Thursday, March 24, 2011

OPINION: Hotels Should Offer "Adults-Only" Accommodations

Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, can be exhausting enough. And when you share the floor with fellow guests who are less than considerate, it’s all the worse. It’s time hotels became more proactive when placing their guests.

A good night’s rest when traveling, particularly when traveling on business, is essential. Far too often, noisy children in the halls or rooms nearby have interrupted or delayed my much-needed rest. . .and I know I’m not alone.

Hotels should adopt a simple remedy for this situation: separate the families with kids from adults traveling without children.

At colleges and universities, there are quiet dorms and there are “party” dorms. There’s no reason most hotels couldn’t separate their guests in a similar manner.

Here’s how this could easily be done in all but the smallest hotels:

Most hotels have more than one floor. Guests with children could be placed on “Family Floors” so families with kids are close to other families with kids. Family Floors would be BELOW the adult floors so that stomping, hall-running, bed-jumping, etc., would not radiate to the rooms below.

In larger hotels, entire wings could be designed “For Families” or for “Travelers Without Children”. At even the smallest hotels, families could be placed at one end of the building and adults at the other to keep them as far from each other as possible.

If hotels adopted this approach, brand reputation would quickly follow. In the cruise industry Carnival and Royal Caribbean have the reputation of appealing to younger cruisers while Seabourne, Crystal, and Cunard cater to the more mature traveler. So it could become with hotels.

To use the Starwood family as an example, Westins could cultivate the reputation of catering to traveling couples or business professionals while the W and aloft brands might become known as catering to younger, traveling families.

With a slow economy resulting in fewer trips and occupied room nights, this could be a way for hotels to lure more business (and adult leisure) travelers to their hotels.

It could also be beneficial to the hotel staff. In my observation, adult travelers (especially business travelers) tend to make fewer demands and leave larger tips than traveling families.

While on disaster relief duty, I spent approximately three months at one hotel that offered a “Manager’s Reception” including complimentary beverages every evening of the week. During the week, when the guest load was predominantly business travelers, our bartender Ben usually received $1 tip per drink; sometimes more if it was a more complicated drink than a vodka/tonic or rum and Coke.

On the weekends, when families with kids joined the reception, Ben worked especially hard to concoct special non-alcoholic drinks for the kids while pouring both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments for their parents. Despite his obvious efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty, there were many times Ben received nothing. He got stiffed. Zero. Zip. Nada. Bupkis.

Despite that unfortunate example, I’m not suggesting families get second-class service; the reality, however, is that kids will be kids, no matter how hard parents may try. And while your child may indeed be a future Supreme Court Justice or President of the United States, I don’t want them keeping me awake (or waking me up) until they’re actually in office.

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