Part of the joy of dealing with corporate America is watching managers twist themselves into pretzels trying to justify decisions by claiming “our customers wanted the product.” No, they don’t want the product, they want the price.
Because Who Wants A Suite, Anyway?
Having realized that Airbnb probably isn’t going away isn’t going away anytime soon, the lodging companies have taken the attitude of, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, but do it kind of worse.” At the Skift Global Conference yesterday, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta announced that, because the rooms at their brand Tru by Hilton were just too darned big for Millennials at 250 square feet, they were going to outdo themselves and try go even smaller, with a yet-to-be named brand that would cut the space in half (although I do like his description of them as “hostels on steroids”). According to Fortune, Mr. Nassetta is “hoping to make the rooms similar to connectable building blocks.” Kind of a really big Lego’s set, with the added benefit that you wouldn’t have to worry about injuring yourself by stepping on the hotel in the middle of the night.
It’s All about Authenticity
“Little boxes on a hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky”
Having discovered that you do not, in fact, need to stay in a $400 per room hotel night to be comfortable, more and more travelers are turning to sources like Airbnb to provide a place for them to sleep. True, they don’t usually provide bathroom amenities in cute little bottles, but soap just isn’t that expensive. I’ve heard more than one hotel company state that millennials were doing Airbnb in search of “authenticity (because what says ‘authenticity’ like hotel rooms on rollers),” instead of just admitting the truth: Nobody wants to pay more than they have to and, for a generation that has grown up comfortable with the internet and a pliable sense of personal space, disintermediating the lodging industry seems like a nifty idea (For further reading, see Industry, Taxi.).
I get it. These are companies that have to make money. They price the product to make a profit and that’s the way it should be. The best explanation would have been, “There’s a certain segment of the traveling public that only needs a place to rest their heads and we want to appeal to them, also.” Heck, even the airlines figured that one out and created ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit.d
But at least be honest about it because, every time Marriott tells us that they remove desks because business travelers don’t want them, or that hotels now have bars downstairs because business travelers want to socialize (and not to sell them drinks) or that they were going to try out Embassy Suites hotels with only one room because travelers didn’t like all that space (Yeah, I’ve heard that one, too.), customers just point and laugh. People don’t really stay at Airbnb because they want to use somebody else’s bathroom.
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