I wish it were possible to know the number of Holiday Inns where I have stayed and the number of nights I have stayed in them. When my parents and I traveled across the “lower 48″ states in the United States, our hotel of choice was Holiday Inn. Often, we planned our itinerary around the location of Holiday Inns. I loved swimming in the pool in every Holiday Inn we visited. Those were the days! In my work as a trial consultant since 1989, my travels have taken me across the United States, from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in many of the small towns where I have worked, Holiday Inn is the only hotel in town that can provide conference rooms as well as sleeping rooms for my research team and me. All of the first generation Holiday Inns (as opposed to Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, or other brands owned by the corporation) are predictably the same. I can close my eyes upon entering any sleeping room and know: the exact location of the light switch by the exterior door; the fact that the bed(s) and the bathroom are on the same side of the room; the location of the Kleenex (yes, Holiday Inns use the brand name) box under the bathroom counter; etc. The Holiday Inn is, to me, similar to an old and familiar friend. My work and personal travels have allowed me to stay in many other hotels, including prestigious brands such as the Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and more, but none of these hotels have the familiarity of a Holiday Inn. During the pandemic, when David and I have traveled to various cities to conduct mock trials and focus groups, none of the hotels where we have stayed, with one exception, have completely figured out how to make guests comfortable with the new safety protocols that are now in place. The only exception is, you guessed it, Holiday Inn. If only other things in my life could be so predictable!
It has been interesting to see the world adjust to a pandemic with microscopic particles scaring us all. Not that we are staying at hotels frequently like we did pre-pandemic, but for business and family reasons, we have, I have, traveled a little in the pandemic times. All hotel chains are making adjustments and taking the virus seriously. Yet, only one chain has been noticeably ahead of the curve, and that is the good, old fashioned, Holiday Inn. Two of them in recent months seemed to have really figured things out. For example, most hotels are minimizing housekeeping and providing extra towels, etc., but Holiday Inn specified an easy procedure to make this happen without having to contact the front desk or housekeeping. One of the minor details I noticed causing a problem in other hotels, is trash. With no housekeeping, and with people like Melissa and me, eating take out in their hotel rooms instead of eating inside a restaurant, trash adds up – but where to put it? Hotels often have trash cans around, such as by an elevator or vending area. What I noticed is that these are often too small to accommodate an increased amount of garbage, or have a small top, too small for styrofoam take out boxes. Holiday Inn figured it out by having ample trash cans, frequently cleared (in contrast to another brand’s property we stayed in this past week that had a trash can with a small lid, resulting in my leaving a bag of trash beside the can – where it remained 2 days later when we checked out). At the Holiday Inn, when I needed to order breakfast, their food service had been well planned with everything I ordered being well boxed, with all appropriate and needed plastic ware, condiments, etc., carefully thought out. Similarly, other precautions had been taken, and “rules” were being followed and enforced. In contrast, we have noticed many other hotels where there are “gaps” in one way or the other. While it is difficult to recall all of the minor details, there were enough of them for us to make note that, “leave it to Holiday Inn.” It seemed that they considered the changes from the perspective of a guest. Not just following a corporate list, they seemed to have considered these details as a “user.” So, we are championing Holiday Inn for these efforts – it is much appreciated to us road warriors!