retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about how Hyatt Hotels Corp. has announced that it plans to "offer free Wi-Fi at all Hyatt hotels worldwide, providing connectivity and convenience regardless of booking method or loyalty program participation."

And I commented:

Michael Sansolo and I have long puzzled over the fact that the more expensive the hotel chain, the more expensive internet connectivity seems to be. So it is nice to see one hotel chain that seems to get it.

MNB reader Mark Baum responded:

I was struck by your piece on MNB today regarding Internet Connectivity in hotels.  It is a pet peeve for me.  As a (very) frequent traveler I am often amazed at the internet charges at some hotels – and yes – many pricey properties in the mix.  There are precious few that provide complimentary access for all guests, a few more that waive charges for loyalty program members, and many that not only charge loyal card-carrying customers but have tiered pricing – so if you want high speed downloads you pay even more!

In today’s travel, work, leisure environment that just seems oddly out-of-date, and a poor customer service policy.  Remember the loan-shark like charges hotels used to tack on for long distance calls.  I wonder how many folks use an in-room telephone for so much as a wake-up call much less long distance communications these days? I applaud Hyatt for their decision and  – believe it or not, it will be a deciding factor when choosing among “similar” hotels in the future!

MNB reader Chris Esposito chimed in:

I stick to Kimpton Hotels whenever I can (and since I travel to Boston a lot, that means three choices).  Sign up for the rewards program and for 7 nights and you get a free night, you get a $10 Raid-the-Mini bar coupon and free Wi-Fi.  And all the hotels have some unique aspect to their design, in my opinion.  Nothing like opening a free Harpoon IPA after a rough trip to Boston.

However, MNB reader Larry Owens is less impressed:

Hyatt may “offer free Wi-Fi at all Hyatt Hotels”, but I guarantee, it’s not going to be free.  Like any organization, they will recoup the cost somewhere else.

We also reported yesterday on a story in the Washington Post saying that "a recent survey by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics finds that over 80 percent of Americans support 'mandatory labels on foods containing DNA'." Which is the same number of people, roughly, who think that there ought to be labeling of GMOs in food. And which casts a least some doubt on the intelligence of the people being surveyed.

I commented:

I generally prefer to take an optimistic view of the American citizenry; I think they are not stupid and should not be treated by marketers as if they are.

On the other hand, stories like this remind of the great quote from H.L. Mencken, who once said that "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

My argument always has been that GMO labeling makes sense because companies will be better off in the long run if they pursue a policy of total transparency - that this is the smart strategy, even if it is the more challenging one. Are all Americans smart enough to get it? Maybe not ... but this is, in my view, should be a case of reaching for the highest common denominator.

One MNB user wrote:

I always get a laugh out of this sort of thing because it does make me take pause when thinking of what people truly know about their food supply.

However, I think most anything can be supported by a survey if one asks the question the right way... or the wrong way as the case might be.

MNB reader Duane Eaton wrote:

I wish I could share your optimism regarding the intelligence of the American citizenry, but what would explain the popularity of The Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, Jerry Springer, etc., etc., etc.  The average citizen knows more about any of them that they do GMOs.

You may be right. And now I'm really depressed.
KC's View: