Amenity creep

Today’s travel tips section in The Washington Post features tips on how to maximize one’s dollar during the forthcoming summer travel rush. The advice on hotels includes calling a hotel directly to ensure there are in-room safes (large enough to accommodate a laptop) and check whether the signal for wireless internet access is strong enough in the rooms. The report also correctly notes “A rule of thumb: High-end hotels usually charge for in-room Internet access (wired or wireless), while budget hotels often provide it free.”

That is always a great deal for price-conscious travelers and an enduring complaint with budget and limited service hotel owners/operators. Called “amenity-creep”, it is a refrain heard often (and loudly) at all major franchise conventions. Over the past few years, major franchisors have increasingly mandated more amenities (they don’t foot the bill) with some going to absurd levels with items like beds, oversized desks and a full-buffet breakfast that are not only functionally and visually incongruous but also create a significant dent in profits. While hotel guests lap up the freebies, few owners, predictably, report a corresponding increase in profitability.

For boutiques and high-end hotels, it is a different outcome because (as mentioned in the Post article), they charge for the add-ons with some hotels continuing to charge even for local and toll-free calls. Limited service operators ought to take their cue from the boutiques and consider emphasizing value via service – for starters. By doing so, charging for internet access will likely be a lot more palatable to the customer.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.