Hotel Booking Website’s Suggestion at Checkout Sparks Outrage

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The plethora of services available online in our digital world does make our lives easier. But does this mean websites should get a tip for their services too? Well, one customer was offered the option to do so recently while booking their travel.

In a post on Reddit shared on November 6, user okonisfree shared a screenshot of a message box that appeared while they were booking a hotel stay.

The poster, a 30-year-old software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area who declined to reveal their name, told Newsweek that the screenshot was taken from the website Super.com.

The message asked whether they’d like to “leave a $9 tip for saving you $85.08.” An option to complete the booking without paying a tip also appears at the bottom of the screen.

A caption shared with the image on Reddit says: “No, I’m not tipping a hotel booking website.”

Clem Bason, general manager of travel at Super.com, told Newsweek that the website launched tipping at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “We did so to be able to maintain adequate operations and staffing levels for our customers. At the same time, we wanted to maintain what Super.com is known for—consistently lower prices on hotel stays.

“Tipping was an idea that we tested, and we found—like others during this time—that some customers appreciated the savings we delivered and were willing to tip,” Bason said.

The latest Reddit post comes as the demand for hotels in the U.S. is projected to surpass the levels seen in 2019, before the pandemic, according to the 2023 State of the Hotel Industry report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The U.S. hotel industry is forecast to achieve 1.3 billion occupied room nights in 2023, marking a 56.9 percent improvement from 2020’s low of 831.64 million occupied room nights following the onset of the pandemic, the report said.

The rise in “bleisure travelers” who blend business and leisure trips and “digital nomads” who make the most of remote working policies represented a “significant shift in consumer attitudes and behaviors,” according to the report.

A stock image of a person looking at a hotel booking website on a laptop computer. A customer was recently asked whether they’d like to leave a tip for the “savings” they earned while booking a hotel stay at Super.com.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

‘Insane’

User okonisfree from the latest Reddit post told Newsweek that their hotel booking was for a one-night hotel stay in Italy, which amounted to $476.44 without the tip included, according to the image shared in the post.

A note just below the suggested tip message says: “Your support helps us deliver the best in hotel deals.”

The poster said the latest instance wasn’t the first time they’d seen a booking website ask for tips. “Can also see tip [request] at checkout on other websites like Traveluro,” the poster told Newsweek. Traveluro has been contacted for comment via email.

Bason from Super.com said that “the screenshot shown in the Reddit post was an experiment that has since been retired.”

Noting that tipping is optional in all cases and that “tips are generally defaulted to zero,” Bason said that the website calculates “the tip suggestion based on the amount we save the user. But again, it is completely optional.”

He said: “In general, tips are set via a slider at the bottom of the checkout page,” as shown in a screenshot of the latest message box from the website that was shared with Newsweek.

Super.com tip suggestion box.
A screenshot of the latest tip suggestion message box seen at Super.com, which was shared with Newsweek by the booking website.
Super.com

The latest Reddit post has sparked outrage among users on Reddit.

The_dumb_engineer asked: “Who even gets the tip?????!?!?!”

Fragrant_Ad_7718 simply wrote: “Corporate greed!!”

StevoFF82 said: “Insane. So far past the point of the original meaning of a tip. Basically just a request for more profit from a company now.”

Positive-Ear-9177 said “No f***** way and The_AmyrlinSeat replied “Yup, I saw it myself when I booked a hotel stay in September.”

Over-Wall8387 wrote: “The pre calculation for a ‘tip’ is the cherry on top lol.”

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