I've been doing a lot of traveling lately -- both for business and pleasure. And for whatever reason, my travels have often been booked in places like Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites, and Hampton Inn & Suites. The common theme in these types of hotels is good value, clean room, and usually free extras like WiFi, breakfast and in the case of Embassy -- my personal favorite -- Happy Hour.
These aren't the high end hotels with lots of high end services. That is a very different type of hotel and a different type of stay. No these hotels are clearly aimed at providing a good value for the traveler that basically wants a bed, some grub and free WiFi.
But as I sat an ate breakfast with my three boys this past weekend at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Jennings, LA -- a lovely hotel by the way for you I-10 corridor travelers -- it hit me. These types of hotels are the modern day Beds and Breakfasts. They basically give you both and the later is served in a quasi-communal manner, much like a true B&B. In fact, as I sat with my boys, an older couple seated nearby took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with us -- and of course, commented on the boys, especially the youngest (2yr old).
Which is exactly the kind of incidental conversation that makes B&B's kind of a cool alternative to hotels. Which is the point of this post.
I wonder why none of these hotel brands has or is exploring this kind of B&B'esque positioning. B&B's are known as quaint, cool and of course, higher priced. So by positioning as a modern day B&B for the 21st century, technologically savvy traveler, wouldn't they be putting themselves in a better position to justify a slightly higher rate? In the case of the Embassy Suites in Austin (link above) we enjoyed a great little happy hour and a truly good breakfast buffet -- and as a family of 5 (my daughter stayed back in New Orleans) total savings was easily in the $70 range -- which made my actual room rate near $79-$89/night... a pretty awesome deal for Austin, Texas on a Longhorn home game weekend.
And in the case of the Hampton in Jennings -- they had this really cool table designed for laptop toting business travelers (pic above) where you could plug into a central power strip, eat breakfast and chat with fellow business travelers that like you, were dining solo. If you don't know the value of a casual dinner or breakfast conversation while traveling solo -- ask a real road warrior -- they'll tell you dining alone is a huge pain and gets old quickly.
So what do y'all think? Should these value chains or at least one of them consider a quasi-B&B type positioning? Would they need to add higher end services or amenities like better bedding, etc.? Could they pull it off with an ad campaign or would they need to include some kind of experiential or maybe virtual experiential/social media component? Personally I'm intrigued but are you?