Why journos can’t afford to miss your breakfast

I stayed at a swanky hotel in Aspen once where I hob nobbed with Elle Macpherson in the ski valet room. You know the kind of hotel frequented by the likes of to Tiger Woods, Paris Hilton, Ivana Trump and other such USA style celebrities when they bed down in Colorado’s mini Hollywood snow town.

Yes, I was on a famil, invited to experience the hotel for myself in the hope I’d write it up for my various ski and travel outlets in Australia, a key inbound market for Colorado’s snow industry.  Trouble is, like many US hotels, they didn’t include breakfast.  Bad move, especially when it was sixty two Australian cents to the US dollar (we’re going back a few years).

Breakfast would translate to almost AU$50 for a bowl of oatmeal from the buffet. Now, I’m no tight arse, but three breakfasts would cost me close to $150 (plus tips) and if I sold one thousand word story on the hotel to a major Australian newspaper I’d be lucky to get $500 before tax. So I did what every freelance journalist without an expense account would do, I left the hotel each morning to find a cheaper option.

I found an Austrian restaurant filled with local ski instructors dining out on the porridge and cream with hot coffee for under ten dollars plus Victoria’s cafe owned by an Aussie that served up real coffee worthy of a Sydney barista with freshly baked dulche de leche muffins.

When a local suggested we meet for breakfast at my hotel because they have an iconic Aspen breakfast, it was too late. I had already found my extra story – the top ten breakfasts for under ten dollars in Colorado’s most expensive ski town. It could have been the iconic Aspen breakfasts featuring my hotel, but the hotel never saw fit to offer the journalist breakfast and keep her in the hotel where they want her, not out on the streets researching other stories.

Yet breakfast must be one of the cheapest elements of a hotel to offer a journalist. The buffet breakfast is already there, most will be thrown out at the end of breakfast, and while you may be charging anything from $20 to $40 for a breakfast buffet, it no doubt costs the hotel under $5 to create.  If you’re known for your breakfasts then it’s $5 well spent when you get editorial which would cost you thousands in advertising spend otherwise.

This hotel is not alone, many US hotels charge journalists for breakfast or have a policy of offering only one hosted night for a famil to journalists.  Of course if you google a ‘journalist’ and their by line can’t be found then don’t host them, but I digress.

One night does not give a journalist a guest experience of your hotel, by the time they’ve checked in they have to check out again and if there’s no breakfast then they’ve already spent half the check out morning outside of your property discovering another story. Surely you want the journalist to experience all your best elements including food and beverage?

In the world of travel journalism, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

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