The Pleasing Principle
As illustrated by a few folks who commented on my last post, "What Kind of a Hosteller Are You?", you can't please all of the people all of the time, and as a hostel manager I"m well acquainted with that truth.
From two guests staying in the same dorm, one thinking the room is too hot and the other believing it's too cold, to reviews on the Internet alternately claiming that I"m running a lawless party hostel or that we're a yawn-a-thon, people see the same things differently. I come up against this every day, but all I've learned is that trying to make everybody happy is a Sisyphean task...
The most recent example of this problem has come along with the now-common practice of guests travelling with a laptop, and their need for an Internet connection. When we first hooked up our common areas with free wireless years ago, we were ahead of the curve in providing it and I know a lot of guests booked with us because of it. (How do I know? Because every time the wireless went down, I"d hear, "I only booked with you because you said you had free wireless!")
Soon though, I - along with a number of our guests - began to notice that the vibe was being sucked out of the hostel; our limited common area space had been overtaken by silent, laptop-tapping zombies, and there was less space for guests who just wanted to hang out and, you know, actually speak to each other. We"d pleased the tech types but now the social set was unhappy, and true to type, vocal about it. To mitigate, we expanded the wireless throughout the entire building, and though all our guests are now happier, I am not.
The trend remains: with more and more people travelling with laptops, there"s a decrease in interaction between guests. It depresses me because I think the best thing about staying at a hostel is the potential to meet other travellers, and I hate to see that slipping away.
So, the increased wireless coverage has cleared out some common room space again and we"ve got a ton of organized activities that get guests together, still many are just as happy to be MSNing everybody at home. But who am I to judge what constitutes anyone"s good time -- especially considering that I wouldn"t even think about traveling without my own laptop. I know, I"m a hypocrite.
As with so many issues here at the hostel, I would worry more about it if it wasn"t for alcohol. Not my own consumption, mind, but for the travellers". Later on in the evening when guests start opening a beer or two, people tend to get less interested in laptops and more interested in human interaction, and besides, it"s hard to type with a drink in your hand. But not even liquor can please everyone, and once those folks chime in with concerns about noise and rowdiness, the whole process starts over again. I told you. Sisyphean.
P.S. Next time I promise to talk about something other than laptops and booze.