Age Discrimination? Pay Your Birth-Year Rate

Photo Credit: prayitno via Compfight cc

Canadian reader Lisa Sansom wrote to us about an interesting price promotion at Starwood hotels: 


We’re celebrating the year you were born. With this special offer for two or three night stays, you’ll receive rates equal to your birth year!

  • First night: full rate
  • Second or third night: rates equal to your birth year! (If you were born in 1948, you’ll receive your 2nd and 3rd nights at $48!)
  • Rates for second and third night stays will be confirmed at check-in upon presentation of valid ID.
  • Valid for arrivals Thursday – Saturday

The promotion is price discrimination based on age, with the assumption that younger guests are willing to pay more than older guests (since the older you are, the better rate you get). Sansom points out that the system is protected from gaming as you have to be over 18 (and born before 1996) to book, which makes $95 the upper rate  — unless you were born before 1900, in which case we want to know your secret!


Funny, that's exactly the opposite of the assumption I would have made--how many people 40+ do you see staying in hostels?

I wonder if they did it that way because discriminating in favor of old people is much more palatable than discriminating in favor of young people ("discriminating" not necessarily being used in the pejorative sense).


Uh, hotel, not hostel. I've stayed at many hotels and have seen a lot of older people there, so I'm assuming maybe you misread it?


I have seen a similar promotion scheme in Germany by a optician. You get a discout of 1% per year (on the price for the spectacle frame but not the glasses, however, lots of insurances do pay for the glasses but not the frame).

See here:

Mr. Guy

If this is discrimination, wouldn't senior (and junior) discounts be as well?


It's called price discrimination, and yes, student and "senior" discounts are examples of price discrimination (which is different from the standard definition of discrimination in that it is supposed to be based off of different groups willingness to pay for the service). The idea is that retired people have a higher elasticity of demand for things such as movies, so that as the price they are charged goes up, the response of demand is greater than it would be for those who are still working.


I don't like the negative connotation of "discrimination" added to this nice promotion. There has to be a better word. Maybe "distinction"?


It's not a phrase that is intended to have any connotation - just an actual economic term.

Ben Mathews

Discrimination is a neutral term. It is considered a good thing to be discriminating in your food choices.


Yes, It is age discrimination, but it isn't wrong. Basically they are doing the same thing as a senior citizens discount. The reason why it they are doing it, is because opportunity costs are lower with older people, this allows them to search for the best deals.(because they are largely retired) Because of this in order to stay competitive companies have to offer discounts. I applaud the marketing strategy, basically it says as one gets older we know they have more time to hunt for deals so, we are going to give them lower prices.
Who cares if it is age discrimination, it isn't like I am forced to stay at their hotel they are a private business and have no control over my purchase decision. Age discrimination is the fact that if the head of household is over 65 he gets a larger standard deduction than I do. What they have done is just a marketing strategy to attract their target audience.