Some friends from Germany recently visited the U.S. for the first time. We were happy that their first stop was Chicago. It was good to see them and it provided an opportunity to show off the city. They were impressed with Lake Michigan’s beautiful shoreline, restaurants, the museums and the architecture.
The one negative comment they expressed was, when purchasing something, the price was more at check out than what was posted or tagged. Also, they were surprised that extra charges for their hotel were not included in the original reservation.
“Sales and hotel tax,” I said. I also explained taxes varied by city and state, and by certain items like food, drinks and medicine. “Americans are just used to it. We call it being ‘nickeled and dimed’.”
Two articles crossed my desk recently. Not earth-shattering, world impact stuff, but enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up a little. The first article was about Marriott openly urging guests to tip the hotel cleaning staff.
I get it, and when traveling, I do make it a habit to leave a little something for the folks who clean up after me. When more hangers or towels are needed, or a service worker goes out of their way to take care of a special request, that extra effort should be rewarded.
As the article explains, here was a large corporation admitting that in order to keep their costs down, they were relying on customers to pony up more cash on the back end. Yeah, what’s a couple of extra bucks a day? It might be nickels and dimes to Marriott, but it starts to add up to their guests. What was always viewed as an option (tipping) is being turned into ‘shame on you if you don’t’.
Guess what? It’s also happening in the trade show and exhibit world. Just when conventions and meetings are starting to pick up again, this article shows up.
We’ve seen it before, certain general contractors charging a fee to use an EAC (exhibitor appointed contractor) at an event they are managing. It happens infrequently, but I would hate to see it become a standard practice. Hats off to the E2MA (Exhibit and Event Marketers Association) and Exhibit City News for reporting and publicizing the issue.
It’s difficult enough to establish and follow budgets for an event. When after-the-fact fees and charges pop up, it adds to the frustration of the exhibitor and their vendor partners, and fuels the notion that our industry is one filled with hidden and unpredictable charges.
So, before we get accustomed to special taxes or surcharges, we need to continually question these types of fees. While it is understandable that some costs cannot be determined up front, I don’t see a problem as long as estimated costs are clearly identified and not hidden.
Being ‘nickeled and dimed’ time and time again can overshadow an overall positive experience, and leave a lasting impression. Just ask our friends from Germany.