Joe Brancatelli, Hotels, and Me

by Shelli Stein

I’m guessing you know who Joe is. I sorta do. I do know his name and have a vague idea of who he is. I’ll admit to never having read any of his work until recently, though. A while back a friend sent me one of his posts to read about Joe Brancatelli and hotels. Being that I write about hotels and maintain status with a few hotel chains, I did enjoy his take, his writing, and his humor. And the article did get me rethinking relationships, both with hotels and with myself as a traveler. I do have a few of my own thoughts, too, so thought I’d share them.

It saddened me, because I am the center of the universe, right, to learn that I, and we guests, are not the hotel’s best customers.

Joe upends my me-centered-thinking when he says, “As the largest chains now number their properties by the thousand, they are increasingly forced to kowtow to the real best customers: The hotel owners who are the franchisees of their multiverse of brands.”

Post-Covid Hotel Obsession to Reduce Costs

I have noticed the post-Covid obsession Joe refers to: reducing costs. Not at every hotel or at any particular chain. I’ve noticed these cost cuts during enough hotel stays to see it play out. And it’s become a topic of conversation among those of us traveling and staying at hotels.

As Joe points out, hotel owners are spending less on breakfast, less on housekeeping, less on elite perks, less on in-room amenities, and less on whatever they can think of to spend less on!

I’ve often thought to myself that hotels are trying to make back the money lost during the pandemic ALL during my hotel stay 🙂 I get the sense that hotel owners are winning when they butt heads with the hotel chains.

Joe says, “The chains are essentially giving hotel owners free rein to cheapen the lodging experience.” And of course we all know the prices at hotels have gone up as well. So more money out of our pockets for less services, which never makes a consumer happy.

But then it’s not about us but about how many excuses the hotels offer us for having made these changes.

I’m a take-things-into-your-own-hands kind of traveler. So the most fun part of Joe’s views on the state of lodging affairs was his solutions and ideas about what to do when taking what matters into your own hands is the only choice.

How To Fight Back When Hotels Cut Services

Joe’s first thoughts are about housekeeping. I have to say what’s been happening in hotels has been a pet peeve of mine even before the pandemic. And it’s gotten worse.

What’s with all the trash I see in the hallways either outside rooms or by the elevators?

I don’t mean bagged trash. I mean pizza boxes and all kinds of unbagged trash just left outside doors and in hallways. Joe suggests bring a few extra trash bags along and use them when needed. He’s a practical man!

At the very least, if you can’t find a garbage can on your floor, can’t find a housekeeper to hand it off to, or you’re just leaving your trash unbagged outside in the hall because you’re angry at the hotel, don’t force the other hotel guests to see or smell your trash. That’s just icky!

Make Sure YOU Don’t Waste Money by Overpaying for Hotel Rooms!

Joe also takes aim at the joe no longer being offered and served up at hotels any longer. Joe says, and I agree, that relying on the coffeemaker in your room is scary, both from the supply side and the hygiene side.

I never use mine. Joe provides a few tips, but I’m still not using my coffeemaker. And he’s a tea drinker, so we know he totes his own supplies 🙂

Need a fridge or a microwave in your room? Joe is a font of ideas.

I have been able to request and receive a fridge in my room. I think people are requesting them more often post-Covid. A few times I’ve been told they are all in use but when one is freed up, I’ll get it. And in fact this has happened on several occasions. I’m always glad to have a fridge!

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Joe is one creative condiment carrying guy! He carries an amazing assortment of condiments. And I thought I carried useful condiments when I travel 🙂 I was glad to see him mention my favorite one, so I know if I ever see him at a hotel I can borrow from his stash.

Final Thoughts on Joe Brancatelli and Hotels

Joe’s tips to ease our time on the road served as a wake-up call. Can you even get one of those at a hotel any more? It’s a harsh truth to see and admit, but never-the-less it’s time to get real about changes and take action. If Joe only lamented, without offering workarounds, I don’t think I would have enjoyed his article as much. I’m sure Joe isn’t reading this because well, he’s Joe and I’m a small voice in the expansive world of travel writers. But if Joe does catch me and my condiments at a hotel, I’d gladly give him a trash bag or two!

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Christian August 6, 2022 - 12:34 pm

Never heard of Joe before although I may look into him now.

As to the self-serve options you mention, I think your take, while generous, isn’t going to fix the shortcomings you list. Unfortunately, only holding the hotels accountable is likely to change things back toward a more balanced perspective. If the hotel chains won’t force the hotels to maintain reasonable standards it’s up to the customers to do so.

I almost can’t describe how much I despise complaining during a hotel stay but if I feel that I’m being intentionally shortchanged I’m going to say something. If that fails I’ll email the location and/or corporate. If that fails as well then I’ll leave an appropriately rated TripAdvisor review.

I’m certainly no revolutionary but I do feel that a hotel stay is a business transaction. As such there should be a fair bit of implicit good faith but if the hotel fails in this it’s critical to call them out where they intentionally come up short. Otherwise, things will never improve.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Shelli August 6, 2022 - 2:12 pm

You comments are well stated, Christian. Like you, I’ll actively address my concerns/complaints to the appropriate party. I do find, across hotel chains, that most people are indeed trying to do their best. The tone of the service is set from management. And apologizing goes a long way. I don’t at all travel like an entitled guest. I do agree that it’s a business transaction and my expectations are definitely lower than in the past. In that sense, it’s easier to meet or exceed my expectations 🙂 And once in a while a soapbox is a good place to be!

Joe Brancatelli, Hotels, and Me – Travel Blogs August 6, 2022 - 1:30 pm

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Joe August 6, 2022 - 7:21 pm

Shelli, Glad you found some of my tips useful! Cheers — Joe Brancatelli //

Shelli August 7, 2022 - 1:14 am

Thanks much for reading, Joe, and looking forward to many more tips!


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