Can you imagine any business advertising that its paradigm is the title of this post? Yet, that is how “business class” hotels operate.
I recently went on a rare overnight (two nights) business trip. Normally, I stay at a mid-priced “tourist” hotel such as La Quinta on these trips. But this was not a normal business trip….
I was traveling with 10 other co-workers for our annual implementation workshop to provide an overview of program policies to some 40 small local governments that had been awarded grants from our annual funding cycle. Normally, these workshops are held locally to save on staff travel costs. But this was not a normal workshop year…
By an unfortunate coincidence, the workshop was scheduled for one week after the legislative session was scheduled to end. Since it’s not unusual for the session to be extended, prudence dictated that the workshop held be held out of town. That way, there’d be no possibility of hotel room snafus if the session went into overtime and the legislators, staffers and lobbyists had to keep their hotel rooms.
So the workshop was held in downtown Jacksonville, at the Hyatt on the Riverwalk. The “group” rate was $99. No complimentary breakfast. Parking was $10 daily. I decided I could do better for the taxpayers…and me.
I thought I was in luck when I found a Hampton Inn on the other side of the river. Adjacent to a Skyway station which would leave me a few blocks from the Hyatt. Complimentary breakfast. Hotel points and airline miles. But even the government rate was over $100, and it isn’t even on the river.
Then, I sniffed out a “Florida resident” special for the Wyndham, just two blocks from the Hampton. On the river. Two blocks from the Skyway. Complimentary breakfast. A Southwest Airlines partner, so I’d at least get airline miles. At $92, I’d save the taxpayers $7 (plus tax) a night and reduce the federal deficit by about $15. I’m in!
Upon arrival, the reality of a “business class” hotel dashed my initial delusions. You’d think that a hotel with a rack rate of $100+ nightly would have sharp front desk staff. Yes, they wear uniforms which resemble what flight attendants wore back in the days when most folks dressed up for a flight. But behind the uniform was the “Welcome to McDonald’s” expertise.
First, the clerk had trouble entering my Southwest number. Apparently, the Wyndham doesn’t do much business with the rabble that flies Southwest and so staff is unfamiliar with entering Southwest account numbers. After a good half dozen attempts, she got it right. Welcome to Wyndham!
When I asked about how the complimentary breakfast worked, she advised there was none. I showed her the print out of my rate details. She mumbled something about how she should read the reservation notes in her computer and then handed me some “complimentary breakfast” cards. Welcome to Wyndham!
In the room, I began fantasizing how I could make big money with a La Quinta franchise in this area. No refrigerator or microwave, which is standard in every mid-priced hotel I’ve been in. The TV was a 19-inch CRT, not a 32-inch flat panel which many mid-priced hotels have. All of 22 channels. Thank goodness I’m being reimbursed for the hotel stay….I’m paying more for much less than a La Quinta. Welcome to Wyndham!
But wait, there’s more! No ice bucket in the room. I thought maybe it was just me, but when I headed to the ice machine with a 44-ounce drink cup I encountered a guest using a room wastebasket for an ice bucket. The coffee machine in my room didn’t work. When my key card acted up the second day and I couldn‘t get into the room, I went to the foyer in the elevator area of the floor to call the front desk. The phone didn’t work. Welcome to Wyndham!
Plus, I had to pay $10 daily parking and the parking situation on that side of the river is not a problem. It’s just another “profit center” for the hotel. The complimentary breakfast did not include coffee or juice; those would be another $2. Another “profit center” for the hotel. Welcome to Wyndham!
I don’t understand how these “business” hotels stay open. Especially in this economy, businesses are looking to cut expenses and travel costs are an easy place to cut. Why spend $100+ a night, pay for parking and breakfast when your employee can stay at a La Quinta for less and get free breakfast and parking? And probably enjoy more room amenities, including a 32-inch flat panel TV with much more than 22 channels. The employee is happy and the employer easily saves $30 or more per night. Isn’t that what’s called a “win-win” situation?
The business hotel model will be a target unless it begins to act like Target: “Pay less, expect more.”