Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Let's See, Should I Pay $189, $95, or $70 For Pretty Much The Same Hotel Room & Services?

I have a good client in Columbus, Ohio, and they let me choose whatever hotel I prefer. The fact that they are a Fortune 50 company gives them the clout to negotiate some pretty good rates. I prefer Hiltons, so I called and visited three of the Hilton brand properties, all very close to the client site.

The "real" Hilton quoted me a corporate rate of $169 + $10 parking per day + $10 internet access per day, for a grand total (before tax) of $189. As a Diamond member I would get a free upgrade to the Concierge Level, which would give me access to the lounge, which serves some pedestrian snacks in the evening and a pedestrian Continental breakfast. Also, some free USA Today newspapers. Kinda steep, I thought, for Columbus, Ohio. But they bragged about their brand new big comfy beds and great TV cable channels. Hmmm.

The Hilton Garden Inn down the street offered a corporate rate of $95 (before tax), a price that includes free parking and free wireless Internet access. The Hilton GI also served pedestrian snacks in the evening (to all guests, not just elite HHonors members) and a pedestrian Continental breakfast (ditto). Free USA Today newspapers there as well. Not a bad deal. And they ALSO bragged about their brand new big comfy beds and great TV cable channels. Hmmm again.

Last place I checked was the humble Hampton Inn, the entry level Hilton brand, at the bottom of the Hilton totem pole. $70 a night (before tax) which, like the Garden Inn, included free parking and wireless Internet. The Hampton did not serve much in the way of evening snacks but they did serve the same pedestrian Continental breakfast as the GI and real Hilton. And free USA Today newspapers delivered to my door. Hey, this is a great deal, I thought, but what's the catch? What about the comfy beds? Turned out the Hampton had just upgraded all their beds to the same luxurious standard as the other two brands and had brand new large flatscreen TVs in every room to broadcast their many cable channels.

Just to satisfy myself, I tried all three Hilton properties over three successive weeks. And I found that the only real difference among the three is the price, just as it appears. Sure, the real Hilton has some fancier trappings, and it has a restaurant and bar (neither the GI nor the Hampton have real restaurants or bars). But the premium to have dining and drinking access in the same building was $119 PER NIGHT! The difference, times five nights, comes to an astronomical $595 a week, or a whopping $18,000 over my 20-week project.

Still, it was completely my choice.

I have been entirely happy at the Hampton Inn. As a management consultant, my life's work is to help my clients increase profits, save money, be more efficient, and increase productivity. It was an easy choice for me to stay at the Hampton.


Blogger Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

THANK YOU for touting the Hampton Inns. I've been staying at them for years during both business and leisure travel.

My last 3 recent stays (3 different states)included free Wi-Fi in the room (plus a DSL cable) and everything else you named--at no additional charge. My room also had a radio/alarm clock that didn't need an engineer to use, a lap pad for writing/reading in bed and one even served a sleeve of Oreo Cookies and a bottle of water--FREE!

I'm glad to see Serious Business Travelers giving these types of facilities a nod.


9/01/2006 2:08 PM  

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