Recently, The Cranky Flier wrote about the airline El Al (which seriously sounds like it should serve flights to the planet Kypton) creating a super-low economy section by charging for services normally offered for free. This “unbundling”, as it’s known in industry parlance, would charge for things like snacks and drinks. I’m assuming there’s no upcharge for seat belts and barf bags.
And I just complained about the ludicrous prices of hotels in much of the First World – the United States is my most egregious example, but western Europe is hardly a bargain.
Why not put the ideas together” That is, unbundling hotel services. I can’t take credit for this idea – it was the ever-practical wife’s suggestion when I told her about El Al.
I’d completely be willing to forgo telephone services, irons in the room, cable TV and a bad continental breakfast. Hmm, I guess “bad continental breakfast” is redundant. I’ve always thought that first a pastry is a pastry – then it gets stale and becomes a “scone.” Once the scone solidifies into a rocklike mass surpassing diamonds on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, it winds up on a tray in a hotel’s continental breakfast spread; only the brutally acidic coffee on display is caustic enough to break it down for consumption by some humans. But I digress.
That seems a nifty solution to what I consider the really poor values that are most hotels.
Here’s a question for you: What standard hotel services would you forego to knock some bucks off the bill”
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Daily maid service. I don’t need my toilet cleaned every day. This would save a ton of money, given that maids are paid around $20 per room.
And I have to say, people complain about the airline fees for luggage and soda, but I am really okay with it. Why should I, brining one carry-on bag, pay the same as someone who is brining 2 huge suitcases? I don’t agree with charging for water though — as dehydrated as we get on planes, water should continue to be free.
Someone actually did that! Found this article last week: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2009/aug/20/19-dollar-hotel-without-bed
This is why I often stay in youth hostels when traveling. They generally offer little more than a bed, but they at least charge accordingly. It’s cheapest to stay in a dormitory with a bunch of strangers, but the option is often there for a private room, which generally offers little more than a bed and a sink. Another thing you have to do by yourself is research, because if you just take the first bed you find, it may well be crusty as all hell, or has only one private room and puts everyone else in a huge barracks with 12 beds.
And you know what? The “extras” often end up being there, but cheaper. For one, hotels are all about maximizing revenue once they’ve got you in the room, putting lots of stuff in the room that they’ll charge you for if you touch, and laundry is so expensive that you might as well not ask. Hostels are the opposite. WiFi is more likely to be free (though often limited to the common areas); food and drink is often available from vending machines at reasonable prices, or you can buy food at the supermarket and cook it in the kitchen. There are coin-operated laundry machines.
Also, it encourages travelers to make friends with each other, go out together, exchange stories, come out of our shells. The most consistent thing you’ll find at hostels is a friendly atmosphere. Even the ramshackle mattress-on-the-floor hostel with the plumbing problems will have a campfire out back with Australians enjoying some beer out back and trying to talk the Japanese guy into taking his guitar to an open mic night. But that dynamic won’t go away just because you’re staying in the sparkling hostel in Seattle with the giant common room and kitchen overlooking Puget Sound, right next door to Pike’s Place Market. They have a TV room, but I don’t think anyone’s ever down there.
Every so often I think I’ve gotten too old to stay at a hostel, but then I spend a few nights in a hotel and it’s just me alone in a cavernous room with a bottle of water that they’ll charge me $3 for if I open it.
I think you’ve reminded me that I need to go to Seattle again.
I could do without the daily maid service (every other day would do), phone service, iron/ironing board, or a fridge full of a bunch of over priced stuff I won’t eat. I do like having the cable tv though as it is sometimes nice to watch tv while the fiance gets ready in the morning or just before going to bed.