Check In, Turn Down, Drop Off – The Mystery of the Hotel Turndown Service

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Our editor takes a lighthearted look at a particularly baffling hotel “amenity”…

As we all know, the hotel business is a very competitive one. Go to Agoda and search for a 4* hotel in, say, Bangkok, Hoi An, or Siem Reap, and you’ll be given dozens, hundreds even, of options, most of them fairly interchangeable in terms of quality, facilities & rates.

As competing on rate alone is a recipe for disaster, many hotels offer an increasingly diverse range of value-added benefits to attract customers – free wifi, iPod docks, welcome drinks & the like are all attractive to guests, with the added advantage of costing the hotel very little. But there is one frequently offered benefit, of which hotels always seem curiously proud, that, for me at least, defies explanation, and that benefit is the turn-down service.

If you’ve never been turned down before, it’s pretty simple – some time in the early evening, while you’re out having dinner or carousing in the local taverns, the housekeeping staff sneak into your room Ninja-style and…wait for it…pull back the corner of the blanket or duvet, thus making it easier for you to get into bed on your return. Fantastic eh? Some hotels gild the lily a bit by leaving chocolates on the pillows or, in one hotel I stayed in recently, leaving an ornate paper scroll with a bedtime story on it on the bed (personally I’d rather have seen the time spent writing, printing and distributing said bedtime story devoted to teaching the chef how to cook bacon properly, but that’s just me) but the duvet bit is the essential part. Some hotels even offer the turn-down service as an optional extra – yes, you can actually call reception and ask someone to come & turn down the duvet for you. I think I’d feel less ashamed calling reception & asking them to wipe my bum for me.

Now, I’m one of the laziest chaps ever to check into a hotel, and I always enjoy the experience as it means someone else has to clean up, make the bed and cook my breakfast. And if I’m staying in a hotel it usually means I’m either out having meetings, standing on my feet at a trade show all day, sightseeing/travelling, or out enjoying the local nightlife, and so when I return to my room I’m either jetlagged, tired, drunk or a combination of all three.

But never, in all my years of hotel-staying, have I been so exhausted or inebriated that I couldn’t even pull the duvet back to get into bed. But I was once so drunk I failed to notice the complimentary chocolate on my pillow, and woke up with it stuck in my hair. Maybe that’s a benefit too.

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About Author

Tim is one of representasia’s co-founders and the company’s CMO. He has been in the tourism industry since 1992 and has worked in Paris, London, Saigon & Bangkok. He has a strong background in operations, technology, sales & marketing. Representasia is his second business venture, following his founding of a successful Vietnam DMC in 2009.

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