The Bipolar World of Hotel Marketing
Room service fee of $7 plus 18 percent gratuity added to the bill.
A $12 maid service charge in Phoenix.
Faxes that used to be a buck a page are now up to $5.
One hotel advertised free high-speed Internet service and then charged $12.95 to rent the Ethernet cable.
According to CFO Magazine, some hotels are including automatic charges for bellhops and housekeeping and cites Sheraton as adding an automatic charge for charitable contributions.
Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC's "Today" show stayed at one hotel that charged him $15 for a FedEx delivery, and travel commentator Rudy Maxa was once charged for an in-room safe he never used.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant Bjorn Hanson, the hotel industry picked up an extra $1.4 billion from "nontraditional sources" in 2005, up from $1 billion in 2000.
Accountants love the idea because it's free money.
A marketer has to hate it. The idea that every time customers turn around they are being nickel-and-dimed for services that should be expected when paying hundreds of dollars a night for a room is simply wrong-headed.
A guest who leaves feeling ripped off will stay elsewhere next time.
"To Loiter, Perchance to Spend"
This was the title of Drew Limsky's marvelous March 7, 2006, New York Times piece that described how a number of hotels are making a real effort to create an ambiance that not only delights customers but actually persuades them to hang around and spend more money in the hotel, rather than going out. Some examples:
A Friday and Saturday night all-you-can-eat chocolate bar at the Peninsula Chicago.
A teatime harpist in New York's Ritz-Carlton and a jazz trio at the St. Regis, while the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco opened a sushi bar with a jazz pianist nearby.
A Humphrey Bogart film festival at the Four Seasons in Miami and Fellini movies at London's Baglioni Hotel on the first Sunday of the month.