Not So Sweet Dreams

Could you go to work every day and knowlingly sell an inferior product while charging the customer full price? Apparently so if you work at the Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC Franklin Square. For that is what they do when they sell guests a room on a lower floor overlooking the alley. Let me tell you my story.

It is 4:29 a.m. and for the second consecutive night I have received an unexpected and most unwelcome wakeup call at my hotel: the sound of a large trash truck picking up overflowing dumpsters in the alley below my room. It is a garish noise capped off by the dumpster being dropped harshly to the ground after the trash has been dumped.

When I complained yesterday to the front desk, the staff was kind enough to offer to let me move to another room. But I only had one more night and that inconvenience wasn't desirable. I also assumed that the trash pickup was not a daily occurrence. The desk staff failed to share that the contrary is true. Oh, and they are charging me $239/night for my room.

Ironically, Hilton Hotels is currently promoting its cool new alarm clock that is so easy-to-use you'll never worry about missing a wakeup call. They're stressing the importance of a good night's sleep for the business traveler in today's competitive marketplace. The brand's new slogan? Take Me to the Hilton Where I can Wake Up With a Smile on My Face. Uh ... not so much.

So, here's the deal. I totally get that someone is going to be inconvenienced by the noise in the rooms facing the alley. Just let us pay for the quality of our stay. If we are going to be woken up early every day, we are receiving less value than people staying in rooms not exposed to this noise. Less value should be matched by less cost.

Go to a Broadway musical and buy tickets with an obstructed view and you pay less because they warn you about what you are getting into.

Luxury hotels often charge more for their roomier rooms, so why can't mainstream hotels create a pricing structure that matches room rate commensurate with the quality of the experience? Want a bargain room? We have a lovely little number with a guaranteed "good morning" that is sure to bring you bolting out of bed.

We live in a world where the consumer will increasingly expect to pay only for what is being received. It's time pricing for all products in all types of organizations and markets to be aligned accordingly. Or that we at least give people a buyer beware warning when they are sure to encounter the unexpected.

4:55a.m. Update
Just as I was about to fall asleep, the machine gun sounds of 20+ papers being dropped at every door on my floor brought me back to a full and upright position. Since it is obvious I am not meant to get any more rest, I am going to use the complimentary computer and printer in the business center (how nice, right?) to: (1) compose and post the blog essay you are reading, (2) write a letter of complaint to the general manager, and (3) create a "Buyer Beware" warning flier which I will slide under the door of each room facing the alley on every floor. Ok, I won't, but it sure would be tempting.

But much to my delight, I will be able to place that flier and a copy of this essay at the seat of every participant in the lower level meeting room where this hotel chain is having a national sales team meeting. Talk about unexpected good karma. What a great case study they will now have to start their day.

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