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Value engineering

If you’ve ever stayed at a Travelodge Hotel, you might have noticed they don’t have shampoo in the bathroom.

Well, that’s “value engineering”. It is a phrase you might want to remember, as it governs your life more than you know. The concept is perhaps best described by the company’s own website:

Travelodge reception

    “Pay for things you don't want? That's crazy! Our research shows that most people staying in a hotel simply want a clean, comfortable place to get a good night's sleep, and are happy to forgo the unnecessary "frills" offered in other stuffy, over-priced establishments. So we make sure we provide good quality essentials such as a comfortable bed and a decent quality shower, but get rid of unnecessary extras.”

It’s worth reading the whole page, and their justification for not having various specific items in rooms, from hairdryers (answer: most customers don’t need one) to bathmats (answer: the floors have enhanced slip resistance).

Similarly, if you ever buy a kitchen at Ikea, you might find the cupboard doors a millimetre or two thinner than the doors at the more expensive kitchen suppliers. That’s also value engineering.

If you’ve sat at a pizza restaurant and found the service a little too efficient, that’s value engineering of sorts too.

In none of these examples, has the product or service level arisen by chance. In each case, someone has thought carefully about it. They’ve engaged in an exercise – formal or informal – called value management to optimise their processes, trim costs and enhance quality.

In big companies they do this in a structured way, engaging consultants in a fairly scientific process using so-called FAST diagrams. In small companies, they do it more haphazardly, maybe sitting in a VE workshop, with key designers and contributors throwing in ideas.

The whole concept of value engineering itself emerged from the American giant, General Electric, during the second world war. Since then it has been dressed up, supplemented and rediscovered in different forms. But at its most ambitious, the broad discipline of value analysis is the task of asking what a company is really trying to achieve, and how it best gets there.

A good example (provided to me by Professor John Roberts, an expert in this area) is that of meeting the objective, “to increase profitable capacity in a manufacturing operation”. You don’t just ask, “how do we build more capacity most efficiently”; you also ask whether the best way to increase profitable capacity is to stop wasting existing production time on unprofitable lines.

But at its narrowest, value engineering is about paring costs. And that probably remains its most common everyday application: thinking about every aspect of a process and a product to deliver an objective as cost-effectively as possible.

travelodgebedroom2.jpgIt’s the Travelodge shampoo experience.

I have never sat in a VE meeting, but I know people who have, and it is amazing how much you can save, if you just think about it in a systematic and open-minded way. Indeed, try it yourself next time you want to do some big work around the house: come up with a plan for that new bathroom, and then have a VE workshop with yourself. Ask yourself about all the materials you are using and what they are for. Ask about the schedule of work and whether it minimises costs; ask yourself whether you really need a full length bath, a shorter bath or a shower? Could you save money on tiles by getting a bigger mirror? Do you need tiles or could you paint the wall?

You’ll probably find there are lots of options for saving money – and some for spending money.

And even if you reject them (the full length bath is much nicer) the exercise may have been instructive. Thinking about big projects constructively is rarely a waste of time.

Note that value engineering is not (in principle) just about delivering the cheap and cheerful.

Upmarket hotel chains will always decide to offer shampoo, but they also need to think about value. Should the bathroom walls be in marble or tile. VE is about delivering the best customer experience for a given cost, so it only involves reducing costs where the saving is bigger than the reduction in value for the customer.

Business loves these kinds of concepts. It can take them, give them initials, and read books about them.

But in truth, value engineering is only a means of implementing a very basic concept of economic welfare: that you improve welfare when what you do costs less than the value someone derives from it. Should a hotel supply shampoo? Yes, if it costs 10p and the hotel customer values it at 11p. No, if it costs 10p and the customer values it at 9p.

This basic intuition is in practice obviously very complicated to implement. We don’t know what value the customer puts on the shampoo. Not all customers value it, but some value it a lot. If a few value it, couldn’t we sell it them (which is what Travelodge do)? Or give it to them at the desk? Or can we re-use it so that the cost is actually less than 10p?

But the idea is simple. Cost versus benefit. It should run through every business decision.

Now a lot of people recoil at businesses making things cheaper. They assume that when a hotel cancels the shampoo, or makes the kitchen wood thinner, it allows them to make more profit at the expense of the customer.

But that’s rarely the case.

It is in the interest of a hotel chain to offer customers all those things they really value. After all, Travelodge would be silly not to offer us shampoo if we valued it at 11p, because they could make more profit and get more satisfied customers by offering it and raising their price by 10.5p.

Similarly, it is in the interests of the hotel chain to offer customers only those things that customers value. After all, they would be silly to offer us shampoo we valued at 9p, if they could make more profit and get more satisfied customers by dropping it, and cutting their price by 9.5p.

In other words, Travelodge has just the right incentive to offer shampoo if customers value it. And removing the shampoo may be a favour to customers rather than a rip-off.

Indeed, often when service is annoyingly low-grade, it is not because a company is incapable of offering high grade service, it is because they have worked out just what their customers really value and want to pay.

And that’s value engineering for you.

Since I was reminded of the phrase fairly recently, I have found myself muttering it under my breath quite lot; either when I encounter something that has obviously been value engineered – from an airline meal to the packaging for an electronic device.

Or (less often in fact) where it seems to me something could benefit from value engineering if only they bothered to pursue it.

But be grateful for the modern companies that think carefully about what they’re doing, even if it sometimes means you can’t wash your hair when you want to.

Comments   Post your comment

Yes, the family and I had a great time inventing additions to the list on a recent visit to Durham and its Travelogde.

Why don't we provide breakfast? Many customers are not hungry.

Why don't we provide a bed? If you would prefer to have a bed, you can buy one from the vending machine in the lobby.

Why don't we provide a roof? The weather is usually good here, and many customers prefer the fresh air and sunshine.

Oh, and in case any other hotel chains are reading this: you CAN'T make a decent cup of tea without a teapot.

