Sunday musings: Dining surge pricing, Airline seat reservations, Computerized interviews

dining surge pricingHere are three things to think about when you go out to dine, when you make airline seat reservations, and when you apply for a job. Dining surge pricing may soon be based on when you decide to eat. Airlines are getting passengers to pay for no upgrades. And, job interviews are only being given to applicants who are selected by computers. No, this is not science fiction.

What is ‘dining surge pricing,’ and should you be scared?

Is the next part of deciding to have dinner at a restaurant going to be paying more for the popular dining times? Uber and Lyft charge more for rush-hour travel. Airlines have different airfares based on the time of travel. Already some programs such as Open Table give out dining points based on the time that a person makes a reservation. But, until now, for me, the price paid at a restaurant did not depend on when a person dines (except, perhaps, when comparing lunch and dinner). That is changing. Get ready for dining surge pricing.

As Bob Bob Ricard owner and founder Leonid Shutov pointed out to Bloomberg, timing-dependent price-tweaking has been standard practice across many industries for years. “The idea just came from looking at how the rest of the world functions,” he said. “Airlines wouldn’t be able to exist, the business model wouldn’t work unless you could balance supply and demand. Everything that we have taken that is widely accepted in the modern economy and applied to restaurants, seems to have worked.”

Much commotion was made about Shutov’s announcement as the notion gained steam throughout 2018. At Bloomberg’s The Year Ahead: Luxury conference in November, Alinea Group co-founder Nick Kokonas predicted it as a major trend for 2019.

5 Low-Cost Ways Families Can Sit Together DownloadAirline seat selection fees: It is pay to play

I find this airline practice of charging for preferred seats odious. However, it is now one of the ways that airlines can squeeze more money from passengers. Now, airlines are charging different prices for aisle and window seats or for seats closer to the front of the plane. These seats are identical to every other lowest class seat aboard the aircraft. When we pay for a larger seat or more legroom, it makes sense. But simply sitting in Row 18 rather than Row 28 for an additional reservation fee seems a bit much.

Airlines say the moves are part of a concerted effort to diversify products and give customers more options, a pay-to-play environment in which customers who are willing to spend more receive the peace of mind that comes with confirmed seat assignments and the comfort of larger seats with more legroom.

Critics say the move is yet another push for profits at a time when other perks such as bag allowances and on-board food have been monetized.

READ MORE ON TRAVELERS UNITED:“Preferred seats” — How airlines get more money from you

VPN: Key for Travelers' Internet Security DownloadThis bot judges how much you smile during your job interview

If you ever visit a Hilton Hotel and feel like the desk clerk was hired by a robot, you may be correct. That is just what a Salt Lake City company is doing for Hilton International. They note that more than 28,000 job seekers were interviewed by only a computer algorithm and never had the opportunity for human interaction with their employment application.

Hilton claims that it is similar to taking an SAT test in order to get into college. Either applicants have the SAT scores needed or they are not even considered. However, applicants know what the SAT is looking for and they can study in order to succeed. In the case of these computerized interview algorithms what the company wants and what is being tested is still a secret.

It this any way to run a company? What do you think?

“It’s a one-way interview,” says Smart [vice president of global recruitment for Hilton International]. “The candidate will receive anywhere between five to seven questions that they get a chance to answer.” Hilton and HireVue develop these questions together, but they’re all designed to determine whether you’ll be a friendly worker, an empathetic one, and if you’ll be successful in the role. Applicants record their answers inside HireVue’s video platform, then the algorithm gets to work. It breaks down how many prepositions you use, and whether or not you smile. Chief technology officer Loren Larsen says the tool can examine around 25,000 different data points per video, breaking down your words, your voice, and your face.

As Smart explains, “It’s a pass/fail.” Since becoming a HireVue client in 2014, 43,000 job seekers have interviewed with the algorithm. Two-thirds – roughly 28,667 people – had their applications rejected without being seen by a single person.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash