Even “cookie cutter hotels” need rooms for upgrades

Platform beds enhance the upgraded look of this hotel room

Platform beds enhance the upgraded look of this hotel room

Yes, there are hotels where every room seems like every other — where the architect might have used a cookie-cutter to complete the plans. There is a simple reason for this fact: cost savings. Straight lines, equal-sized spaces, and identical requirements save in building costs per room. In many ways, a cookie-cutter hotel is easy to maintain as well. Assignments of room attendants are easy and the front desk employees do not have too many room types to remember. But the best hotel managers will understand that creating some rooms that are “special” can be rewarded with incremental revenue.

The easy room upgrade

Here are some easy tips for upgrading a few rooms from the standard inventory:

  • Since the bed is the most dominant piece of furniture in the room, start by making it luxurious. Add a fluffy comforter, upgraded sheets, double the number of pillows (with a variety of firmness), and include accent pillows. Put the bed on a platform to eliminate box springs and frumpy bedskirts.
  • Ask engineering to mount a box valance for the window, add padding, and cover it with material to match the room.
  • Put a clock radio on the nightstand.
  • Add a fluffy, non-skid bathroom rug and four sets of oversized towels.
  • Upgrade the bathroom amenities. Visit the nearest bath store and negotiate a case price for shampoos, lotions, and two-ounce or larger soaps. Cotton balls and swabs are cheap but luxurious. Find a clever display piece like a small circle of mirror or a basket or a seashell. Roll some towels and washcloths in a residential way.
  • Upgrade the hangers in the closet. Adding two satin covered hangers is a very upscale touch.
  • Upgrade the lamps or lampshades if necessary. This can be as easy as spray painting the fake golden brass-look to a rich matte silver. Trendy lampshades can be found online, affordable and available in all shapes and sizes.
  • Include a coffee maker with coffee and a selection of tea bags, glass mugs, glass glasses, two plants, and the morning newspaper.

Cost of doing the above things? Roughly $500 in fixed costs and $6 in disposables. Charge $12 more each night and receive a payback in less than three months. If the market will bear, add a wing chair and ottoman with a floor lamp nearby, include robes and charge $18 more per night. New paint and/or wallpaper also refresh a room as does a change of carpet. Do it as the cash becomes available.

The key issue is to have a few “special” rooms available. Give the front desk and reservations staff a room type to sell “up” to and enjoy the incremental profit on the bottom line. The upgraded rooms should be mentioned to all guests because even if they don’t agree to book it, their opinion of the hotel has been raised just knowing these special rooms are available.

Based on an article published May 1999 by Gail Edwards, veteran hotel executive manager, author and housekeeping specialist.

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