My grandmother used to collect those little bottles of shampoo from hotels. If you are going to pay for extras - you might as well benefit.

  • 3.
  • At 12:20 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Ian Kemmish wrote:

Last time I replaced my bathroom mirror, I wasn't given the choice. I had to buy one that had been VE'd to death, so thin it flaps in the breeze and has a blister that I have to avoid when using it.

Of course, I could have gone to a private glazier and paid what I knew from past experience was over the odds for a decently made one, but I don't consider that a real choice.

25 years in various technology industries convinced me that the biggest threat to both businesses and customers was managers who, during VE exercises, assumed that everything they didn't understand was non-essential and that those engineers who argued differently were simply trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

My experiences as a consumer suggest that this phenomenon is not limited to technology....

  • 4.
  • At 12:26 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Scott Latham wrote:

Good article!

I always feel there is money to be made from the British love of tea.

Whatever you're doing, be it running an event, operating a transport service or managing an office, if you can produce a cup of tea for 50p charge £1 more for your service (or give £1 less in wages) and give everyone a free cuppa. Everyone likes a free hot drink.

On the other hand, in the course of my life I have probably thrown away a whole landfill site's worth of plastic stirrers and mini-packets of sugar. Value Engineers, take note!

  • 5.
  • At 12:45 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew D wrote:

Evan - there's a trap in talking about "the customer" in service industries. Service providers fail time and again because they have a fixed idea of customer requirements and specify fixed responses to meet them. Value to a customer is a one-off calculation each time. Travelodge apparently offer shampoo on request. Such flexibility is an all important part of the package.

AD

Unfortunately a London Travelodge is often three quarters of the price of a "normal" hotel. Leaving the customer experience perceived as a lot poorer - say 50% - by the loss of perhaps only 20% of the hotel features.

  • 7.
  • At 12:54 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Clive Palmer wrote:

After years of moaning at me for habitually collecting those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, my wife finally saw the benefit during recent air flights to europe where only 100ml bottle (or less) were allowed in hand luggage.

Thanks to the big hotels, not VE'ing them out. :0)

  • 8.
  • At 12:56 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Steve Brown wrote:

I guess you could say that Tony Blair and John Prescott have been VE'd out of government...

  • 9.
  • At 12:57 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Mrs G wrote:

I wish they'd 'value engineer' packaging - I have looked long and hard and can't find any possible reason for a certain gentleman's 'exceedingly good cakes' being packaged three times over!!

  • 10.
  • At 12:59 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Kate wrote:

No mention of EasyJet? Surely that's the ultimate example of value engineering remodelling the face of an entire industry.

are happy to forgo the unnecessary "frills" offered in other stuffy, over-priced establishments.

Many of the Frills you get at a B&B for around £20 to £30 a night. And they give you breakfast too.

Oh and the bath mats

  • 12.
  • At 01:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Mike Taylor wrote:

Presumably tonight's "Wifi" Panorama has been VEed and the production company has discovered that the consumer values misleading shock headlines over journalistic and scientific objectivity.

  • 13.
  • At 01:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Perhaps if we spent more time value engineering our lives we would waste less time working as employees in companies achieving the wholly unremarkable

  • 14.
  • At 01:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • James Smith wrote:

This sounds all to similar to the 'LEAN' principles we are working to at the moment. How to get best value from your processes, thus cutting costs and waste and making the product more profitable. We spent ages filling in post it notes of each step of the process, then working out the time each one took, then eliminating the steps we didn't need (blue sky thinking) and we ended up with a process that didn't actually help us or our customers! However, here's a great example of VE. The Swan match manufacturers struggled for ages working out how they could better engineer their boxes and save costs, thus increase their profit. After much money wasted on consultants one clever chap suggested removing the striker paper off one side of the box! Simple yet effective.

  • 15.
  • At 01:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Ian Morris wrote:

The availability of the 'Post a comment' box started me thinking what I would say about this article I enjoyed and what my purposes were in saying anything. Then I realised I should make a Value Engineered comment. Nice Article. I'm great.

  • 16.
  • At 01:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Giles Jones wrote:

Not everyone wants to use the complimentary cosmetics. People often like to use their own brand.

Lets not forget I'm Alan Partridge where he stays in a travel tavern and ends up with 182 bottles of body lotion.

People often like no frills, hence budget airlines. You often spend as much time in a plane as you do sleeping in a hotel room.

  • 17.
  • At 01:01 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Dave deverell wrote:

So when Paying £50 for a night at a standard hotel what are you paying for?

The experience of sleeping on a bed with hard pillows? with the opportunity to pay £7.50 for an average breakfast...

Having recently come back from travelling around Asia, i stayed in many cheap hotels/hostels when these BASIC luxuries were provided, and i was paying £5 per night.

Personally I think it is discussing how companies Profit margins affect the standard of service they are trying to offer people.

  • 18.
  • At 01:02 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • AndyB wrote:

Good for Travelodge, if I wanted shampoo and breakfast and smelly soap, I'd go elsewhere.. if I wanted the cheapest room I could find, then the Travelodge gets my business.

Don't give Travelodge too much stick for this, I've been in hotels where basic cleanliness has been.. lacking, and my experiences with TL have always been good, even if I only "got what I paid for".

I'm not sure that VE is really applicable here either - TL is quite upfront about what it doesn't give you. I thought VE was about putting 1 less matchstick in the packet, or making the chocolate bar a little bit smaller so you wouldn't notice the diminished value.

I wouldn't mind paying for shampoo in a Travelodge if it really was a cheap place to stay; but it's not. Compare French motels where you pay around 20-25 Euro per night (about £13-18) for a room with a double bed and en-suite shower room. Yes, land is more expensive in the UK than in France, but Travelodge is not cheap (and I bet they make a nice profit on the shampoo they sell you)!

  • 20.
  • At 01:02 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew Rowland wrote:

What annoys me most about those little bottles of shampoo and thin bars of soap is the waste. Even if you only use part of one, it gets thrown away before the next guest arrives -- with all the ecological cost that implies. A much better solution I saw in one hotel was liquid soap and shampoo dispensers - use what you need and no more.

  • 21.
  • At 01:04 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • John Dean wrote:

Possibly the first instance of Value Engineering was by the man who made a substantial sum from Swan Vestas the matchmakers in the early part of the last century.

Swan were one of the market leaders and he wrote to the Managing Director telling him that he knew a way of saving 15% - 20% of the production cost.

After having agreed and signed a long term royalty deal he made his recommendation – put sand paper on one side of the box only.

To this day, a box of Swan Vestas has sandpaper on just one side.

  • 22.
  • At 01:04 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

With recent travel restrictions, the value of a small bottle of shampoo (and other such products) to me is that I don't have to check my bag at the airport, as I don't have to bring my own, which can no longer go in hand luggage...
That's easily an hour saved from waiting at reclaim!

  • 23.
  • At 01:04 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew Clarke wrote:

VE can be positively used to trim excessive waste whilst delivering what is really required by the user and that can have positive green benefits. There is a danger however, that VE can be applied in a cynical way to cut costs well into the bone whilst maintaining price, we do after all live in rip-off Britain.

  • 24.
  • At 01:06 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • David Sumner wrote:

Evan's only half right - I actually bought all my shampoo from Travelodge and found the fact that I needed to pay for an unwanted hotel room to get it very bad value.

  • 25.
  • At 01:07 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew Clarke wrote:

VE can be positively used to trim excessive waste whilst delivering what is really required by the user and that can have positive green benefits. There is a danger however, that VE can be applied in a cynical way to cut costs well into the bone whilst maintaining price, we do after all live in rip-off Britain.

  • 26.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Peter Goodridge wrote:

Very interesting.

About tea, I recently went to a different hotel than usual in Brussels, where they actually supplied a kettle and tea bags in the room. My satisfaction with the hotel went up tenfold. A very little expense for the hotel, considering I will recommend it to all the tea-loving English business travellers heading to Brussels!

  • 27.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Gordon wrote:

I believe that the concept of VE is important to all of us though not necessarily just to try and reduce costs.
Several years ago a senior accountant at the laboratory where I worked decided that he needed to reduce capital costs on a refurbishment project. He decided, arbitrarily, to change the specification of some equipment we were having installed and reduced expenditure by ~£1,000 on a £50k project. As a result of this change we were unable to use the equipment and spent several thousands of pounds in third party fees before replacing the offending pieces.
The moral of this story is simply, use VE as a way of challenging estimates/budgets but remember to ask why..? or what if..? before taking the 'cheapest is best' route.

  • 28.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Mark Hirst wrote:

Thank you for putting a name to a trend that increasingly irritates me; that products of every kind seem to be declining steadily in quality and reliability. I get the sense that the people making these decisions are far, far away from the product themselves and the people that use them.

  • 29.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris Hind wrote:

It's interesting when you look at what you are paying for in the more upmarket hotels. One chain I stayed at recently made a positive plea for you to take their Shampoo, shower gel, soap etc as it had been especially created for your experience and it would be a reminder for you (so next time you want a hotel you are inclined to go back) as reciprication is one of the strongest influencers.
What is more annoying, or it might just be me, is the environmental blackmail around having fresh towels when I'm sure this is just to save them money or maybe they really do care!

  • 30.
  • At 01:10 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Lisa wrote:

Unless the company passes the cost savings on to the customer, then value engineering is simply an exercise in profit stretching. Customers don't always want the shampoo so the hotel removes it, but the room price stays the same so customers are paying relatively more for a less comprehensive service.

  • 31.
  • At 01:10 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • C Hainsworth wrote:

If Ian Kemmish complains about lack of choice selecting a mirror perhaps there is a business oppurtunity for a glazier who doesn't charge 'over the odds' - assuming of course it is viable to produce a mirror of suitable quality at a price Ian would be willing to pay?

  • 32.
  • At 01:11 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Robert P wrote:

I suspect that, like me, Evan Davis doesn't really need shampoo.

  • 33.
  • At 01:11 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alexis wrote:

Or is it another phrase for simply 'being tight'?

  • 34.
  • At 01:11 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andy R wrote:

Having worked in a couple of industries where VE was the norm I conclude that it is an exercise in dropping quality until the punters squeel. In the car industry for instance there is a system of rating noise , squeeks and rattles against the "fussiness" of the customer and working out who will complain at what level of noise. I'm sure it happens in most businesses.

  • 35.
  • At 01:12 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Robert Eames wrote:

The concept of value is dependant on individual preference.
Do you want cheap?
Do you want quality?
Do you want fancy packaging?
Do you want longevity from your product?
ect ect

If I am on my own on limted business expenses and need a room for the night then the Travellodge route, would be the route to go.
If I am treating the Mrs to a trip to town then I would look at Hilton ect as a more realistic option.

At the end of the day,choose cheap and you will have to make compromises.
In my experience "you get what you pay for"................

  • 36.
  • At 01:14 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Stuart B wrote:

Ive got no issues with value engineering but its when business dress it up as something else that really gets my goat.

The towel issue in hotels is the worst example. The pictures of panda bears wallowing next to some bamboo or the picture of the sad Do-Do with the speach bubble exclaiming that you could save the world by not throwing your dirty towels in the bath.

Its nonsense, and its simply a really thin mist designed to hide the facts from the uniformed.

  • 37.
  • At 01:15 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • K Vann wrote:

My mental list of "Things I Have Noticed Happening in the Background of Life" includes this item: when we moved into our house in 1971, it was difficult to fit a toilet roll widthwise into the holder in our bathroom. Fast forward to 2007 and the toilet rolls are now a good 1" narrower than the same toilet roll holder. Is this value engineering or a rip-off by stealth?

  • 38.
  • At 01:15 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Joy Kemp wrote:

I am a midwife. VE to me means Vaginal Examination. With this in mind, this has been an entertaining read!

  • 39.
  • At 01:15 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • hugh dunlop wrote:

Travelodge does not need to supply free shampoo, etc. Few people wash their hair everyday. It is a basic, no frills, option for travellers who want a decent nights sleeep at affordable prices. But I hope they keep the free tea and coffee. The charges for these basics at service station resataurants is ridiculous. £2.00 for a single cup of coffee or tea is blatant profiteering. A spoonful of coffee or a tea bag cost less than a penny, milk, sugar and the water are so cheap as not to be bothered with.
But why is it so cheap if booked on line, and so dear if i drop in from the motorway?

  • 40.
  • At 01:15 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • What no soap? wrote:

No Shampoo? Try No Soap either!

I can understand the whole, no shampoo because most customers do not use it, even though it bloomin' annoys me when I want to wash my hair and their vending machines have run out!

I stayed at a rather expensive Travel Lodge, and found that they didn't even provide a bar of soap in the bathroom! Having to buy shower gel or take shower gel to wash is one thing, but not being able to wash your hands?????

Come on Travel Lodge, be sensible!

  • 41.
  • At 01:16 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Victoria London wrote:

No hairdryers??

Something small I can easily carry to a hotel like shampoo or even soap - fine get rid of... but not providing a hairdryer?

For me there is no price on that - I would not stay somewhere without one however much other hotels in the area cost and what other services they trimmed.

  • 42.
  • At 01:18 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Holly Bowers wrote:

"to bathmats (answer: the floors have enhanced slip resistance)"

Well, they do SAY that, but last time my husband and I visited my family and stayed in a Travelodge, the two times we showered there I slipped on the bathroom floor and cracked my head. Even when we put a towel down, the moment I stepped off it to leave the room it was all over.

We ended up going to my parents' house for showers that week.

  • 43.
  • At 01:18 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Darren McCormac wrote:

VE or no VE, I actually like the product that Travelodge offers. Good-quality, clean rooms with a comfy bed and an absence of unnecessary frills. And if Evan thinks that Travelodge is bad, he should try staying at an Etap hotel!

  • 44.
  • At 01:18 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

'Why pay for things you don't use?'

Taking that 'logic' to its extreme, no-one would buy a newspaper, which has to appeal to a wide variety of readers.

  • 45.
  • At 01:19 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Dominic Fox wrote:

I'm sure there are teams are work in the BBC at this very moment. I wonder when they will come up with the idea that competing for dimishing market share by opening up new underfunded channels is eroding the core brand? As an example why noy give up on BBC3 and invest a bit more on making BBC1 more watchable?

  • 46.
  • At 01:19 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • paul bailey wrote:

'Similarly, if you ever buy a kitchen at Ikea, you might find the cupboard doors a millimetre or two thinner than the doors at the more expensive kitchen suppliers. That’s also value engineering. - this statement is fundamentally wrong, IKEA furniture is the same thickness as others of the same type of construction. The value bit comes from offering a common base unit (low cost / high volume) with a choice of doors & trim.

  • 47.
  • At 01:20 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

A great example of how this horrendous cheapskating simply backfires in most cases is in the case of restaurants.

Those 'value engineered' chains charge you an exorbitant 10p a sachet for the ketchup. You think 'And the quality of the food, and the size of their portions is awful - I won't be coming back here again !'. And so the 'saving' has been negated by having to spend that money on advertising to 'recruit' new customers.

Meanwhile at the 'Jazz Cafe' in Bath, the Big Breakast is ginormous, tea comes in pots, and the ketchup is out of a bottle. They don't advertise that much, but the place is always choc-o-block full because word of mouth does the trick.

'Value Engineering' may have its place for unethical shysters like Starbucks, but smarter than the average bear types like myself shouldn't overlook the power of common sense.

Whatever happened to 'exceeding the customer's expectations' and 'little things mean a lot ?

  • 48.
  • At 01:22 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Dale Whitaker wrote:

I used to work for a defence electronics company when Value Engineering was in vogue. I went on a VE course for designers. The shining example for us to emulate was a VE'd anti-personnel mine. You know, the thing that goes bang when you step on it. I haven't worked in defence for thirty years.

  • 49.
  • At 01:24 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

You know what you are getting with places like Travelodge and this is reflected in the price, no shower gel /shampoo no problem the nasty stuff you get in sachets only makes me itch!

Oh and one other thing I was people would get overthis fixation with tea making facilities in Hotel rooms, there's more to life than a nice cup of tea!

  • 50.
  • At 01:24 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Joe Knappett wrote:

Travelodges score for families as they provide a single price point per room. Their value is considerably poorer compared to B&B and other hotels if there is just two of you or you're on your own.

And that doesn't include the frills at all...

  • 51.
  • At 01:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Paul Morris wrote:

Seems to me for your VE workshop to be valid and not simply cost cutting that you need to staff it with people who know both the value and cost of everything; not just people who know the cost of everything only

In the auctuality today how many people have both these qualifications?

  • 52.
  • At 01:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tamlan Dipper wrote:

Travelodge have missed the point of staying in a hotel. When I finish a hard day's work, or a relaxing day's holiday, the last thing I want is corporate rationalising. Any service industry must maintain the illusion of not caring about these little things and making the customer feel great. Skimping tenpence can shatter that illusion and leave the customer asking the dreaded question - "why am I paying all this other cash for what in total now amounts to a rotten experience?"

  • 53.
  • At 01:26 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • T Lodge wrote:

Last time I stayed in a Travelodge it was such a miserable experience I barely noticed the lack of shampoo!

  • 54.
  • At 01:26 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Richard Hall wrote:

Evan,

Great article but since I don't know the cost of shampoo I can't decide whether it's a good idea. It may have something to do with my having a collection of some 200 hundred assorted bottles of shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash and shower gel that I have accumulated from various business trips!

  • 55.
  • At 01:28 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Travelodge's justification for not being able to dial reception from your room is laughable. It meant I had to run down the fire escape at 3am to complain about water streaming through the ceiling

  • 56.
  • At 01:28 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Patrick Iain Staker wrote:

I think that the fact most people bring shampoo and hairdryers to Travelodges so why should they provide them?

  • 57.
  • At 01:29 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Carolyn Bartlett wrote:

I gave up TravelLodges two years ago after staying at one in Newcastle. No coathangers tiny towel and poor service!

  • 58.
  • At 01:30 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alex Ingram wrote:

I experienced the most impressive value engineering I've seen in a large luxury hotel in Edinburgh where they'd replaced free specific bottles of shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath with a wide range of squirty dispenser bottles which combined offering a choice neatly with their being attached to the wall and unable to be moved.

  • 59.
  • At 01:30 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tim W. wrote:

I, for one, appreciate this cost saving. But then I'm bald.

  • 60.
  • At 01:30 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew Clark wrote:

Fantastic article - I am an Engineer, who frequently carries out VE assessments. I stayed in the newly opened Eastbourne Travelodge this month. Having never stepped inside a Travelodge before I was struck by the 'cost vs. style' battle they had obviously fought (and won). It was clean, comfortable, quiet, everything I needed... all for £68 a night. I indulged myself in the buffet breakfast (at an additional charge), whereas my wife did not have any (as usual) and our son ate for free! There are many UK manufacturing businesses that could learn a valuable lesson from a visit to a Travelodge. Andrew.

  • 61.
  • At 01:30 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Mark O wrote:

What about the environmental impact of all those little shampoo bottles and soap wrappers? Travelodge are avoiding a lot of waste this way.

From my own personal experience: I bring my own washbag, with shampoo, on all my business trips and rarely use the hotel shampoo. I think that as long as there is a way to get shampoo if you really need it, this policy is fine.

But if they remove the tea and coffee making equipment, then thats's another story!

  • 62.
  • At 01:33 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Simon Brown wrote:

I think this illustrates a real problem with our culture - this system takes as its premiss the idea that the entire totality of 'value' can be represented by a single monetary value.

The error in this premiss is evident throughout our daily lives. It's why almost any interaction you have with a business invoves a computerised telephone menu and a call centre - maybe it makes sense economically, but it adds up to a very poor experience. You may argue that they simply didn't 'cost' the problem accurately (i.e. take into account the inherent 'value' in talking to a human being). However, fundamentally, can you ever reduce a set of human experiences to a matter of pounds and pence? (I would argue that this claim is implicit in most business and political economic policy.)

  • 63.
  • At 01:33 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Paul Douglas wrote:


Value engineering is all very fine, if the customer benefits as much as the company does (or more so). But what happens if a hotel chain trims the costs to such an extent that not only do you not get free shampoo etc but the overall service is lousy, too. What compensation do you have for that? Zero. Not even a few miniature bottles of dodgy shampoo to take home. Value engineers beware!

  • 64.
  • At 01:34 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • George wrote:

Oh, and something else that might reduce the price of the rediculusly expensive train fares.
Remove the seats.
Why nobody thought about that?

I think what these kind of exercises highlight is that market researchers and accountants must firstly be sure that a customer's perception value of a product or service must be properly understood before comparing to its cost to the company. Just because its perceived value is less than its actual cost, doesn't mean that the overall end product is better without it. Sometimes companies need to understand that a customer experience is made up of a myriad of things - including, in the Travelodge example given, shampoo. In my opinion, to take shampoo away altogether, is wrong. To offer it on reception is a halfway house I suppose. But for what is of minimal cost anyway, taking it away from the room at all seems 'horse before the cart'. Whilst I realise that profitability is key to all businesses, customer loyalty is more so. At such VE meetings both marketeers and accountants need to understand this and understand that there is a very fine line between profitability and customer loyalty.

  • 66.
  • At 01:35 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Max wrote:

I was recently invited to assist in the writing of an "industry guideline". One contributor insisted on including "Value Engineering" as a component of the guide.

I am completely cynical about this. Big businesses are comparable fat consumers in the diet industry. Every week someone somwhere is making a mint promoting a process or methodolgy as the new Holy Grail.

Does paying big bucks for consultants to come and state the bleedin' obvious really constitute advancement?

Perhaps the need to be told the obvious is a symptom of some greater dysfunction?

  • 67.
  • At 01:35 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Mark L wrote:

Travelodge rates are still much higher than equivalent chains in continental Europe , which don't rely on limited promotions to show low prices but offer low prices on every room every day and shampoo to boot. That is probably why the Travelodge brand does not exist outside ripoff Britain.

  • 68.
  • At 01:36 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Gordon wrote:

I look forward to value-engineered newspapers - so I don't have to pay for all that dull sport reporting.

An interesting piece and a concept that can be applied everywhere. Unfortunately, it means decisions are made by mass opinion which may not arrive at a correct conclusion.

For example, employees generally place lower value on company benefits such as healthcare and pension than they actually cost their employers, but the real value is usually much higher.

There are only subtle distinctions between value engineering, false economy, and mob rule!

  • 70.
  • At 01:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alison wrote:

Who would use a generic, odd smelling shampoo anyway? I take the little tiny bottles home, empty them and refill with my own shampoo (which I like) and use that on future visits. I use hotels a fair bit with work, and frankly have yet to find one I think even remotely qualifies for value for money. Give me a B&B any day!

  • 71.
  • At 01:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Robert I wrote:

The airline comparison is very instructive. Many of the "low-cost" airlines aren't, in fact, low cost, except for the first few passengers, or at inconvenient times. However, everyone gets their low cost habits (consistent delays, extortionately priced meals etc.).

The trouble with this sort of value engineering is thus its inflexibility. You either provide the meal or you don't, you can't provide one for me but not the person sitting next to me who paid a bit less. People who pay more expect more, though, and when tickets are costly providing the extra service would only cost a small proportion more.

The high-cost cheap-service result is incredibly infuriating to customers, to the extent that I will never fly again on some low-cost airlines like Flybe. Sounds like Travelodge are having a bit of the same...

