A New Year and back to my regular traveling schedule! I have mixed feelings about traveling – I feel that I’m more disciplined and get more done when I’m traveling while at the same time, it’s hard to be away from home and not being able to commit to things in my home city. This past week, I traveled again for my project and my experience at the hotel was not to the standard that I normally get when I visit this hotel: first, when I got in, the pantry was closed. At this hotel and others, if you reach a certain level of loyalty, you can get access to the pantry where they have fruits, yogurt, salads, sandwiches, chips, trail mix, water, soda, and other items available for loyal guests for free. It did not bother me that the pantry was closed, in fact, the hotel was going through renovations so I expected that something like this would happen at some point in time and the offer for additional points was great due to the pantry being closed but when I got to my hotel room, where there would normally be bottled water available, I noticed that nothing was left out. This was a bit disappointing and meant that I would either have to drink from the tap or get water from the gym (one of my secret hacks to getting free water from a hotel). Next, when I went to shower, the water was only lukewarm at the hottest setting – which I suppose is not a huge problem but something minor like that is not what I’d expect at the hotel when all I’ve had are good experiences.
Given my not so good recent experience, I thought I’d share my own suggestions on how hotels could be improved. I’m also doing this because James Altucher has a practice called “becoming an idea machine” where he comes up with 10 ideas every single day – he says that his life has changed every 6 months he does this and the only way to know if this works for me is to do it. Here are some of the ways that I would improve hotels:
Express check in
On my phone, I’m able to check in but even though I’m able to check in through an app on my phone, I still have to go to the front desk to show my ID, show my credit card and get the room keys. After a long trip, I’m not too keen on talking to people – I’m misanthropic in that way – so why can’t I check in to a mobile kiosk that scans a code on my mobile app and then shoots out the room keys to me so that I don’t have to talk to anybody if I don’t want to? This would be extra streamlined if the kiosk is in the elevator and as you scan your code, the elevator automatically understands what floor your room is on and shoots you up the right floor.
Additional healthy food items in the pantry
I’m not sure if the idea is feasible as many times, healthy food options are more expensive than unhealthy food options but I’d like to see more options for healthy food items – rather than chips, maybe having vegetable chips; rather than having sodas, maybe having fruit smoothies; etc. It is super tempting to see lots of unhealthy options when you are hungry and I suppose it isn’t the hotel’s role to influence the guest’s decisions into healthier food options but it certainly would not hurt (again, I can see hotels not going this way if it impacts the bottom line too much).
Barbells in the gym
Again, not sure if the idea is feasible as I’m sure there may be greater liability issues with free weights and barbells but one of the things that I learned from Nassim Taleb’s book Skin in the Game is that the best gyms are the gyms that do not look like gyms (and in general, the things that do not look like that thing are the best things – so doctors that do not look like doctors are the best doctors, etc.). There’s dumb bells and benches and a few machines at the hotel gym I frequent as well as treadmills, bikes and ellipticals but I’d like to see some barbells and more options in the gym.
Work items / extra technology gadgets in the hotel room
I understand that this is available in other hotels but at least the hotel that I frequent, it would be interesting to see a drawer full of extra tech gadgets / work items that business travellers would normally need: an extra USB plug outlet, an extension cord, mobile phone charging cords, portable batteries, AA and AAA batteries, a wired mouse, mouse pad, a tablet stand – it does not have to be a lot of items and the hotels could even make a bit of extra revenue off these items (if the guests take any of the items with them, they would be charged similar to how they would be charged from taking from the mini bar).
Speakers in the bathroom / shower
Maybe this is just my own thing but I like listening to audiobooks and podcasts when I’m working out or doing anything that is routine and doesn’t require a lot of focused thinking – I tried to put bluetooth speakers in the bathroom when I’m showering so I can listen to podcasts but it really doesn’t work – the shower unfortunately drowns out the podcast but I’d love to see speakers built into the bathroom / shower or to even have a portable bluetooth water resistant speaker – though if it was built in, the hotels would not have to worry about guests taking the speakers (although they can also be charged for the speaker if they do).
Automatic black out windows
I always try to get the green points whenever I go to the hotel – that is, not having the maids or room service cleaning my room, fixing my bed, cleaning the towels, etc. – I do care about the environment but I also like just having more points for something that I otherwise think is wasted on me (I don’t need fresh towels or for my bed to be made every day). Interesting side note here – the bathrooms all talk about how much water you save by not having to launder the towels every day but the real motivation for hotels is that it saves them a ton of money. They certainly would not suggest the idea of not laundering your towels if it did not have a significant cost saving involved. One of the minor things that annoys me is having any light in the room when I’m sleeping and when room service comes in to clean my room, they always open up the blinds – a minor annoyance that could be solved if there was a button or something I could press next to the bed to black out the windows or to close the curtains automatically.
Exercise equipment in every hotel room
Here’s a crazy idea – instead of having an isolated gym on a separate floor for all hotel guests, why not ask for the guest preferences for gym equipment and then provide that equipment in the room for them. Want to be able to walk and run in the morning? Here’s a room with a treadmill inside. Want to be able to do some stretches at night? Here’s a room with some yoga mats and yoga equipment. Significant expense for the hotel? Yes. Good for guests that want to be able to work out in the privacy of their rooms? Absolutely.
Lending library at the hotel
I think I’ve mentioned this previously but whenever I travel, I get overly ambitious on what I think I can do on the bus ride, plane trip, train, etc. and bring many more books than I am actually able to read. Once I traveled back home and my Mom said that my books took up half my luggage. My Mom asked me how many of the books I managed to read and I sheepishly shrugged and grinned. I also know lots of travellers buy books on a whim while at the airport – wouldn’t it be cool to just be able to borrow and drop off books as needed with a mini library at the hotel?
The ability to order clothing as needed
This has happened to me multiple times where I either have forgotten to bring clothing or have been thoroughly unprepared for the weather. During those times, it’s easy to walk out to the mall (if you are close by) and grab the clothing you need. But everybody is busy so for an additional charge on top of the price of the clothing, the hotels could help you get the clothing you need while you are working or away and have it ready for you when you come back. Forgot to bring a pair of your dress shoes (it’s happened to me sadly) – contact the hotel before you travel and have it in your room when you arrive!
Humidifier and white noise machine
It could be that there is a humidifier in the hotel that I stay at but I haven’t seen anything like this – it would be certainly nice to have a humidifier when staying in climates that are fairly dry. In hotel rooms, because of the AC and other noises that come from the halls, noisy guests, street noise, etc. it would be awesome to get a white noise machine that helps to ‘block’ out the noises at night and to help guests get better sleep at night. You wouldn’t have to turn it on if you didn’t want it but having the option there would be really useful.
There you have it, a few suggestions, some good, some bad about how to improve hotels. What’s important isn’t to have all ten ideas to be amazing – it’s more important to get into the practice of developing ideas and stretching that ‘idea muscle’ that we all have. When we can come up with ideas, we come up with different options and opportunities and if we develop ten ideas every single day, at the end of the year, you will have 3,650 ideas. Chances are, maybe a few of those thousands of ideas are good enough to execute.
“Wow, some of these ideas are really good” – hey take them and run with it! I don’t mind you taking my ideas – I’ll just come up with another ten tomorrow!