I just checked into a beautiful, spacious suite at The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. This room is four times the size of any hotel room I would choose for myself; thank you to the folks at Subway, for whom I’m speaking tomorrow, for the nice room.

Before sending me up to my luxurious suite, the very nice front desk clerk, Anna, warned me about the mini-bar refrigerator. “It’s touch-sensitive,” cautioned Anna, “So if you open it and pick anything up to look at it, you’ll be charged for it.”

What if I want to read the label on the Pellegrino to see how many calories are in it? Or closely study the logo on a can of Budweiser?

I arrived in the suite, and got lost for a few minutes finding my way around, marveling at all of the amenities I would not have time to enjoy during my short stay. Remembering Anna’s admonition, I located the refrigerator and looked at the outer door. (No way was I going to open it and risk maxing out my credit card) A sign on the door said that “For Your Convenience” you will be automatically charged if you grab anything.

Wow. The Venetian is offering me all of this comfort in my suite, but I was feeling like I better be careful or they might reach in my wallet while I’m not looking. What else shouldn’t I touch? What other secret charges are lurking in wait for me?

Suddenly, I thought of the hangers in the closet. I went to look. Sure enough, they were the kind that have the extra-small loops, to go over the extra-thin rod, so you won’t steal them. Nobody has closet rods in their homes that can fit these types of hangers. Like a Motel 6, The Venetian wants to make sure I won’t walk off with their clothes hangers.

So, after initially feeling pampered by The Venetian, I now see that they look at our relationship as if I were an adversary. This is where Brand Harmony meets We relationships … a few small dissonant cues reveal that we are not We.


  • Sara Silver
    Jul 22, 2008 - 11:58 am

    Hey Steve- us girls notice the 1200 watt hairdyers that are bolted to the wall. No one would even dream of stealing a hairdryer like that!


    • Steve Yastrow
      Jul 22, 2008 - 12:14 pm

      Sara – I didn’t notice the hair dryer, since male-pattern baldness has precluded the need for me to use one for many years.

  • Judith Ellis
    Jul 25, 2008 - 21:06 pm

    Hi Steve – Now, this story is really too much! How insulting! You would imagine that if you’re able to stay at such a hotel beverages, even alcholic ones, are really no big deal. But not being able to even handle a bottle is ridiculous. This would have probably warranted a brief not from me or at least a few words to the manager. But how was your stay otherwise?

    • Steve Yastrow
      Jul 28, 2008 - 11:27 am

      Judith’s question, “how was your stay otherwise” is key. After these little glitches, I was on alert for every little bit of brand dissonance. The bagel I bought with the rock-hard frozen butter pat, the security guard checking my room key in the elevator lobby with no smile … maybe these things would have gone unnoticed, but the experiences described in the post made me notice everything. Hey, that’s just how customers work …

  • richard
    Jul 29, 2008 - 08:06 am


    I guess you just broke the Cardinal Sin of Vegas. Remember what Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. We should be so enamored with the glitz and glitter that the reality of having to deal with the other guests in the hotel shouldn’t leave an impression on us. Certainly the Security Guard should smile but imagine if they let everyone on your floor.

  • Judith Ellis
    Jul 29, 2008 - 19:22 pm

    So true, Steve. An experience like that usually colors so much more. This is perhaps the greater lesson. Also, after such an experience what will we tell our friends?

  • Brian
    Jul 30, 2008 - 07:26 am

    Riddle me this, batman.. you’ve been in the hotel business.. how many hangers are really taken from rooms? Is it that significant?

    • Steve Yastrow
      Jul 30, 2008 - 08:42 am

      Actually, when Adam Aron became SVP of Marketing for Hyatt (circa 1989) his goal was to transition over to regular hangers because he felt (as I do) that the tiny hangers show that you don’t trust your customers. So, my guess is that very few get ripped off, because they are unusable due to their non-standard size. The real questions is whether they would be stolen if they were a standard size. My hunch is that some would be, but not enough to offset the benefit of getting rid of this “We don’t trust you” message.

  • Jesse Marshall
    Jul 22, 2009 - 09:26 am

    You touch it you buy it. Is that really legal? I wonder… I have heard that the whole “you break it you bought it” is entirely untrue and you cannot be charged for it. But can you really be charged for the value of the item because you touched it? What if the cleaning lady comes into the room and decides to touch the soda’s in the minifrigde?

    • Steve Yastrow
      Jul 22, 2009 - 10:02 am

      Jesse – My answer was to factor this into my decision about where to stay next time in Vegas … and certainly to check my bill if I have to stay at the Venetian. Hey, I wonder if the housekeepers have figured this out and have created a black market in Perrier?

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