Adventures In Stupidity: Petty Service Charges

My wife rarely travels and is currently out-of-town. She just called me to question or let me know there’s a charge (or access fee) for wi-fi at the hotel. The charge? $9.99 per night. Many of you might think or believe it’s a menial charge since we now seem to live in an al-a-carte world.

However, in my view, this is just a stupid policy left over from when wi-fi was a premium service and all the rage. But, someone, somewhere, in the bowels of the accounting department probably argues this is a perfectly reasonable charge that most others still enforce. And, heaven knows every property needs to “enhance revenues.” Even though you can pretty much have access to free wi-fi in most coffee shops.

For anyone that’s stayed in a hotel above the level of “roadside motel.” What would you think if they charged you an “access fee” to use the supplied room hair dryer, or iron? Maybe you would shrug it off if you paid $19.00 for a one night stay believing “cheap is cheap.” However, if you stayed at an establishment with any repute (let’s say one with a true dedicated, on premises, concierge service) wouldn’t it give you a feeling of cheapening your stay? No matter how wonderful the property?

This type of nickel and dime-ing permeates far too many brands in an effort to squeeze every last cent possible. It’s ludicrous. These fees both cheapen the experience and puts forefront into one’s mind: “What else are they gonna nail me for?” This should be the last thing any brand should want, not to mention – self inflict. Especially when you’re regarded as one (if not The) premier brand in your respected market.

You can tarnish your brand (and a lot more) that you’ve worked so hard to maintain or create by not paying attention to exactly what you’re charging for – and how.

Stop listening to foolish accounting or cost saving department heads that understand dollars and cents but, have no idea of brand value, how to build it or, how to maintain it. There is a much smarter way to make them as well as your customers or guests happy. (especially when the amount is insignificant to your overall charges or pricing structure)

Just include the miscellaneous fee into your price and, if it’s requested by the guest you can just smile and say, “I would be glad to allow you access. And, there’s no charge, thank you for staying with us.” For a miniscule amount you can reap rewards that are well remembered by returning guests.

Alas, that’s not what is taking place where it should. These petty type charges seem to be happening more and more where one would think better. For you see my wife is staying not at some discount motel, she’s spending the week at the Ritz Carlton®.

Now let me be clear, the Ritz is a beautiful, wonderfully appointed and staffed hotel. The experience of staying there as opposed to almost every other brand is miles removed. Yet, what prompted her to call me, and myself to write this article? Not the wonderful amenities. Rather…

The idiotic petty charge.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr