Travel Points in Return for Reduced Services

by Michael on Sep 6, 2013

Photo of a Hotel Sign

I’ve been staying at a Westin hotel for the past couple of nights. When I checked in, I was greeted with an interesting query.

“Would you like to participate in our Green Choice program?” the clerk asked.

Unsure of what he meant, I asked for details. As it turns out, you can decline housekeeping services in return for a $5 food voucher or 500 Starwood Preferred Guest points per day — not including the day of your departure.

While this is offered in the name of environment-friendliness, similar to the “we’ll only replace your towels if you leave them on the floor” thing, it’s really a cost-saving measure on the hotel’s part.

Sure, you’ll save some water, detergent, etc. by opting in, but the real savings is that they can reduce their staffing. Better still, that $5 food voucher might entice you to eat in their restaurant, resulting in more profit.

And those reward points? Dirt cheap. Plus, they help build brand loyalty.

But here’s the thing: if I’m not staying for very long, I don’t really care if I get maid service. In fact, in some cases, I’d prefer not to be bothered by a maid.

In the end, I opted in. I didn’t need the food credit, so I took the points. To be honest, 500 Starwood points are worth very little to me — I’d much rather have five bucks cash — but the maid service was worth even less.

Have you ever run into this sort of thing? Going forward, I expect to see even more incentives designed to entice consumers to trade down their level of service as businesses seek to streamline their operations and increase profitability.

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