by Eric Bergeson, September 21, 2009
After trundling around the mountain states for the better part of two weeks, I have some suggestions for what has come to be called the hospitality industry. In other words, motels and restaurants.
There is no doubt that traveling today is easier than it ever has been. People bemoan big chains, but before there were chain restaurants and hotels you could end up in some rough situations when you pulled into a remote town hungry and tired late at night.
However, in their quest for customers, even the big chains sometimes drift into pure silliness.
For instance, some customer survey must have revealed that people like fluffy pillows. Lots of fluffy pillows.
So now you enter some hotel rooms, you can barely find the bed for all the pillows. And they’re so big and fluffy that it’s like sleeping with a beach ball.
There’s no way you can scrunch these mega-pillows down to a manageable size. They pop right back. By morning, you end up with your chin stuck to your sternum. That isn’t restful.
If you’re going to supply six pillows per bed, at least two of them should be smaller than a bale of hay.
Second, supply a nail clipper for each room.
To make us safe, Homeland Security won’t allow nail clippers on planes. As you know, people who carry nail clippers often wield them as a weapon of terror. They’re as dangerous as shampoo and hand lotion, which you can’t bring either.
Even if you have a license to carry a concealed nail clipper, the metal detector will find it. They’ll confiscate it and put your name on the terrorist list with a bunch of gray haired ladies who also tried to smuggle nail clippers. So don’t even try.
However, by day five of any trip, you need a nail clipper. Nothing’s worse after a 500 mile drive than putzing around Moab, Utah at 10pm in search of a nail clipper.
A nail clipper on the bathroom counter of the hotel room would be a welcome sight, much more welcome than a bed buried in pillows that you just have to stack in the corner.
Third, if you advertise free breakfast, don’t put out a plate of stale pastries and call it breakfast. That doesn’t count. And don’t provide thimble-sized coffee cups. A cheap excuse for a breakfast is worse than no breakfast at all. Add a little to the price of the room and make the breakfast good.
Fourth, don’t put those little plastic cards with scenes of jungles and parrots on the pillow that tell me I will sleep better knowing I saved the earth by not having fresh sheets put on the bed each day.
I am not that stupid. Hotels don’t care about the earth. They care about profits. Tell me that I can help keep the costs of the room down by suffering through another night on the same sheets. That I can believe. Skip the jungle scenes.
Fifth, skip the big sign that says you must be completely, utterly and giddily satisfied or you don’t have to pay for the room. It isn’t true. If it were true, I could complain about the big pillows and get a free room every night. I doubt that would happen.
Then there’s the restaurants.
First, corny descriptions on the menu are a waste of ink. We know that the pancakes aren’t just like them good ole flapjacks Ma used to make on the cast iron griddle. Cut the baloney and get to the point. Second, travelers don’t need to know that their server is named Mindy and that she’ll be taking care of us today. Just bring us coffee. Fast.
Then take our order. Fast. And bring the food. Fast. And don’t ask us how everything tastes after we’ve taken two bites, and four bites, and ten bites.
If somebody is picking at their salad like it has fleas, yes, come over and ask what’s the matter. But if everybody’s happily chowing down, stay away like you would from a hungry dog. Everything’s fine.
If everything is fine, bring the tab. Fast.
We want to hit the road.