I just booked three nights of lodging for a conference I need to attend for work. The room will cost $179 per night, plus 20% in taxes. That’s $644 for a place to sleep for three nights. And, unbelievably, that’s a highly discounted rate for that room, which normally goes for $250 or so per night before taxes.
I don’t know how many rooms this hotel has, but let’s guess it has 500 rooms. If every room were booked at an average of $200 per night for a year, that would be $36,500,000 in revenue for that one hotel in a year. Of course, they probably average 70% occupancy, and it isn’t cheap to build a conference hotel. I get all that, but still, it’s hard to think that on the night before the conference, I’ll sleep in my own bed for free, and the next night, it will cost me $200!
Maybe it’s the shampoo and soap and conditioner and lotion and mouthwash and the little sewing kit. Well, that explains a few dollars worth. They do have cable TV, but I’m sure they get a volume discount on it. The bed will probably be nice, with fancy sheets. We don’t wash our sheets every night at home, and we don’t have five extra pillows to take off and put in the corner of the room each night.
What really grinds me is to stay in an expensive hotel and get charged for Internet use. In the Hilton family of hotels, the cheaper Hampton Inns provide free Internet, while the more expensive Hilton properties charge $15 per night or so for it. That’s like charging for use of the toilet or TV, if you ask me.
So far this year, I’ve saved 35 key cards from the hotel rooms I’ve stayed in for work. Many people stay in hotels a lot more than I do, but I’m here to tell you that very few of those rooms were worth what I paid for them. Now and then I’ll wake up really well rested, step into a nice shower that works right, and up to the sink where the water both stays in the bowl when I want it to, and drains out when I pull up on the thing. I’ll enjoy a nice little breakfast and the staff will be pleasant. Those are the rooms that are worth the money.
I recently stayed at a fancy hotel where the person who registered me seemed to be highly bothered by my presence, and his condescending attitude colored my feeling for that hotel. He was efficient and all, but he made me feel like an interruption to his day.
But, when you’re out of town, and you don’t want to sleep in your rental car, the options are limited. They’ve got you, and they know it. So, I’ll pay the $644, and try hard to make sure the investment in that room will be worthwhile by working especially hard at the conference. That’s the plan, anyway.
In the meantime, I’m thinking we’ll start charging for overnight guests at our house… but we’ll have free Internet. I’m still thinking about the fee for using the toilet.