My aunt asked for my advice on an issue, and she asked me to seek another opinion, so I'm taking it to the masses:
My aunt and uncle migrated to Florida after retirement, but her two children still live up north, in the same city. She goes to visit them once or twice a month, and since they both have small apartment with roommates, she springs for a hotel. She stays at the same hotel each time, which costs maybe $100 per night.
The hotel has a free breakfast buffet every morning. It has the usual smorgasbord of scrambled eggs, potatoes, muffins, fruit. My aunt got into the habit of taking two or three containers of food to go from the buffet, and using that as both her breakfast and lunch.
Recently, the hotel removed all the to go containers, and my aunt is convinced that it was because of what she was doing. Because of that, she felt offended and started staying at a different hotel.
Apparently, all her friends told her what she was doing was horrible, and the hotel's response to her was appropriate. I'm the only one who disagreed. She was spending about $10,000 a year at that hotel. What's the difference if she took a couple of containers of scrambled eggs that they were probably going to throw out anyway? Is it really a smart business move for them to antagonize their steady customer and lose all that money?
I've got to side with the hotel on this one. If it were just one container, maybe. But imagine if every guest took 2 or 3.. :)ReplyDelete
With that said, if I had a place I stayed at and I liked it, I would want to speak to them directly about this rather than just assuming they removed them because of what I was doing. It might be that someone - or many people - took a whole bunch of to-go containers and left them in their hotel room and they felt like it was wasteful
I would also want to speak to them about a bulk discount for that kind of money spent on hotels. :)
Maybe every guest shouldn't be allowed to do that, but if I had a person who is spending $10,000 at my hotel every year, I would tell them they could take a couple of to go containers if they wanted. She probably be happier with that then a discount on the room. I just think it's good business to make your best customers happy.Delete
It's an issue of where you draw the line. How much money should a person have to spend in order to get special treatment? How far should that special treatment go? Is one steady customer worth potentially sending a message to dozens of other patrons that this hotel brazenly plays favorites; that simply spending a night or two won't get you access to some services that someone else gets? Many hotel chains already have reward point systems that entitle you to free upgrades; I would be upset at a hotel if someone had different privileges regarding something like food and I was told "oh, they come here often, so we allow them to, but you can't." As a patron I wouldn't care if they lived there year-round, I wouldn't think it was right.Delete
That said, unless it's a very small hotel that doesn't get many guests throughout the year, I'd be very surprised if the hotel changed its policy all over one person. They opened themselves up to this issue by having to-go containers at all, and presumably not having a sign up about limiting how many containers are used or taken out. I don't recall staying at a hotel that provided to-go containers; if anything, it sounds more like this hotel is conforming to industry standards. I would advise your aunt not to take it personally. I don't think that she did anything wrong if the hotel itself provided the containers and didn't have a request about limiting the number used... but it's interesting that she immediately felt that the policy change was due to her. That strikes me as the mark a guilty conscience.
She did feel guilty about it. But I don't think she should have.Delete
I don't think it's a matter of special treatment so much as doing what you can to keep a very good customer.
If the to-go containers were provided by the hotel (as compared with a patron bringing them in from the outside) then I'd agree, she shouldn't feel guilty about what she did. I just disagree with this notion that the hotel did something wrong. As I mentioned elsewhere, we don't know why they eliminated the containers, and I think it's too much of a jump to immediately take offense and assume that it was because of her actions. If you look at it that way, then how could the hotel have known that eliminating those containers would have caused your aunt to feel slighted and take her business elsewhere? Did she write in with some formal compliment about the containers, or a complaint when they were removed?Delete
Sorry Fizzy but it's theft plain and simple.ReplyDelete
Your aunt paid for room and breakfast, not room, breakfast and lunch. There's always some jerk who will try to abuse the system and it's quite normal in Europe, especially in holiday resort hotels, to have signs in the restaurants saying 'No food to be removed from the restaurant' or similar.
I don't know about the USA but in the UK $100 a night for room and breakfast is pretty cheap, even more reason not to abuse what's provided.
