I negotiate technology deals for a living. But of late I have diversified into travel negotiations. With hotels and car services in India. Because the savings are big enough to pay for 2-3 more client staff going on the trips. I nickel and dime and make sure hotel rates include breakfast, wifi, airport transfers; car service include plenty of hours and mileage.
And I hate it. Because I know no matter what I do, an average Indian off the street would get another 40 to 50% off. Even the local airlines with their official tariffs charge fares bought in foreign currency a premium. Can you imagine the lawsuits in the US if our hotels and airlines charged more based on national origin? But it continues unabated in India.
One practice, though, is beyond unreasonable - it is unethical. Hotels and car services quote you in dollars, then convert that into Indian rupees, then Amex converts on your statement back to US dollars. But the intermediate conversion is 7, 8, 10% more than the official rate, so they make out on that also. Well respected hotels like the Leela in Bangalore, the Taj chain, the Travel House car service all do this and just shrug their shoulders when you point this out. I have started to dispute that difference on my Amex. You quoted me in dollars. Stick to that original rate.
To my friends in the Indian outsourcing business, please negotiate rates for your visitors and lobby the government to penalize discriminatory behavior. Your visitors come to India to save money, not to get gouged. The practices of the travel industry create an unethical view of Indian business in general.