How dumb do you think your customers are?

Save We give a lot of lip service to the idea of authenticity. 

But come on…do we really think hotels don’t want to wash our sheets and towels every day because they care about the environment?

I’d have a much higher opinion of the hotel if they said…if we can save a few hundred thousand dollars every year by not washing unused towels and sheets — we can keep your room rates down and pay our people better.

Tell the truth.  No one is fond of someone who talks to them like they’re a moron.

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20 comments on “How dumb do you think your customers are?

  1. John Rosen says:


    Excellent point! As you know, I travelon business virtually every week and I have that very thought every time I read one of those silly little notes. the difference between you and me, of course, is that you always figrue out a way to turn out an interesting post on the subject.

    By the way, I recently shared time as a guest speaker at a forum for retailers in Las Vegas with Joe Pine, the author of Authenticity. Given the success of his book, I suppose he is the expert on this topic these days. Anyway, he’s a very good speaker and he book is very good, too. If you haven’t read or reviewed his book yet, I’d encourage you to do so.


  2. Ed Moriarty says:

    I have to disagree with you on this one Drew. I happen to know for a fact Rick Hilton bathes in his hotels’ swimming pools and encourages his guests to do the same. So while the hearts of some hotel tycoons may not be in the right place, it’s unfair to assume all are taking advantage of the “green” movement.

    Heck, sometimes I take only a small bite of the mint on my pillow, then wrap it up neatly for the next person to enjoy. It’s about sacrifice, and those willing to make that sacrifice will be the saving grace of a country in peril. It’s like Rick and I always say, “Yes we can.”

  3. Matt Beckman says:


    I agree with you on this. The Going Green campaign is just a benefit from their money saving solution. The way they write their statement almost guilts you into using your towels more than once as you are directly killing the environment.

    I understand Ed’s point but I’m not sure if I would want to bathe in a swimming pool.

  4. Finally, someone who points out the obvious. Another great article Drew!

  5. Mark says:

    Often companies do talk down to customers, and I agree that is lame. In this case, however, I think you may be the moron. Unfortunately, large numbers of people in the US have migrated to what are essentially desert areas. Water shortages are serious and destined to get worse.

  6. Really good point. People would certainly respond to the cost-saving message as well, especially during lean times. And because the message is different from every other one they see, guests would take notice.

    Seems there’s an opportunity many hotels have to use “green” as a marketing strategy, way beyond the towels and sheets. There’s a modern hotel outside Dallas I stayed at that was just built completely green, and they make a point to talk about what they’re done. It goes with their contemporary design and branding.

    Existing hotels could at least take some steps like giving you places to recycle water bottles and paper, which travelers almost always have.

  7. John,

    I think it’s one of those things that one hotel started and probably bragged about how much money they were saving and voila…every hotel is suddenly all about the environment!

    I’ll have to check the book out — thanks for the recommendation!


  8. Ed,

    You are so right. Thank you for shedding light on this very important issue and for setting me straight!!


  9. Matt,

    I agree with you on the guilt. Maybe that’s why they took the environmental path, rather than just telling us we could save a few bucks?


  10. Scott,

    Thank you very much and thanks for sharing the post with your readers too!


  11. Mark,

    Oh, I am not saying that water conservation and the need for it aren’t real.

    I am saying that I do not believe that’s why the hotels want us to re-use our towels and sheets. I think they want to save a lot of money is labor and cleaning materials.


  12. Casey,

    I would be more inclined to believe the “we’re saving the world’s water” signs if the rest of the hotel’s operations suggested that they had thought about the environment.

    The hotel you’re mentioning can get away with the conserve water message because they’re walking their talk through the rest of the hotel.


  13. Réka says:

    I agree that this practice has first of all financial reasons and they advertise the environmental reasons because of its PR value, but:
    1. This practice is also good for the environment.
    2. Campaigns like this drive the guest’s attention to the topic, and perhaps make some of them think, what similar small things they can do in order to protect the environment (and perhaps to save money at the same time).
    So yes, it’s sanctimonious, but it also has a positive side.

  14. John Rosen says:

    I agree with Reka — It seems that a compromise, or balanced message is the right answer: “Yes, we’re saving money but we’re also saving water.” Done well, the communication of this combination of honesty and altruism would likely resonate. Exxon has done this for years: “Yes we make a lot of money on our offshore oil platforms AND they are great feeding and breeding grounds for fish.” As has Boeing: “We sell jet planes, but every new one is 25% more fuel efficient.”


  15. Reka,

    Interesting and valid points. I just would really appreciate them being honest about their motivation. I’m okay with also being educated or reminded.

    Just don’t want to feel like I am being duped.

    Great points — thank you!


  16. John,

    Yes, I agree — Reka made some very good points. I think the blended message is authentic. People aren’t black and white and neither are companies. By being honest about the self-serving part of the message, it makes the selfless message ring even more true.


  17. Heather says:

    Everytime I read the “Please conserve our water….” notecards, I feel (1) you (the hotel) are more interested in saving time and manpower than water (2)guilty about even using the towels I do use. These two feelings are not consistent with “Gee, I want to go back to that Hotel again.” I am not disagreeing with conservation or concern with the world’s ecology. I do disagree with the sincerity and the spirit of the ‘concern’ being utilized in other areas of the hotels. How about solar panels and compact lightbulbs?

  18. Heather,

    Exactly. The rest of their environment and behavior does not match the “let’s conserve” message. That inconsistency is a glaring spotlight on the fact that they’re not being very honest about why they want us to use old towels and sheets.

    They’ll need to actually walk their talk before we’d buy what they’re selling.


  19. I think we can be sure that saving money was though of when this idea first came up. Having said that it is extremely hard to believe they didn’t care at all about the environment. Most people rich or poor want to do the right thing. Not all but most.

  20. Tom,

    As one of the other commenters said earlier — I’d buy it if they were behaving that way all throughout the hotel. But it feels a bit “convenient” that they only want to protect Mother Earth when it comes to doing laundry.

    If they are doing other things, they need to tell us about them. Then, I’d buy it.


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