Insincere hotels

Caroline Mayer’s The Checkout blog in the Washington Post comments on what she perceives as insincerity on the part of hotels when they insert cards asking for guest preferences with regard to reusing towels and sheets during a stay. Increasingly used across almost all segments, the notes appeal to guests’ sensitivities on environmental issues which not accidentally result in savings in time and material.

Mayer feels that hotels would be better off stating at the outset that the entire exercise revolves only around saving money and in fact the cards should state “Help us keep room rates down by reusing your towels!” Apart from the fact that such a statement is unlikely to elicit any more sympathy or empathy from the traveling public, the intent for most operators, notwithstanding the environment factor, is not to reduce room rates but to have a better NOI. This year’s rate rises across the country is arguably unsustainable but costs as most operators know have risen across many line items with hotels barely cresting the NOI levels of the previous best year ever – 2000.

Of course, hotels that use the cards to provide little or no housekeeping service as she notes in her post are likely to suffer a customer backlash with guests voting with their feet to go elsewhere. The right balance can and does result in guest satisfaction and not insignificant environmental benefits.

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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.