Over the weekend, comedy website Cracked.com posted an essay entitled "5 Ways Hotels Have Changed for the Worse." (Warning: Probably not totally safe for work, but mostly for coarse language.) The article complains about several realities of modern hotels, including the greeting call, the "honor bar," reusing towels, paying for Wi-Fi and the lack of wake-up calls.
It's a funny piece, sure, but we could also look at some ways hotels have improved in recent years--including some of the exact ways Cracked claims they've changed for the worse.
1. The Greeting Call
Cracked complains that this call, received after the guest has checked in and arrived in his or her room, is pointless and intrusive. But with service being the new standard of luxury (more on that in a minute), hotel teams have to demonstrate that they care about their guests. Especially if a guest declines bellhop service and takes his own bags to his room, a call to make sure everything is in order and that the room is acceptable is a nice touch. It lets the guest know that the hotel team cares, and that's the first step in a truly luxury experience. If guests don't want to be contacted by the hotel team, they can say so at check-in. Otherwise, take advantage of the greeting call to ask for extra towels, a bottle of water, whatever.
2. Reusing Towels
Sure, not washing towels (or linens) every day for multi-night stays saves the hotels money—no hotel is a charity, and saving money on water and detergent helps the business. But sometimes, pragmatism has an added benefit, and if guests don't mind reusing their towels for two nights in a row, they can help the environment just a little bit. Maybe it's an afterthought benefit, but it's a benefit nonetheless.
3. Service is the New Standard
You can only make a hotel room so big before it no longer matters. And that fancy rug will get worn down by countless feet before you know it. With increased competition among individual hotels and brands for VIP business, the new standard of luxury is no longer the room's decor (although the decor is certainly an important element), but the service that the hotel can provide. Dedicated butlers are increasingly common for top-tier suites, and different brands emphasize corporate philosophies that cater to guests' needs. W has its "Whatever/Wherever" service, while Ritz-Carlton allows every staff member of the hotel to instantly authorize several thousand dollars in services or amenities to make guests happy—no need to wait for a request to go through the bureaucratic process. Knowing that your needs will be met is the new luxury.
We won't get into the "should hotels charge for Wi-Fi" debate here, but it's hard to argue that new tech elements are making hotel stays even more convenient...or at least more fun. Want a particular lighting mood? Hit one button and the room's lights will shift to a pre-set brightness. Want to open or close the curtains without getting out of bed? Hit a button on the nightstand and enjoy the view. (Or don't.) More on-demand movies are available than ever before, and plug-and-play options make it easy to hook up one's personal devices to the room's entertainment system. While Wi-Fi fees can (admittedly) be somewhat extreme, the convenience of watching "House of Cards" or "Game of Thrones" or "Blah of Blah" whenever you want is priceless.
5. More Food Options
Attracting top-notch chefs has become an Olympic-level sport among hoteliers, and guests are reaping the benefits. While large resorts always had a range of culinary options, more mid-scale hotels are offering more eateries than ever before--and some are even partnering with nearby external restaurants to deliver local specialties right to guestrooms. Farm-to-table and farm-to-bar are now ubiquitous around the world, making food and beverage as much a part of the locak experience as sightseeing. And hotels are also increasingly aware of dietary restrictions: Open any room service menu and you'll see asterisks and codes to indicate what meals are gluten-free, what are kosher, what are sustainable, etc. It all goes back to that "service is the standard" element: Guests get what they need and what they want, and the hotel that can provide it gets the repeat business. And in that game, we all win.