While travelling on business earlier this month, I had the opportunity to compare two outlets of a major chain – one part of their full-service collection, the other being one of their limited service brands. (For those who are interested in the actual chain, please contact me directly.)
In both instances, I was alone and my stay was merely for a night and breakfast, arriving after dinner and departing the next morning. Accordingly, my comments relate mostly to a typical business traveler who sees the hotel as an accommodation necessity, rather than the leisure traveler who may be more inclined to indulge in the multi-faceted operational elements such as a spa, pool, bar, concierge, upscale dining and so on.
Arriving in the early evening, there were several front desk receptionists. I was welcomed immediately and, after the perfunctory greeting and credit card swipe, was given a room key and told where the elevators were. I did not see a bell-staffer or evidence that one was on duty, nor was the concierge at his or her station. Arriving in the room, it was well-polished, with numerous tent cards and other printed elements encouraging me to take advantage of extra cost services. The internet connection was complex, with a daily rate in excess of $10 to connect.
The bed was comfortable; the room quiet. The bathroom had the usual amenity tray with five items. However, the shampoo bottle was so small that it would be insufficient for two. Towels were adequate and there were two bathrobes.
Breakfast the next morning was available starting at 7am with a $20 buffet or a la carte alternative. Valet parking was $30 for the night. A checkout folio was inserted under the door in the morning.
There was only one person at the front desk and I waited about two minutes until the receptionist was available. Her greeting included instructions on the free WiFi, free breakfast and free parking. Obviously there was no bellman or concierge, but the receptionist told me about a great restaurant nearby as well as a caution about road construction in the area.
The room itself was very similar to the full service twin. The décor was different; upon close inspection, you could see that the furniture was not quite up to the same standard. Interestingly, the television set was actually larger. Internet was easy to access with no revenue gateway. The air conditioner unit had a bit of annoying fan noise so I shut it off before bed. The drapes did not have the same light cancelling quality.
The bathroom was actually larger than the full service counterpart. The shower had a plastic/fiberglass insert rather than tiles and the vanity was plastic rather than made of a stone of sorts. The shampoo bottle was larger (there were only three amenities available) and the showerhead provided ample coverage. Lastly, I did not spot any bathrobes.
In the morning, the breakfast buffet was ample and I took an extra coffee for the road in a Styrofoam cup. Parking was free and I was on my way efficiently off to my next meeting.
Limited service hotels are clearly the businessman’s friend. No nonsense; you’re in and out with a minimum of fuss and cost. If I am staying less than 12 hours on property, this seems to be the right choice.
But it does not have to be. If you manage a full-service property, have you ever considered creating a package/price-point that caters specifically to this market? Restrict it to one night only, allot your smallest room, limit it to single occupancy, include breakfast and parking, and give it one fixed price. Importantly, offer it only on your website through direct booking, eliminating OTA commission costs. Call it ‘for the road.’
How does this full-service package approach work? Or, do you believe that full-service hotels are the better choice for businesspersons?
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in eHotelier on September 22, 2014)