  • 72.
  • At 01:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Louise wrote:

No Shampoo? Try No Soap either!

I can understand the whole, no shampoo because most customers do not use it, even though it bloomin' annoys me when I want to wash my hair and their vending machines have run out!

I stayed at a rather expensive Travel Lodge, and found that they didn't even provide a bar of soap in the bathroom! Having to buy shower gel or take shower gel to wash is one thing, but not being able to wash your hands?????

Come on Travel Lodge, be sensible!

  • 73.
  • At 01:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • James Kennedy wrote:

I like the convenience of shampoo and shower gel in a hotel bathroom. However from the VE point of view they first re-engineered the shampoo making the formulation as cheap as possible thus making it evil smelling and caustic enough to make my skin and scalp itch for a week. They found that people like me stopped using the "courtesy" shampoo; I bring my own along. Hence the service has been engineered out - must be my fault. Why don't you provide top quality branded products supplied from dispensers screwed to the wall in the bathroom; which can be conveniently cleaned and replensished routinely by the contractor you use to provide the chamber maid services and supply the linen.

  • 74.
  • At 01:38 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Stephen James wrote:

Perhaps Evan Davis has forgotten that Travelodge is owned by a private equity fund. It was acquired by Permira in 2003 and sold to Dubai International Capital in August 2006. I expect it will be sold in two to three years at a tidy profit. Doesn't this explain "VE" better than working out "what customers really value and want to pay"?

  • 75.
  • At 01:38 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Trevor Barker wrote:

You don't even have to worry about the 0.5p in your calculations.
If something costs me £1 and I sell it for £1.10, that 10p profit is 9% of my turnover.
If I save 10p, so I can sell for £1 what costs me 90p, then the 10p profit is 10% of my turnover.
Hey presto! Customer is happy and bean-counters are happy!

  • 76.
  • At 01:38 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • T. Antoniak wrote:

'Value Engineering' is simply another term for cost cutting, or perhaps for justifying cost cutting exercises.

If Travelodge really new the meaning of 'adding value' they would have realised that customers 'expect' certain things when paying around £50 for a room. They expect a good bed, a good shower, and they expect the room to be clean. Thus, saying you concentrate on getting these things right to the detriment of not offering anything 'over and above' what is expected, means the customer is not getting any real 'added value'.

If Travelodge were really smart, they would be doing a deal with a branded shampoo manufacturer and then drawing up a profit share agreement with the brand owner, to take advantage of any resulting increase in sales. They would offer free television and/ or breakfast as part of the £50, and would then use it as a USP (unique selling point) over competitors, or local B&Bs. If Virgin, for example, went into accomodation, this is the sort of thing they would be doing.

Of course, what Travelodge knows is that it doesn't need such USPs. Travelodge has invested very wisely in property and land buying - when do you ever see a Travelodge that is not very well sign posted and just off a main road? This, it takes advantage of its main customer - the weary traveller that doesn't want to/ or physically cannot search for a better deal.

A cynical view maybe, but then to me, inventing a term like 'value engineering' to justify cost cutting to the customer is also cynical. Most good B&Bs, or good local hotels offer comfy, clean rooms, televisions and a choice of breakfasts. Spend 20 minutes on the internet before you travel to look for these places and save yourself the disappointment and boredom of staying in a room stripped of all value-added commodities.

  • 77.
  • At 01:39 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tony T wrote:

why is someone with no hair so bothered about his hotel room having no shampoo?

  • 78.
  • At 01:39 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Paul Douglas wrote:

I remember one great example of the reverse of value engineering. The one-time owner of Colman's the mustard company was asked why his mustard powder in pots was such a profitable business. He replied: "Because it's not what people use on their plates, it's what they throw away!"

  • 79.
  • At 01:40 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Ralph Reader wrote:

Great article, thanks.


If you find that through excessive attention to value engineering your accommodation does not provide shampoo you can always leave some for your fellow guests. The little sachets of syrup, honey etc. provided in microwave steam puddings are ideally designed for individual use, and are sure to provide some of the vital nutrients included in so many hair and beauty products nowadays.

You can then be sure that a later visitor will remind the proprietors (and anyone else present) of the importance of shampoo provision. Oh yes, and it usually ensures that the towels are washed properly too.

  • 80.
  • At 01:41 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • DaveY wrote:

I stayed at a Travelodge and I too marvelled at their concern for us customers as I read exactly why they had decided not to include heated towel rails in the bathroom. Apparently this is to reduce the risk of "injuring our valuable customers".

This concern for our safety was only slightly marred by the fact that I nearly burnt myself on the heated towel rail in the bathroom. Someone had clearly forgotten to value-engineer it out!

  • 81.
  • At 01:44 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Maggie wrote:

Value engineering - great. After all, businesses have to make money.

One possible problem I can see is someone not realising that Travel Lodge hadn't supplied him/her with shampoo until they were already under the shower.

I wonder how many towel-wrapped, dripping guests have padded along to reception with their 10p?

(Personally, I take the travel size bottles provided in hotels, pour away the contents and refill with my own preferred brands).

  • 82.
  • At 01:44 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Karen David wrote:

Couldn't Value Engineering be converted to Carbon Engineering? So if the carbon cost of providing a product or service exceeds its value to the customer then bin it - or recycle it rather. My guess is that all those little plastic bottles would be first to go, whereas chocolates on pillows might stay around a bit longer.

  • 83.
  • At 01:45 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Steve Watson wrote:

How about Ryanair's gin in a plastic packet?

The reverse also happens and is a lot more annoying. I have lost count of the number of places I have stayed that have plenty of extra frills but not a comfortable bed.

If only the people who added all the frills got the basics right first, the world would be a better place. What drives the frills? Maybe the customer buying for the first time notices the frills more than the core. Maybe the frills can be used to distract from a weakness or inconsistency in the core.

