As people who are travelling while running our own digital business, we stay in mid-range places because we’re dependent on some of the conveniences they provide. Yet, it’s surprising how many little details a £35/night hotel in Southeast Asia can overlook.
For example, the hotel that seems perfect until you go to bed and discover that the pillow is a foot thick and as hard as a rock, meaning that you wake up the next morning with your neck bent out of shape, bags under your eyes and a ‘hangover’ headache that makes you rue the fact that you decided to have a night off alcohol the evening before.
That slightly weird smell hanging over the bed that you might be imagining, but which is magically ten times worse when you get home from dinner later. And realise it’s actually the sheets that smell. And the hotel reception is already closed.
That cute wet-room style bathroom, which turns out to have a clogged plug hole, instantly transforming the entire bathroom into a skating rink.
We’ve had places without a single place to hang a towel (you can never fully understand how annoying wet towels draped over doors or on the corners of beds can be before you’ve experienced it for a few days), places where the water pressure is so low that you have to lie down in the shower to wash your hair, (plenty of) places without internet connection in the room, and places where the only powerpoint in the room is at the single most distant point from the bed.
These things may sound trivial in isolation, but £35 isn’t nothing, and when you’re travelling longterm, and you have no control over your home environment, they can add up to a lot of frustration.
We’ve been living in hotels for the last seven weeks, which has been enough time for us to develop an adequate notion of value for money. We see so many classy-looking hotels when trawling through Booking.com (which we currently spend way too many hours doing) with ratings of 7 out of 10 or below, and correspondingly low prices, and it’s not hard to guess where they’re going wrong and how they get stuck in a cycle of having to drop their prices instead of improving their service.
In our experience, there are three reasons why a customer won’t return to a mid-range hotel:
- ambitious pricing but lacking in service and features which justify the price
- overall good value for money, but enough missing details to create an annoying experience
- no free hugs here: surly and unprofessional staff
Most of these things can be easily avoided and/or fixed, resulting in happier customers and more return business. This gave Alex the idea that hotels should hire Hotel Inspectors – people who stay free of charge in their premises as guests for 3-4 nights in order to evaluate the place and present recommendations in the form of a detailed report.
The job could easily be done part-time – and with the number of digital nomads increasing exponentially, there are plenty of people who’d be prepared to take on the challenge for not much more than the free accommodation in return. A win-win situation for both sides. Something hotels should definitely be thinking about.