I don't quite understand the maths here either; $10,000 a year at $100 per night is 100 nights a year. That's two nights for every week of the year, which sounds a lot more than once or twice a month!
Fizzy, I love your blog but I don't think this post was appropriate for it. Just my 2p worth. :-(
The math is that she didn't just go for one night. She would stay for an entire weekend or longer. And the cost wasn't always $100, sometimes it was 200, sometimes as much as 300, depending on the season. The hotel manager told her once that she was their best customer.Delete
I don't think it's theft if they have to go containers. She was taking advantage somewhat, but she was also giving them a huge amount of business. Actually, in the past, there were some people who worked at the buffet who would hand her extra containers, telling her to take more, because they knew she was a good customer and they liked her. But occasionally she said some people would give her dirty looks.
You may disagree with me, but I'm not sure if you can say that something is inappropriate to post on my personal blog. What does that mean? I'm pretty sure I can post whatever I want here.
I wouldn't do it.ReplyDelete
I wouldn't do it either. Left over scrambled eggs are pretty gross.ReplyDelete
I completely agree. Four hour old scrambled eggs are not my idea of a good lunch. That's why I feel like if there are a few eccentric customers who want to take the eggs that are probably going to get thrown out anyway, why not let them?Delete
If they were okay with that then it is fine!ReplyDelete
But I wouldn't do it. For some reason I feel guilty if I took the free shampoo and soap hotels put in bedrooms. I'll use it, but never take it.
I would suspect the problem wasn't one person but a lot of people. The buffet got expensive, they needed to cut corners, and that is what happened.ReplyDelete
I have seen the same thing happen at another buffet. The idea I think is that they may have the to go containers to finish what you had, not that you'd be taking enough for extra meals.
I know it may not seem a lot, but think 2 meals at the cost it is to maintain a buffet, and you'd see it was an issue for the hotel. I had happened to ask at a place and have worked with some of those working in the business.
I'm also sorry about the "jerk" comment. Not everyone knows about these things, and no one knows what the hotels' finances are that might have caused some issues too.
I hear what you're saying, but I'm thinking about this from a completely business oriented perspective. Their decision to eliminate the to go containers cost them $10,000 a year in business just from my aunt. To me, that doesn't seem like a good business decision. It's like if a store that sells lobster decides to cut back on giving butter with the lobster. Isn't it better to provide endless butter so the people will buy your expensive lobster?Delete
I just don't see how scrambled eggs and potatoes could've been costing them enough to want to antagonize their customers.
Since you say you are talking from a completely business oriented perspective, I assume you know what it costs to run a commercial kitchen which you would have to have to provide perishable hot foods. $10,000 K to run, maintain,and staff a kitchen per year, probably about right if you are "only" providing a buffet breakfast. It could easily have been a running at a loss.Delete
Right, but it's not as if they can eliminate the kitchen. Providing enough extra food for a few eccentric customers to grab a little extra probably doesn't cost that much. It would've been much more understandable if they eliminated the buffet altogether.Delete
eccentric or greedy?Delete
Breakfast buffets are pretty standard at mid-range hotels. "To-go" containers, as far as I have experienced, are not. We don't know what the hotel's thoughts were regarding eliminating the to-go containers. You and your aunt seem to be working under the assumption that it was targeting your aunt directly, which in turn is causing her to shun the hotel and declare that she won't give them any business. For all we know, the hotel was perfectly fine with your aunt but the to-go containers were being abused by other random customers.Delete
Looking at it that way, I'd say that you're stuck on this from a personal perspective rather than a business-oriented one. Without looking at it personally, then how could the hotel know that they were going to lose her business? That's doubly true if they had a meeting to discuss how every other patron was taking out enough food for two, three, or four meals. We just don't have enough information. If that's the case, how could the hotel have known that your aunt would feel slighted and take her business elsewhere?
I'm assuming you've told us everything you and your aunt know, of course. If the hotel manager came out and told your aunt that they changed their practice specifically because of her, then it's a different story. Otherwise, there are plenty of other possibilities that don't involve targeting your aunt specifically.
