have “hidden rates”. I was in Hawaii connecting and needed a room for 5 hours, they insisted I pay for a full night. I was walking away to go to another hotel and they stopped me and said, “oh, I just found a Nite Owl rate I can offer you”

    Good Luck !

    Insane Travel

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