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Two tier hotel pricing

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In hotels in China, is there one price for 'foreigners' and one price for local Chinese in the same hotel and same room?

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ChTTay

I’ve never seen it as blatant as that on hotel signs that advertise prices. The cheaper, budget type where you drop in and pay if you need to (near stations, airports etc) always just have one price. It can be cheaper online (for everyone).

 

I know that different online platforms offer different prices sometimes. A lot of people find Qunar cheaper than other apps. However, I’ve found they’re just the same price but they add different costs on later. The first price you see is cheaper but it adds up. 

 

Maybe in super touristy spots they’ve started this but I’ve never seen it. 

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889

China's a big country, so if you look hard enough you can probably find an example of just about anything.

 

But the general rule today is no separate pricing for foreigners, and that includes hotels. Sometimes you'll see different prices for the same hotel on the English/Chinese versions of ctrip, etc., but when you look closely you'll see that maybe the rooms or payment options are different.

 

The real problem is that cheaper hotel options are often off-limits because of no-foreigner policies. That's what makes travel for foreigners more expensive, and much more a hassle.

 

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ChTTay
49 minutes ago, 889 said:

The real problem is that cheaper hotel options are often off-limits because of no-foreigner policies.

I’ve only ever found this in really out of the way places though. Like I was in this small town in Henan once and there were no hotels available online... I did panic a bit. In actuality there were 4 hotels available that could register foreigners.  While they were expensive by local standards they were still pretty cheap. I found them by asking a taxi driver for an “international hotel” and he took me to one. They were full but told me all the hotels that could accept me in that town. 

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DavyJonesLocker

well  if you look at the same hotel, same room, same night on a domestic app and a Western app (ebookers, last minute etc) they are always cheaper on the  domestic app ( 支付宝, 去哪儿 ) .

Actually it's a good way to check what hotels can accept foreigners for registration . 

I booked one a month ago and worked out well. I just had to phone the hotel to say I was going to stay and they told me to use any Chinese ID on the booking app as they weren't set up for foreign passports numbers. 

 

This was Beijing so no idea if it's a good strategy elsewhere. 

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ChTTay
11 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Actually it's a good way to check what hotels can accept foreigners for registration . 

Yes! I was looking at Trip on the above and it had no hits. Worrying! 

1 hour ago, 889 said:

Seriously, this is a problem everywhere in China. Everywhere.

China's a big country, so if you look hard enough you can probably find an example of just about anything.

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889

More than a mere example or two. The rarity is finding a cheap hotel that will take you. Just try right there in Beijing finding a cheaper hotel that will take you. Try around QIanmen, for example, where there are plenty of cheap hotels.

 

Good luck!

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mungouk

I've just booked a couple of hotels in Beijing using online platforms that I've used many times before.  

I was surprised to find during online payment that the initially-quoted prices didn't include additional "local taxes" of around 10-20%. 

I'm wondering now whether these are applied to locals, or only to foreigners.

 

 

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889

If you look at the fine print, those aren't usually real taxes, but some various fees called "taxes" to make them sound better. Airlines play this game, too.

 

The online sites vary on this, and change their policies over time. But at one point, rates on the English and Chinese versions of some of the booking sites varied. However, one version simply quoted rates without the later "taxes" add-ons while the other initially quoted all-in rates. So both versions were actually charging the same total rates.

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carlo

I remember some years ago there was also a difference in prices for foreigners with a work / residence permit and for those without. The former would get the "local" rate, at least according to the person in my company who would book the hotels for me (I had a Chinese work permit at the time). I currently live in HK, so no longer benefit from this, assuming it's still a "rule".

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Flickserve

Thanks all.

 

The issue came up at a conference and the hotel was booked on my behalf. I checked in and the receptionist said the price per night was 280rmb. Confirmed it twice with Chinese and English verbally, not written. But when I checked out, the charge was 430rmb per night.

 

Various theories were put forward including this differential price but that one seems very much a rarity now. I can only conclude the first price was given in error by someone inexperienced.

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ouyangjun

Short answer:

Not common if booking through hotels.  Never actually ran into this via hotel booking in 10 years of living in China.

Common if using travel portals like Qunar where great deals happen when booking through agents.

 

More info:

If using Qunar to do your booking you will often come across good deals on hotels that are only for Chinese citizens.  It even says right on the booking.  This has happened to me as late as 2018 in major cities in China  at 4 and 5 star international hotels (Beijing, Shanghai).  The big cities in which I’ve encountered this price difference extend past the borders of mainland China.  This happened to me at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Taiwan and also at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco.  Booked these online via Qunar and then Qunar called me to confirm if I was a Chinese citizen or not, and then informed me that the agent only offers this price to Chinese citizens, and I therefore could not get the rate.  Unless they’ve changed their practice in the past year I’d say this is somewhat common.  I think it has to do with travel agents buying up blocks of rooms in hotels at poplular destinations, and something about they way they’ve booked them requiring mainlanders.  Not entirely sure.  I got in a heated argument with Qunar when this happened to me with my San Francisco booking, but they wouldn’t budge.

 

In order to run into the above issue you need to be booking travel on Chinese sites that are in Chinese targeted at Chinese.  Therefore the average foreigner will never encounter this because they don’t read Chinese and you won’t really find this when booking with hotels or international websites.

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anonymoose

I've never come across a two-tier pricing system for hotels in China. As others have pointed out though, many of the cheaper hotels are off-limits to foreigners, regardless of whether you are in a big city or small village. Anyone who doesn't believe this just needs to take a look on ctrip.com - search Shanghai for example, and you will find about 90% of the hotels won't take foreigners.

 

I have come across two-tier pricing systems for other things which, whilst not specifically directed at foreigners, do disproportionately disadvantage foreigners. At many sites which require an entrance ticket, students can get a 50% reduction, but must have a Chinese student ID.

 

At Elephant Trunk Mountain in Guilin, the entrance fee is but a small fraction of the otherwise exorbitant price for Guilin locals.

 

Likewise, there is a small port open to locals in Xiamen to take a cheap ferry across to Gulangyu. Non-Xiamen residents have to take a different ferry from a different port, far away. Obviously more expensive, but also a lot more hassle.

 

There is a cable car going across the river in Chongqing. If you have a prepaid public transport card, the fee is very cheap. If you buy a ticket at the kiosk there, it is many times more expensive. Of course, prepaid public transport cards are available to anybody, but most outsiders will not have one.

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889

A historical note that back in the days of FEC, foreigner surcharges were common: on trains and admission tickets in particular. That is, you got hit twice: first by having to pay a higher price then second by having to pay that price in FEC, which were worth more than RMB. Hotels would usually charge the posted rate, but demand payment in FEC, which worked as an effective surcharge. Taxi drivers would usually want payment in FEC or US dollars or HK dollars, depending on where you were.

 

Of course even taking the foreigner and FEC surcharges into account, admission tickets back then were a small fraction of today's prices, charged to Chinese and foreigners evenly.

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