I often read online about people concerned about using a corporate rate because they feel the hotel will be asking for identification at check-in to confirm the discounted corporate rate eligibility. I found many people asking these sorts of questions and others relying on online forums that an ID is required to use a corporate rate. However, my experience is very different, and I believe it is purely an ethical issue in cases you are not eligible to use a specific rate. Nobody would likely ever catch you (neither anybody is motivated to see you). On the other hand, it is a matter of what ethical standard you aim at in your personal and professional life.
In my career, I have been enjoying corporate rates at hotels in many different capacities. Sometimes, I was an actual employee of the company that negotiated the discounted rate, so I had a business card and another form of identification. However, for most of my career, I have used corporate rates as a consultant, contractor, supplier, or customer of the company holding the contract with the hotel chain. Therefore, I had no identification, and sometimes the details of my relationship with the company that booked the room for me were confidential. In any case, the details are never the business of the receptionist at the hotel.
Typically I am asked for a form of corporate identification less than 10% of the time I have a reservation using a corporate rate. When I am an employee, I typically show my business card, but I say so when I am a contractor or supplier. No further details are needed. Usually, my answer to a request for corporate ID to prove my relationship with the company holding the contract with the hotel chain sounds like, “Sorry, I am a contractor/supplier/customer.” Not a single time I was asked any additional questions or challenged further.
The truth is that the hotel chain itself has no interest in investigating eligibility because its business and profitability are all about occupancy. Their number one goal is to fill the property in. It is the old pricing game. Let’s give an example. If we are talking about a hotel that charges a rack rate of $300 per night, they would be happy to sell rooms at $150 to fill in their property as long as their guest paying $300 per night does not get to know that.
For this reason, website like Hotwire is successful. Hotwire allows hotels to sell rooms with a heavy discount and raise their occupancy without losing margin with the price-insensitive customers willing to pay the rack rate anyway to stay at that specific place. Therefore for the same reason, they are happy to accept guests who booked with a discounted rate through a corporate deal.
Moreover, corporate guests book directly with the hotel, either by phone or on the hotel website. Therefore the hotel can save the commissions they typically pay to travel websites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Booking.com, or any other. Commissions are costly, typically in the 15-25% range. Therefore providing a similar discount for a corporate client makes total business sense for the hotel chain.
The only scenario when a hotel is unhappy about having guest booking with a corporate discounted rate is when they are pretty much positive that the entire hotel will be fully booked, for example, in specific locations during holidays or large conventions. You can tell that immediately from the hotel website because the website will not accept the corporate code, and you will be only left with the rack rate.
So should you worry about being kicked out of the hotel? Not based on my pretty extensive experience. Am I suggesting you use corporate rates you are not eligible for? Not at all, but purely because I do not feel it is ethical. However, I would suggest that you understand if you are eligible to take advantage of corporate rates because, very often, you do not need to be an employee of the company holding the contract with the hotel. Contractors, consultants, suppliers, and customers are also very often eligible.