The Surprise Hotel Room

If you travel a lot like me, you will have experienced your share of over-priced, poorly designed hotel rooms. Maybe you’ve wondered why your room doesn’t have a power point by the bed so you can charge your phone and use your alarm without having to jump out of bed in the morning. Maybe you’ve also been woken in the early hours by the hotel’s bedside clock alarm set by somebody else, and fumbled in the dark trying to turn it off. (I sometimes wonder whether mischievous hotel staff do this on purpose!)

You’ve probably also asked yourself one or more of the following questions.

Why are most hotel rooms so inhospitable and dark, with hard to use lamps? Why are bar fridges so noisy, and air conditioners so difficult to work? Why the wasted small bottles of lotions and packets of soap in the bathroom? Why is the internet so complicated to log into and so slow when you do? And why do they expect us to complete long-winded questionnaires, as if we had nothing better to do?

It makes you wonder if the owners of these establishments have ever slept in their own rooms. It is also a pertinent reminder for us all to regularly put ourselves in our customers shoes and try out our own products.

Well I am pleased to report my faith in hotels has been restored. We run a virtual business where our staff work from home. So every few months we get together for a face to face catch up, usually in Brisbane where most of the team live. Last week we hired a function room at Choice Hotel’s Econo Lodge In Kangaroo Point. As I was flying in from Sydney the night before I figured I’d stay at the venue. When I discovered it was literally a third of the price we’d been used to paying for hotel rooms, I had some reservations (excuse the pun).

I couldn’t believe my luck

My check-in, by a member of the franchisee’s family, was friendly and fast. He had my room key ready and, when he discovered I was not part of their loyalty program, he offered to join me up then and there as this would give me free WiFi. My next pleasant surprise was I could get myself and my bags conveniently into my room without getting squashed by those annoying, spring loaded doors; and the whole room lit up when I flicked on the switch, just like at home. It was also spacious which meant I could do my Yoga exercises in the morning without having to squeeze between a bed and a desk.

There were power points everywhere, an uncluttered table with simple, comfortable chairs, and super fast WiFi. The room was also spotlessly clean, had a quiet, easy to use air conditioner, all the usual amenities in good working order and milk in the fridge. (Last week in a five star hotel I had to get dressed and go downstairs to get a small jug of milk for my nightly cup of tea).

It gets better

I have an allergy to feathers, so I am forever calling down to housekeeping in expensive hotels to have the feather pillows and doona removed, despite requesting this at booking. But in my surprise hotel room they had already replaced my bed with allergy-free pillows and blankets. The bathroom and shower were also uncluttered, with liquid soap and shampoo available from a convenient wall dispenser. None of the usual waste we find in hotels that claim to be “environmentally friendly”. And rather than an over-priced breakfast, I had the option of having a cooked breakfast delivered to the privacy of my room at a third the usual price.

It amazes me how the hotel industry has been able to get away with delivering such poor value for so long. Is it any wonder Airbnb is revolutionising the face of the accommodation industry. It’s also refreshing to find establishments that work hard to deliver real value and don’t suffer from the sense of entitlement that has plagued this industry for so long. Well done to Choice Hotels and the franchisee of this establishment. To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”

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