Thursday, July 20, 2006

Is Marriott a communist organization?

Rantingprofs has a post railing against Marriott for banning smoking in all of their hotels. The good professor won't stay at another Marriott, ever. I have to both agree and disagree.

First the agreement points:
I don't see why this will "tip" the rest of the industry. Some chain has to want the almost quarter of the population that smokes staying there.

Our money's just as green.

You want to levy heavy fines against jerks who smoke in non-smoking rooms, do it. But this is absurd.

This is a legal activity. At some point this just gets ridiculous.
Now while I suspect that the good Professor smokes and I don't, I agree with all of the above. I don't think it has gotten riculous yet if we ignore the state bans, but in theory it could.

But here is the problem with her implication that this is bad business or imperialism. A very small percentage (more like 5% than 25%) of hotel patrons ask for smoking rooms. People who ask for non-smoking, including me, get pretty mad when we get stuck in a smoking room. People who ask for smoking get pretty mad when they get put in a non-smoking room. Further, the cost of maintaining a smoking room is higher than a non-smoking room and smoking patrons don't want to see a surcharge.

The Professor is correct in saying that as long as their are a bunch of folks out there who want smoking rooms there will be somebody offering it....... unless the government steps in. Her arguments are my problem with government imposed bans like the one recently passed here in Colorado. If we could have gotten some business people to have been smart enough to ban smoking in their restaurants we may never have seen a statewide ban. There are a lot more people who don't smoke and don't go to bars because they don't like the smoke than there are smokers who go to bars. There are a ton more people who are annoyed by smokers 5 feet away while they are eating. I don't want the state to ban a legal act in public, I would have much preferred to be able to vote with my dollars and let the Professor vote with hers.

It isn't imperialism when a business makes a measured business decision. That is an illegitimate charge/implication. There are two legitimate charges to be found though.

1. It may be imperialism when the government enforces social rules rather than letting the free market decide.

2. If you want to smoke in your hotel room, Marriott (and by the way Westin some time ago which is my now-favorite home away from home) have said they don't want your money.

Love you to death Professor, but you aren't really leaving Marriott, they have essentially shunned you. I highly suspect there are chains out there who will happily expand their number of smoking rooms to accommodate you. Marriott and Westin have simply said they think people like me are going to make them more money than people like you so they are catering to me. Holiday Inn or somebody will soon have a "we will guarantee you a smoking room if you want one" add out. This will be aimed at telling us both that they are looking for your business that Marriott has shunned.

Look, I know people who ask for hotels without in room Internet access. We stay in different places :-)


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