When guests book hotel rooms, the confirmation email typically includes some strict language around the non-refundable policies and cancellation penalties of the agreement. At the recently opened SCP Hotel (which stands for Soul, Community, Planet) in Colorado Springs, though, the disclaimer gives guests the comfort of knowing that they can actually ask for an adjustment to the price tag. It’s an innovative approach called the Fair Trade Pricing program, designed to allow guests to determine “the price they pay at check-out based on the quality of their experience,” according to SCP’s website.
There’s some guidance — guests make their reservations based on suggested rates — to help deter those who are aiming for a free stay, but Ken Cruse, founding partner and CEO of Soul Community Planet, told Convene that the property hasn’t been overrun by travelers in search of free accommodations. In fact, in the more than four months that the hotel has been operating, only one guest has asked for a price reduction, and Cruse acknowledged that the guest deserved much more than the $15 credit he requested. The hotel was in the midst of completing a $6-million renovation, and the closing stage of the construction caused an issue with the hot water.
“It tells you that people are fundamentally good,” Cruse said of the single request for a cheaper stay. “If you deliver on what you’re going to say you’ll deliver, guests will hold up their end of the bargain.”
Part of the reason may be because of SCP’s staff. While big brands continue to replace the human experience of check-in and service requests with the efficiencies of mobile app notifications and chatbots, Cruse said that SCP operates with a different mentality.
“We’re never going to be on the leading edge of tech advances,” Cruse said. “We are taking things a step backward and reverting back to that high-touch interaction that the industry used to be known for. When a guest comes in, they know they’re not face-to-face with a corporate entity. They’re talking to a real person who helped them, and our employees have the ability to be themselves. Some of them have purple hair and tattoos. It’s not a total bohemian hippie spot, but it’s a place where everyone truly cares about the brand.”
The media has taken notice: SCP was named one of U.S. News & World Report’s 30 New Hotels to Check Out in 2019, and was featured in The New York Times as an example of a hotel carving out its own space in the hospitality industry.
David McMillin is an associate editor at Convene.
Read a previous story about SCP Hotel here.
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