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If I Could Design a Motel

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I do a bit of traveling. I attend conventions on a somewhat regular basis, and now am doing events to promote Sidekick and to pave the way for Brothers in Arms.

In all that time I’ve stayed in many different hotels and motels, ranging from beautiful to so bad they should be razed to the ground to protect the children. Yet none have quite managed to be just what I need when it comes to a hotel room.

You see, when I’m on the road, a hotel room is basically a place to sleep and prepare for the next day. If I’m doing a con, I’m working the floor. If I’m at a signing, I’m signing. If I’m on vacation, I’m out doing stuff. The hotel room for me is essentially just a bed and a bath. Screw the free HBO. Screw the TV entirely. It’s a place to sleep.

06-13-09_0829The greatest experience I’ve actually had at a hotel, believe it or not, was the Telemark Motel in Ellicottville, New York, mainly because it was the simplest. I picked my room on their website and paid for it with my debit card. When I arrived there was no check-in process at all, just a post-it note on the door to my room with an unlocked door. When I went in, the key was sitting there on my bed waiting for me.

I slept in my room and went about my business. When I came back, the room was cleaned and the bed was made and I was all set to sleep. The same thing happened the next day. When my stay was done, I just left the key in my room and closed the door behind me. No lengthy checkout process, just leave and that’s it.

That is how motels should be.

If I were asked to design a motel for a traveler like me, a lot of the dross that the hotel business feels the need to have nowadays would go right out the window.

First off, the room would be considerably smaller. Probably about 200 square feet, total, which would include a bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. Other than that, just a bed and a place to put my stuff. That’s all I need. Like I said, no cable TV. Maybe a mini-fridge and microwave but they aren’t really needed. Like I said, I do little more than sleep in my hotel rooms. More smaller rooms in a motel means that rates can be cheaper, too.

Second, let’s get rid of the reservation and check-in system. Put card swipers and keypads on all the doors. (This works, since you’re already using key cards at most motels already.) Small red or green lights would indicate whether a room was ready for rent or not. When you arrive at a green lit door, swipe your debit card and enter your pin. Enter your desired check out date (or open ended) and authorize the transaction. The room is yours. When you need to get in, just swipe the card you checked in with.

Every day a maid will come in and make your bed. Every other day you get fresh towels and clean sheets. No freaking mint on the pillow, just clean and move on, thank you.

If you selected a check out date, then your card stops opening the door at 1 PM on that day. You’ll also have the option of checking out early by swiping your card and checking out from the menu.

I’d love to just be able to pull up at a motel, swipe my card at a door, and have a place to sleep, then be gone in the morning. If I could do it for about $30.00 or less, even better. This is the kind of motel I’m waiting for, and the kind I want to use in the future.

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