Twelve hours on the road, and all you can think about is a hotel room. Drop your suitcase, and flop onto the bed like an uninhibited free fall into a swimming pool. Twenty minutes ago you exited the highway, anxious to free your vision of a hundred thousand segments of broken white lane lines. You don’t need anything fancy—just a bed to plunge into sleep. The La Quinta Inn will do just fine. You park the car, then walk inside to be greeted by Carol— a middle-aged receptionist at the front desk.
Carol: “Hello. Welcome to La Quinta. How may I help you?”
You: “I just need one room for myself only.”
Carol: “King or queen size bed?”
You: “Queen will be fine. All I need to do is crash.”
Carol: “That’ll be four-fifty-five. Check-out is 11:00AM. All I need is your license and a credit card.”
You’re standing there ever so slightly wondering if maybe, just maybe, you misunderstood her. There’s a slight snicker in your voice.
You: “Uh, how much for the room?”
Yep, you heard her correctly.
You: “Like four-hundred and fifty-five?”
Carol: “Yes, sir. Formula One is in town.”
You: “But I’m not here for Formula One. I’m just a tired guy who’s been driving for twelve hours and needs a bed to crash on.”
Carol: “Sir, I’m not quite sure if you realize who you’re dealing with. This is not just La Quinta Inn. This is the hotel industry. This is the one worldwide entity that can jack prices so high, you have no choice but to hand over that little plastic card in your wallet and pretty much consider yourself screwed. And you can kick and scream and go into demonic gyrations that’ll look like you need an exorcism, but the bottom line is: we ain’t budging. Now, will that be credit card or cash?”
I understand the supply and demand going on here, but is it really necessary for hotels to hike up room rates as exorbitantly as they do? When Formula One was in Austin, Texas, the Best Western in a town 30 miles away charged $450.00 for a regular room. Whatever happened to hotel managers treating customers like customers and keeping prices steady, regardless of what’s going on in town? Did the hotel industry ban them from working? Were they fired for dishonorable greed? Were they scooped up by a front-end loader before being pureed in a gigantic blender, and then poured into the Hudson River? I say we do some undercover work by collecting the names of all hotel managers who are participate in these 400% rate increases, and treat them as they should be treated.
I got a plan…
We’ll start by hiring an expert marksmen to wait outside their residences. With a tranquilizer gun they’ll shoot the managers in the rear as they bend over to get the evening paper. (Aiming for the rear eliminates the risk of hitting any major organs. Plus, when you see someone with a feathery dart lodged in the buttocks, there’s a sort of comical Three Stooges added bonus.) If they don’t subscribe to the paper, then they’ll be shot as they head out for an evening jog. If they don’t jog, then our man on the streets will hit them in the grocery store. And if they only eat delivery pizza, then we’ll pay the delivery driver to put them in a headlock and rotate them so their rear faces the street…bulls-eye! After being tranquilized, we’ll microchip their hands which will be nonchalantly scanned at any point-of-purchase to verify identification. Typically, the scan will read: “GREEDY SOB”, “BLOOD SUCKING VAMPIRE”, or “NOT A NICE PERSON”. Once identified, “Operation Screw You Hotel Manager” will go into full effect…
Convenience Store Cashier: “One Snicker bar. Will that be all, sir?”
Hotel Manager: “Yes.”
Convenience Store Cashier: “That’ll be $15.99.”
Hotel Manager: “Excuse me—did you say fifteen-dollars and ninety-nine cents!?”
Convenience Store Cashier: “Yes, sir. Formula One is in town.”
Yard Sale Homeowner: “You’d like to buy the measuring cups set, Monopoly game, and flat-head shovel?”
Hotel Manager: “Yes.”
Yard Sale Homeowner: “$320.00”
Hotel Manager: “Outrageous!! Formula One!?”
Yard Sale Homeowner: “You got it, buddy.”
Honda Sales Rep: “So you’d like to buy the used 4-door Accord with 57,000 miles?”
Hotel Manager: “Yes.”
Honda Sales Rep: “That’ll be $520,999.”
Hotel Manager: “I know, I know…Formula One.“
Honda Sales Rep: “Actually no, that ended yesterday. But this is the Day After Half-Price Sale. Now, how would you like to pay, sir?”
It’s time to give hotel managers a taste of their own greed by letting them know what it’s like to live on the other side of the counter. After all, these guys are making movie theater concessions prices seem as if the popcorn is just being given away.
Classified Ad: In the market for a new job? Seeking a career change in a field that thrives on taking advantage of its customers? Then perhaps a hotel manager is your calling—no previous job experience needed. Only the mental skill set of a bank robber.
It’s a cultural phenomenon how we accept increased pricing set by hotels due to holidays, seasons, and local events. Even though there is as much a demand for food, fuel, and toothpaste as there is a place to sleep, we don’t see grocery stores price-shafting us because there’s a college graduation going on: “College graduates and families—-Welcome to Gas-N-Go Mart! Fuel your car here for only $17.00 a gallon!! Then grab a freshly-cooked rotisserie chicken, bag of chips, and a soft drink for just $99.00!! And what better way to end the day than by cleaning your teeth from a $15.00 tube of toothpaste!!”
Yes, these are certainly exciting times when the economy is so robust you can throw customer service out the window, and simply implement a mad price hike to get all you can get. When Formula One is in town, even churches should charge people to put money in the offering plate, or at least establish a $20.00 minimum. Look, guys, do you or do you not want that new Sunday school wing built before Christmas? Follow the hotel industry’s lead and, before you know it, your monetary needs might never require another single prayer again.
Copyright Ros Hill, 2016