PGP: MGM Hates Your Travel Agent, Too
MGM Resorts International, owners of Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, New York New York and Vdara, have made a lot of waves lately via their Profit Growth Plan, a company program designed to increase corporate profits by cutting costs, optimizing services, adding fees, instituting variable pricing models and limiting offerings.
One could say that the Profit Growth Plan started with the institution of resort fees roughly five years ago. Resort fees were explained as a way to make MGM property price points more appealing in the listings on 3rd party travel websites. A surely unintended byproduct of this program (yes, sarcasm) was MGM would reap more profit from room bookings by paying lower fees to 3rd party retailers and recouping the rest by charging the balance of the loss/leakage to their guests upon arrival. But... hey... you get to print out your boarding pass and make free local phone calls! Hello? Can I speak with Carrot Top?
Now, as part of MGM's profit growth plan, the company intends to realize further income by asking customers to help them put a boot on the neck of 3rd party travel retailers. The target? The 15% cut MGM pays to Expedia Inc. (Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, Travelocity, Orbitz etc), Priceline Group (Priceline.com, Kayak, Booking.com, Agoda, OpenTable) and even family-owned shops like Jadd Fong Travel in north east Albquerque, New Mexico.
This weekend, MGM filed a trademark application for the slogan:
PLAY THE SMART HAND. BOOK DIRECT
MGM is appealing to you, the consumers, to help them give Expedia, Priceline and Jadd Fong Travel a swift kick in the nuts. Never mind that they've replaced the fancy Gilchrist & Soames quality toiletries with generic brands, charge you an extra dollar for beers on Friday and Saturday nights, stopped comping the decent booze and in favor of the cheap stuff... MGM needs your help!
So you don't want to help MGM smack down Expedia? Are you sure? Allll riiiight....
VegasTripping has learned that MGM Resorts International is going to begin penalizing guests who book via third parties, not by direct confrontation but by withholding services and - ding ding ding you guessed it - adding fees!
Here's an example: in the case of a guest who books via third party retailer, should the guest be forced into late cancellation or be a no-show for their reservation, they will be charged a much larger cancellation fee than if they booked directly with MGM. Prices could range from a larger percentage of entire stay, the entirety of the first day, or make them pay for the whole trip.
This policy will not exist for customers who play the smart hand and book direct. "If you book with us, we won't kick you in the nuts when you late cancel. Actually, we're still going to kick you in the nuts, just not as hard."
The exact details of these "threatened fees" are unknown.
Should MGM move forward with this new policy, it is only one small step away from instituting an airline-inspired "non-refundable" or "no cancellations" line item on third party travel agent websites.
Simultaneously with the filing of the "Play The Smart Hand. Book Direct." trademark application was this Reddit AMA featuring Q&A with a revenue analyst for a major Las Vegas casino corporation (pick one, there are only two) who says "I set the room rates for the Las Vegas Strip... ask me how to snag a deal or ask me anything."
Mr. Reddit AMA offers advice at the outset, the third line of which ends in an eerily similar shout cap refrain:
Book directly though the hotels website! BOOK DIRECT! BOOK DIRECT!
Despite being a firm believer in cosmic timing, I don't believe in serendipity, particularly when it comes to the casino industry. Props to MGM revenue analyst guy for getting the MGM message out and playing Reddit like a cheap violin.
Big thanks to JohnnyJiggles and MissMonkay for the tips.
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