One of the most frustrating travel experiences is shelling out big bucks for a hotel stay, only to find that the rooms don’t quite look like the photos, the amenities aren’t as advertised or the hospitality staff is unnecessarily rude. When that happens, you can’t help but feel cheated.
A new hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., is taking away that risk with a “fair-trade pricing” model — at the Soul Community Planet hotel, you can choose the price you pay for your stay based on the quality of your experience.
“We have two reasons for implementing fair-trade pricing,” said Soul Community Planet CEO and co-founder Ken Cruse. “First, fair-trade pricing is a tool to encourage prospective guests to take a chance on staying with SCP rather than with a larger, better-known corporate brand. Second, the concept of fair-trade pricing is highly consistent with the values of Soul Community Planet — it’s designed to start our relationship with our guests off on the right foot.”
The Move Toward a ‘Radical’ New Pricing Concept
Although fair-trade pricing is a new concept in the hospitality industry, Cruse believes it’s a change that was a long time coming — and one that travelers deserve.
“Over time, travelers have been trained to accept the traditional approach to hotel pricing where prices are set before the stay occurs,” he said. “Guest loyalty programs — through which travelers often ascribe a higher value to points and status than to the quality of the accommodations or guest service — have underpinned what we believe has become an inequitable relationship between travelers and brands. What’s surprising to us is that this [fair-trade pricing] concept — which on its surface is a very equitable way to price a service — is viewed as such a radical innovation.”
How This Name-Your-Own-Price Model Really Works
The suggested rate for SCP Hotel ranges from $90 to $200 a night, depending on the time of year, Well + Good reported. But what you actually pay will vary.
“We feel it’s unfair to expect our guests to pay a set price before they have actually experienced their stay with SCP,” said Cruse. “Guests shouldn’t be asked to blindly commit to paying a set price, nor should they have to haggle with the hotel if the experience doesn’t meet their expectations. The price our guests pay should be a function of the experience they’ve had — not an arbitrary value based on a yet-to-be-had experience.”
What You Can Expect From Your Stay at SCP Hotel
The pricing model isn’t the only thing that makes SCP unique.
“Soul Community Planet (SCP) was born out of a vision to make the world a better place by serving those who value personal wellness, social good and the environment,” said Cruse.
The hospitality brand delivers on those values by serving healthy, fresh food; having fitness and wellness opportunities on-site; providing green spaces for guests to work, relax and socialize; and using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials to reduce waste.
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The SCP Hotel Colorado Springs features a fitness center that offers TRX training, cardio sessions, yoga classes and a climbing wall, a provisions market serving up locally-sourced food and hip communal space. And guests seem to be enjoying the unique offerings.
“I frequently stay in hotels; most are unmemorable. The SCP Hotel Colorado Springs was a welcome change of pace,” said one SCP Hotel review.
What’s Next for SCP?
Although SCP currently only operates one hotel, Cruse said the brand has plans to expand.
“Our goal is to grow the SCP footprint smartly, but quickly, over the next couple of years,” he said. “The Soul Community Planet demographic is committed, growing and clearly underserved in most lodging markets in the U.S., so there’s plenty of room for us to grow. Our plan is to expand the portfolio by converting well-located vintage motels within strong travel markets into new, clean, fresh, modern, handcrafted SCP venues comprised of great fitness, creative co-working, healthy, natural food and beverage options, and superior, yet attractively priced guest accommodations.”
SCP expects to open 30 to 40 hotels across the U.S. within the next few years, Well + Good reported. And Cruse believes that the brand’s unique pricing model will be profitable, despite the variability in what guests will pay for their stays.
“By re-imagining vintage hotels into multifaceted venues with strong appeal to a highly committed demographic, we can develop our SCP venues at a lower all-in basis and, given the SCP approach to ‘Holistic Hospitality,’ we believe SCP venues stand to generate higher rates, occupancy and profitability than traditional branded hotels in our competitive markets,” he said. “While fair-trade pricing is just one small element of the SCP experience, we believe this policy will help to support our growth by encouraging prospective guests to give us a try.”
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Taylor Bell contributed to the reporting for this article.