Industry Update
Opinion Article 6 May 2019

OPEN or SHUT case?

By Terence Ronson, Hospitality Professional, Technology Consultant, Public Speaker and Inventor

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Ronson

Some of us travel more than others, and some more on business than leisure - but one thing we all pretty much have in common is that we bring some form of luggage with us containing our fresh clothes, and various whatnots to facilitate our travel.

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Over the last few years, many more travelers have gravitated to roller bags, you know the [often German-branded] carry-on type that just fits into the ever-shrinking overhead compartments on planes, which by my research the largest permissible size being 22" or 138L. We've also migrated to the four-sets of twin-rollers again making it easier to use especially when passing through ever-expanding airports and the ever-increasing number of security checks.

For me, I'm more of a three to five night traveller, rarely making the hurried 1-night, 2 day trips as some of my counterparts do - and so I usually take a full size suitcase sometimes half full on the way out, and very full on the way back replete with various shopping requests from family, friends and neighbors. And when I travel with my wife as I recently did for 3-5 weeks through Europe, stopping in 7 Hotels, we had 5 bags going out and 7 coming back, four of which were check-in type.

Now comes the main point of this article and that is - How do you use your luggage in a Hotel Room? For me, and my wife - we mostly live out of our suitcases - we have full size bags which contains stuff in the lid, and also the bottom half - preferring to have it splayed out flat, so both sides are exposed, with a few items hung in the wardrobe. That makes it easier to see what we have, and don't forget anything that may have been left in drawers or other places. However, the majority of Hotel rooms DO NOT provision for this type of luggage usage. Mostly they either have a small flat/ribbed surface inside a wardrobe where you can lay a closed carry-on, or one of those old-school tubular luggage racks that you can carefully position somewhere against a nicely painted wall so as not to cause any damage in your 20m2 plus room and hope not to kick it during the night when you find your way to the bathroom in the dark. But that kind of rack does not allow a full-size bag to be opened and laid flat - even putting two of these racks together does not work - since the bag most likely will slip and fall due to gravitational pull in the center.

In recent years, hotel design has focused a lot on tech gadgets, bed comfort, amenities and how to squeeze more into a small space - but how much consideration have the interior designers actually given to luggage and how the room is being used? Seems like a form over function argument to m

So, in my quest to better understand this issue on a global scale, on April 17th, 2019 I used the power of social media and posted a question on both Facebook and LinkedIn and below are the results - I have also included some of the quotes, but withheld names for privacy purposes. Originally, I wanted to keep it gender neutral but in retrospect there may be some element of curiosity out there of it being skewed so to provide better context, I have indicated: (F) = Female, (M) = Men

Question:

I'm curious - do travellers really use the drawers in Hotel rooms, or do they just live out of their suitcases?

Facebook

A poll on Facebook yielded 40 votes

  • 35% - I use the Drawers
  • 65% - I live out of my suitcase

Facebook Comments:

  • (M) Depends on length of stay
  • (M) Use hanging space but not folded space
  •  (M) Over 3 nights I use the drawers, 3 or under, suitcase
  • (M) If am there for more than a day, I use drawer. Absolutely
  • (F) It all depends on number of days - 3 or more days I use the drawers - 2 or less I live out of my case
  • (M) Early in my consulting career I used to, maybe seventeen years ago. Then, a colleague told me of the time his wife put her clothes in a drawer and when she went for them the next morning, they were covered in ants. Since that day I have not used drawer space. I tend to get a room with two beds and use one to spread out the contents of my suitcase in organized piles...
  • (F) Never use drawers
  • (M) Suitcase, unless I have a second bed, then the second bed is my open closet

LinkedIn

LinkedIn post results:

  • 9 Likes
  • 44 Comments
  • 7,187 views of the post

LinkedIn Comments:

  • (M) Suitcase for business trips; drawers for longer stay leisure
  • (M) If more than two nights, drawers!! Below suitcase 🧳! That's a good question to ask. So much unused space
  • (M) Depends on the length of stay. But even if not used the fact to have them makes you feel more like a home.
  • (M) Wherever the valet puts them 😂 suitcase for business except shirts/suits (hanging) and drawers for leisure (even weekend stays as am travelling with at least 1 other person)
  • (M) Never the drawers, but always the wardrobe and shelves within it.
  • (M) I hope we are not looking at starting to charge guests for drawers :)
  • (M) Depends on the time spend in a hotel room. If more than a few days, drawers every time.
  • (F) 2 nights or less, suitcase. More than 2, drawers
  • (M) Absolute yes for a resort / leisure stay, rarely on a biz trip
  • (M) Happy to share my process. Obviously, this depends on how many nights I'm staying and the kind of trip. For an overnight, the suitcase only. However, suits and shirts get hangars always. For 2-3 nights of biz or leisure, everything is out of the suitcase and into drawers or shelves, whatever works best. As used, everything gets put back in suitcase. One has to be ready to roll. All that said, a clean place to put things is a must when staying 2 nights or more
  • (M) Suitcase
  • (M) Suitcase & hangers in closet. Never drawers...
  • (F) Suitcase
  • (M) Suits and shirts on hangers in wardrobe at all times. For the others in drawers for longer period of stay only. Short stay in the suitcase.
  • (M) Suitcase
  • (M) If more than about 4 days I use the drawers.
  • (M) Suitcase resting on the single bed in a triple room! Unless it's a family holiday and the wife unpack everything ;-)
  • (M) Suitcase
  • (F) I use drawers if they are large enough and deep enough. I unpack when my stay is more than a 2nights.
  • (F) Suitcases

Now the above poll results may not be 100% conclusive in its findings, but I would say that it veers more towards people living out of their suitcase rather than using drawers - and when you look closely at your business mix, you will indeed have a better understanding how your rooms are being used. In fact it's even simpler than that, just ask Housekeeping to do a daily check and see if the drawers are being used.

So I challenge the industry to more closely examine this case (no pun intended) - maybe even have a University, Hotel School or Design Institute pick this up as a research project, to have a better understanding over Functionality vs Design.

I rest my case…

Terence Ronson

Terence Ronson is the Managing Director of Pertlink Limited. Now residing in Manila after almost two decades in Hong Kong, Terence launched his diversified hospitality career as a chef, later holding various general management positions with well-known hotels in the UK and Asia. In the mid-80s he developed his penchant for technology, and in 2000 started Pertlink Ltd.

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