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I’m staying a few days in Tokyo to speak at ad:tech about Social Media Tracking and ROI. It’s my first time in Tokyo, and when I arrived at my room last night I found this note:

“We are working toward protecting environment and energy saving pertaining to the ecological problems. If you feel unnecessary to have your room cleaned and linen, towels and amenities replaced everyday, please request Non-Cleaning service. In exchange, you will receive the coupon which could be used in the restaurant and hotel shop. Coupon will be issued per day of non-cleaning as follows; ¬•1,000 per coupon.”

Basically, I get around $12 in exchange for not cleaning my room. I’ve seen in many hotels rooms around the world the offer not to clean towels/linens because, face it, who needs to get his hotel cleaned room each and every day unless you live the Keith Richards lifestyle? I have 6 towels, 2 beds, my room doesn’t look like an episode of “Hoarders” after one day – not cleaning my room every day seems perfectly reasonable to me. With the exception of the Tokyo hotel, nobody has offered anything in exchange for not cleaning my room. All I got were glossy flyers or brochures, talking about the hotel’s commitment to environment. We all know what’s really behind their green mindset: Cost savings. It costs money to clean towels/linens. It takes a maid at least 30 minutes to clean a room. Skipping one day is a nice way of saving a buck.

But this hotel didn’t bother with a glossy brochure (it’s a rather sad piece of paper). Instead, they offered me real value. $12 I can use to buy my kid a little present, to have a tea and pastry. This little offer for a mutual value exchange left me impressed. They applied the thinking of Behavioral Economics to save themselves money, delighted me, and helped the environment at the same time.

Just imagine airlines would have used the toolbox of Behavioral Economics to get out from under. Reward people not to check too much luggage, offer financial incentives to cut down on carry-on luggage and amenities on board. Give people choices, not just cut, cut, cut – until you make record profits.

Sure, sometimes competitive pressure is so tough that you need cut amenities/services and/or increase costs. We are all adults here. But, how do you think all of us airline passengers feel about record profits for airlines after being treated like a herd of cattle  through a 6-hour flight from Boston to LAX?

Here’s an idea: What if companies made some of their costs transparent to people? You can’t disclose everything, your competitor might eat your for lunch if you disclose your exact profit margins. Just keep it to certain prices that fluctuate constantly. Explain that keeping blankets on board costs you that much money and you give people options to keep those blankets for a price or you will eliminate them. Communicate that fuel prices have increased by 40% (I’m making these numbers up) but tickets prices have remained the same.

Basically, don’t just tell people that you’re going to eliminate blankets and good luck. Communicate your challenges to the public. Integrate your pricing strategy into your overall communication plan. People won’t get that angry when you hike the prices because most of us are adults. We just don’t like to be treated like children. Oh, and the glossy brochure stuff really doesn’t work anymore.