  • 85.
  • At 01:46 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • paul wrote:

The greatest (and by that, I mean Worst) bit of value engineering is surely the name "Travelodge".

At some stage some bright spark obviously suggested saving 9% of sign-writing costs if they avoided the repetion of the letter 'l' at the end of "Travel", and beginning of "lodge".

Genius it ain't.

  • 86.
  • At 01:46 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Phylippa wrote:

I recently stayed in a Travel Inn where the complimentary liquid soap & shampoo was in a wall dispenser which clearly displayed a well known brand name. Obviously, Travel Inn & Lux are both benefiting from this VE.... as is the environment too due to less packaging, and no disposal of half used soaps.

BTW, David Sumner your post is hilarious!!

  • 87.
  • At 01:48 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Woz wrote:

I am bald, and therefore perfectly VE'd to stay at a hotel that doesn't offer shampoo.

Good article.

  • 88.
  • At 01:48 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Gary wrote:

My apartment in La Gomera in March did not have a kettle. But there was a small aluminium saucepan, so small I wasn't sure what it was for, until I realised I could use it on the hob to boil enough water for one and a bit cups of coffee. It took ages and no doubt used up far more electricity than a kettle.

VE required here, I think.

  • 89.
  • At 01:49 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Hamish Thompson wrote:

Shampoo has of course been the subject of other forms of value engineering. The application of the words "rinse and repeat" did absolute wonders for shareholder value, not only by unnessarily doubling consumption of shampoo but through the creation of all sorts of other serums, syrups and potions to repair the damage done through over-washing.

  • 90.
  • At 01:51 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Michael Mould wrote:

I came back from a 3 month trip in Australia and was disgusted when I was asked to pay £1 for a tiny bottle of shampoo at a London Travelodge (London City Airport). I had to spend half an hour walking around until I found a corner shop selling a normal size bottle for the same price, £1.

After the experience, I vowed never to return to Travelodge, I'm sure others have done the same!

There is a huge benefit to the customer for the hotel providing these things, no one wants to carry around a number of heavy bottles.

  • 91.
  • At 01:52 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

I suspect that companies also make their cheap products look cheap and nasty so in order to encourage those customers who can afford to to up grade to the posher range.

It isn't value engineering that causes the packaging of supermarket economy ranges to look cheap and nasty (afterall the design costs per product must be tiny). The packaging looks nasty on purpose so that the snob in us buys the next rage up at twice the price (but not twice the cost to produce)

  • 92.
  • At 01:52 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Joe Grey wrote:

VE = You pay for what you get (well taking into account supply and demand).

A good example can be found on the railways. Travel 1st class to Manchester on Virgin and you get a 'free' breakfast. Travel 1st class to Leeds on GNER and you have to pay for it.
Virgin reckons that increasing the cost of the ticket by, say, £5 to cover the cost of providing the breakfast is worthwhile. GNER doesn't, so charges customers for it.

I would assume that a side effect is that GNER loses economies of scale as they make fewer breakfasts than Virgin, so the cost to the train company per unit is higher.

  • 93.
  • At 01:53 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

I'm aware this may well just sound like an anti-hotel rant, but as someone who spends around 3 months of every year travelling around the world in my job, I've seen plenty of VE.... One of the worst is dressing up VE as some Eco Friendly, ethical decision. Witness the infuriating signs which now appear in every hotel room asking us to "help save the planet by leaving your towels on the rail if you wish to re-use them instead of having them replaced daily". A nasty little drawing of a tree and some sort of dodgy logo accompanies it usually. The hotel has no interest in saving the environment - Instead they just want to save on a huge laundry bill. Why not really VE that concept and allow us to pay extra for fresh towels every day or make a donation to an ecological charity if we re-use the towels (as a hotel in Japan I stayed in did recently)?

Value Engineering. Ugh.

BTW - Nice to know Evan has a blog; Definitely always enjoy his plain English explanations of stuff that my tiny brain usually finds it hard to comprehend. I'm going to add this one to the RSS list.

  • 94.
  • At 01:53 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Curt Carpenter wrote:

Of course the real benefit isn't realized until you apply VE to the human race! Is this one really needed? No? Well then...

  • 95.
  • At 01:55 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Joe Grey wrote:

VE = You pay for what you get (well taking into account supply and demand).

A good example can be found on the railways. Travel 1st class to Manchester on Virgin and you get a 'free' breakfast. Travel 1st class to Leeds on GNER and you have to pay for it.
Virgin reckons that increasing the cost of the ticket by, say, £5 to cover the cost of providing the breakfast is worthwhile. GNER doesn't, so charges customers for it.

I would assume that a side effect is that GNER loses economies of scale as they make fewer breakfasts than Virgin, so the cost to the train company per unit is higher.

  • 96.
  • At 01:57 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Conor wrote:

My family are doing a tour of the UK in June for two weeks and staying exclusivly in Travellodges in most cases we are only paying about £15-20 per night for 2 Adults and 2 Children.

If I don't get shampoo I can buy some out of the £60+ I save each night not staying in a diffrent chain.

I like travelodge they have a lot going for them

  • 97.
  • At 01:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Hannah wrote:

Clearly an article written by someone with very little hair!

  • 98.
  • At 01:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • peter wrote:

Presumably Travelodge consider £95 for one night in the one at Liverpool Street with no shampoo, breakfast not included and one light not working in the room (and which they didn't fixe despite my asking)is good value.

You can get shampoo but only if you care to pay £1.50 from a vending machine.

  • 99.
  • At 01:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Carolyn Ford wrote:

We stay in Travelodges frequently. They are fantastic. Comfortable clean beds, quiet and clean bathrooms. If you want shampoo, bring your own.
I cannot rate them highly enough, especially the cheap rates they are offering at the moment.

  • 100.
  • At 02:03 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • RP wrote:

VE'd shampoo bottles... good grief!
I collect them and use them when I a away from home.... I ditch the original contents and 'install' my own preferences... they take up less room than the 'proper' stuff and I enjoy not having to haul the extra weight!
Plus if the bottles are plastic.... they 'never' wear out!

