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Does that deluxe room come with fries?

If you have ever eaten at an American roadside diner — a U.S. cultural dining phenomenon since the rise of the automobile — you know that a sandwich, burger or blue-plate special labeled “deluxe” comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and fries. You just know that at the diner, “deluxe” means extra food.

In the dizzying array of hotel room types that hoteliers use to describe the different sizes, shapes, styles and sleeping capacities of their room inventory, there remains the reoccurring “deluxe” room type. It appears to mean an upgrade from the ubiquitous “standard” room type, and as many travelers know, standard is different for every brand in every market.

For years, I have been asking my students when they do their hotel marketing audits of hotel websites if the description of the “deluxe” room mentions that it comes with fries.  To date, not one student has found a case where a hotel serves up French-fried potatoes with the room.

Lately, we have seen hotels label some of their room types in online descriptions in the most unique ways. Recently I have seen rooms called “mini” or “petite.” I guess I could relate the mini room to the miniskirt or Mini-Cooper or the “petite” room as shorter in length and in fit.

Perhaps with the advanced technology of today that allows shoppers to take virtual tours of rooms and view both professional and consumer-generated photos of rooms, room-type labels are less and less important in the shopping process. However, when it comes to room-rate parity, these labels do make a difference and have a role. As the industry conversation has begun to focus less on the imperative of rate parity, do room types make a difference to consumers?

What is the most unique hotel room type you have ever encountered? And can you find me a hotel where the “deluxe” room comes with fries?

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