Staying at the Sheraton Boston, the hotel room has an option: “Reward yourself with a $5 voucher at participating food … outlets for each night you decline housekeeping services.” My consumer surplus actually exceeds the $5: I would pay a little bit extra not to have the cleaning people in my room, since I wouldn’t have to worry about packing things up to hide them, nor about the cleaning people mistakenly throwing something away. So I take the deal. One friend here says this isn’t worth it to him—he likes having his room cleaned up each morning. This illustrates how crucial individual tastes are to determining the surplus we gain from transactions—and the choices we make, or don’t.
Canadian reader Lisa Sansom wrote to us about an interesting price promotion at Starwood hotels:
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We’re celebrating the year you were born. With this special offer for two or three night stays, you’ll receive rates equal to your birth year!
- First night: full rate
- Second or third night: rates equal to your birth year! (If you were born in 1948, you’ll receive your 2nd and 3rd nights at $48!)
- Rates for second and third night stays will be confirmed at check-in upon presentation of valid ID.
- Valid for arrivals Thursday – Saturday
I’m always suspicious of companies who tout how environmentally friendly they are, when being green happens to coincide with cost savings for the firm. The best example is the ubiquitous message you see in hotel rooms asking the guest, in the spirit of the environment, not to have the sheets and towels washed during your visit. I have a hard time believing that if the situation were reversed – that the green answer was quite costly – the hotels would be such tree huggers. (For the record, I don’t care at all whether my sheets and towels get washed, so I cooperate.)
At a hotel in China, I finally found a “green” message that I found compelling: Read More »
Rational? I’m at a hotel and was given a coupon allowing me to eat the excellent breakfast buffet at no cost. Sounds good; but instead, I go next door to Caribou Coffee and buy a coffee and blackberry scone for $5. Is this utility-maximizing?
I think so. I know that if I get the “free” buffet, I’ll eat a lot—probably orange juice and a large Belgian waffle with lots of syrup. Having pigged out over Thanksgiving, my weight is already up. Spending the $5 is a self-control mechanism: I know that once I’m done at Caribou, I’ll be sufficiently less hungry that I won’t want to spend time at the buffet (and won’t have eaten more than I should). There’s more to utility than increasing income and/or reducing spending!
You never know what you’ll run across while reading Yelp. While sussing out Philadelphia hotels, I came across this review:
First of all, let me just say that, if you can get a room, this is an excellent hotel. Don’t let the fact that a transgendered prostitute was arrested for killing an occupant here and tried setting fire to his room in November 2010. As with any hotel, you should be careful who you let into your room anyway.
The reviewer gave the hotel four stars out of five. It wasn’t the murder (which, though I was skeptical, was for real) that led him to deduct a star, but rather the low water pressure and bad hours at the fitness center.
And you wonder why companies are still nervous about the whole customer-review concept?