Back to the Ritz Carleton

My mind is still on this Ritz-Carlton internet access pricing thing – I’m still trying to get my head around why they do it and I think I’ve cracked it.  They’re stuck in a time warp.

Remember the days when you dressed to go on a flight?  Flying and aircraft were seen as something glamorous and by being a passenger you became part of the jet set.  Maybe big, old style hotels are still stuck in that same era.  Going to stay in a big, smart hotel used to be glamorous because you got huge bath towels, a robe and lots of plastic bottles of cheap shampoo.  Well, guess what?  At big smart hotels you still get huge bath towels, a robe and lots of plastic bottles of cheap shampoo.  But it that really what the customer wants?  Really?

The airlines came to recognize that they needed to change and I think the time may be coming for big hotels too.  Let’s be honest, how many people turn up at a hotel without any toiletries?  Or who wouldn’t prefer the hotel spent the money on some other area of service that was actually of real benefit to the paying customer?  In the modern consumer-driven reality, cheap shampoo isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd, is it?

Rather than just filling the bathroom with stuff, how about asking guests if they would like a toiletry package made up and delivered to their room?  Not only would it save money overall but it would be useful (on those odd occasions when you didn’t have your own) and it would make you feel that the hotel had provided a special service for you as an individual rather than someone just part of the crowd.  It’s called personal service and it makes a difference.

Or how about this: the internet is no longer a luxury; instead of charging guests to use it they should be going the other way and providing a PC in every room for guests to use, with free high speed internet access.  As the move towards cloud computing and VPNs gathers pace how much of a USP would it be that guests knew they didn’t need to lug their computer around because one would be provided in their room?

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