We're there plates available too? The containers would allow patrons to take their food back up to their rooms, w/ them on the go, or even outside to eat their meal instead of in the dining area. Also, many people will take a few pieces of fruit or an extra container or two of yogurt after eating their meal to snack on later. It's not something I would do (those buffets are never good the first time, let alone warmed up for another meal--SORRY)!ReplyDelete
I'm sure there's extra food when breakfast is over; so perhaps if your aunt waited until closer to the end of breakfast service (& ask for another container) it might've been less of a problem IF she was the problem. It's possible that the containers were too expensive or unable to be recycled so they stopped providing them. I really DO NOT think it was your aunt. Actually, is it possible they keep them behind the front desk & you have to ask for them?
Just a thought, you wouldn't be allowed to fill up multiple plates @ a buffet (salad bars, etc.) in order to have another meal or two & than ask for a too go box?
The bottom line, I'm pretty certain your aunt was NOT the reason the containers were removed.
Not that you need to be reminded, the last time I checked the title of this BLOG I believe it was yours, making no topic off limits? I like when you write about subjects that get a good debate going. It's just a shame that not all grown adults can share difference of opinions in a mature manner.
It's possible they didn't want to provide so many to go containers, although I can't believe those were that expensive either. Maybe they just didn't think it was that big a deal. I agree that it probably wasn't my aunt who caused them to make this decision. I'm sure they didn't think to themselves that they had to stop this woman who spends $10,000 a year at their hotel from taking an extra tray of eggs.Delete
Yeah, it always confuses me when people tell me something isn't appropriate to post on my own personal blog.
What's your aunt doing about this @ the new hotel? As I said above (4/12 @ 1:49 am), this was NOT the result of anything she did. However, if she felt uncomfortable staying there she's well w/in her right to move on. I sure hope she doesn't dwell on this too much longer & get back to enjoying the company of her family.Delete
An unrelated question........are you going to be an orthopedic surgeon when your finished? When are you finished? Meaning, if you wanted to go into private practice when can you hang your shingle?
Have a good week!
You are confusing me and orthochick. I actually finished my training quite a few years ago. I just don't write about my regular job much because I don't want to get in trouble.Delete
- What's the difference if she took a couple of containers of scrambled eggs that they were probably going to throw out anyway?ReplyDelete
None at all, which probably means that that's not the complete story. Without knowing their reasoning, it's hard to say what led to the change.
- Is it really a smart business move for them to antagonize their steady customer and lose all that money?
No, but do they know the change upset her? Or is your aunt jumping to conclusions that they're out to spite their 10k/year customers for no reason at all?
If it were me, I would have taken the issue to the manager if it was something that made me upset enough to leave a place I went to frequently, and made sure that they at least got the message as to why I was leaving. Maybe they'd bring them back in some way (keep them behind the desk?) or give me some special dispensation. They're not mind-readers.
That's what I told her to do, but she didn't want to. Apparently, she found another hotel she likes better now.Delete
Is she gonna steal food from the new hotel, too?Delete
I'm not sure why she thinks its because of her that they changed their policy? I don't think its a big deal to use the to go containers that were provided by the establishment for their intended purpose. I wouldn't do it, mostly because I'm picky, and old scrambled eggs sounds disgusting. But I often grab a fruit or yogurt to snack on from the buffet.ReplyDelete
I would've told her the same thing you did---to talk to the manager and let them know the lack of to go containers was upsetting and may cost them her business. I'm 99% sure they would've done something to appease her and keep her business and if not they are stupid and deserve to lose her.
Tell your aunt it wasn't her. Rich people are allowed (entitled) to steal, that is what this country is built on.ReplyDelete
She's not rich so maybe that's what the problem was.Delete
I can't really imagine anyone eating at a buffet and then asking for a to-go box....a buffet is priced according to all you eat at that meal - not all you eat all day. In Europe I have seen many buffets where you can create a lunchbox from the breakfast spread, but always at a price. Would it hurt her PCP if she also needs a referral for a suspect mole and an order for a mammogram if she made the appointment for a BP check? It s a walk on rotten ice. Other patients may need to be bumped, other patrons may not get their breakfast choices?ReplyDelete