VE= virtual enragement!

  • 101.
  • At 02:06 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

I recently stayed in a travel lodge in London where the room was so hot and stuffy and yet we could not open the window on the first floor more than 5cm for health and safety reasons!!! The heating could not be turned off and as my daughter had asthma we had to ask for a fan but was told that each room was only allowed one which didn't do anything. When I asked if they could unlock the window to allow it to be opened further they said they were not allowed. I would say that their VE could do with abit more flexibility!

  • 102.
  • At 02:07 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Rob Frith wrote:

I work for a large US motor manufacturer (competitor of GE) and much work has been done on assessing value as perceived by the customer. There are in fact four factors to consider when quantifying value, rather than just cost as is normally assumed. We use the following formula:

Perceived value = (perceived quality x perceived service)/(cost x time)

  • 103.
  • At 02:07 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrei wrote:

I noticed the BBC news this morning had been VE'ed.

Where before I would have expected high quality footage of the burning Cutty Sark, instead we got some upscaled mobile phone footage.

  • 104.
  • At 02:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alex Riccardi wrote:

is everyone forgetting that these items are supposed to be "complimentary" or "free"? surely the meaning of this would be that the price to the customer should not be affected!!! a room with complimentary shampoo should cost the same to the customer as a room without.

the other term for VE is of course dynamic packing - strip it bare and just pay for whay you need by adding as you go along

  • 105.
  • At 02:08 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrew Gallant wrote:

I've stayed in both Travelodge and chi-chi 'boutique' style hotels. It seems to me that at both ends of the market, they make a lot of profit by charging for breakfast. In the case of the former, many are located out of town, conveniently next to a Little Chef or similar. Thus they have a captive market and can charge £12 - £15 for a cooked breakfast that a supermarket café would charge £2- £4 for. At the top end, on the other hand, the charge for a buffet-style breakfast can be as much as £50. Best bet when staying at Travelodge is to purchase their Breakfast Bags at around a fiver that include a banana, milk, cereal, yogurt and a croissant.

  • 106.
  • At 02:12 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Hannah Alsters wrote:

Excellent Article! As a business woman who has had to stay in quite a few travel hotels, this value-engineering seems to be catering only for a certain, narrow, specific clientele.

In a single hotel room for business there is not much space for hanging clothes (especially long skirts or dresses)and nowhere to sit down in front of a mirror, so I can do my hair and make-up comfortably. I could do with an iron, but there isn't one. There is a trouser-press, though. I wash my hair every day, but there is no shampoo or hairdryer and there is only one good-sized towel, so I can't wrap my hair up to stop it dripping after a shower. There is, however, a shaving socket in the bathroom.

All the "Value" experts for hotels must be men!

All these cheap, chain hotels offer free TV, and tea/coffee making facilities, but urge you to "save the environment" by re-using your towels (yuk), then don't provide breakfast, unless you pay. It's cheap and really does not cater for everyone.

  • 107.
  • At 02:12 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think Value Engineering is great. The people who dont are, I'd imagine, the sort of people who think Travelodge put them there for free. The danger, however, is that VE tends to erode products and services to the point where you accept them because you have little choice. The alternative is then usually prohibitively expensive, so you accept the mediocre, but cost-effective solution. Then, some enterprising company offers precisely what you actually want, but because of the gap in the market, they can change more of a premium because the demand has already been created. Thus, the sum of the services available generates more revenue. Examples would be bank accounts where the basic service has a call centre that never answers the phone and no possibility of a personalised conversation - still free though. then a premium service you dont want to pay so much for, then a newly offered mid-range service that costs more than you'd like, but you'll take it to feel valued! Same with airlines. Take away all the frills then slowly offer them back at exorbitant cost (and incidentally, why is my easyjet seat no cheaper if some people are allowed to overpay to ensure I can't sit in the first few rows?).

  • 108.
  • At 02:14 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • trina wrote:

In times of hardship I've fallen back on my 'samples' from posh cosmetics counters. Every overpriced but loved purchase I made pretty sure I asked for samples of anything going. Ditto perfume. I'm telling you if they VE that out I'm going to cry.

  • 109.
  • At 02:14 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • tony deighton wrote:

I frequently stay in hotels on business and I expect soap / shampoo / towels / face cloths to be provided.

I value less the conditioner, and consider worthless the body lotion.

However, since the vast majority of people staying in business hotels are male why o why don't hotels provide razors in the bathroom.

Little bottles of shampoo etc I can take in the plane in my hand luggage but a disposable razor? No.

It's about time that these hotels started to work out the gender of their customers.

  • 110.
  • At 02:16 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • tony deighton wrote:

I frequently stay in hotels on business and I expect soap / shampoo / towels / face cloths to be provided.

I value less the conditioner, and consider worthless the body lotion.

However, since the vast majority of people staying in business hotels are male why o why don't hotels provide razors in the bathroom.

Little bottles of shampoo etc I can take in the plane in my hand luggage but a disposable razor? No.

It's about time that these hotels started to work out the gender of their customers.

  • 111.
  • At 02:16 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Some people forget the role of consumer choice in this - if you want more , you may have to pay for it. If you don't want a call centre in India to handle your banking for example, you have to choose a service that doesn't have them, but then you may have to pay more for your banking.

You pays your money, you takes your choice....

  • 112.
  • At 02:18 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • elliott lee wrote:

this article implys the VE is a good thing. VE never improves quality, FACT.

  • 113.
  • At 02:20 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Vicki Hunt wrote:

I recently stayed in a travelodge and only discovered their VE after I checked in to the hotel. Had I known about the new lack of toiletries I would have taken my own. However, as I was expecting these items in the room, I did not pack my own and was forced to buy the over-priced items in the hotel vending machine. VE is fine when you know what you are paying for before you buy and can therefore make an informed decision. In this case I could have paid a measly £2 more to stay in a rival chain with all of the items I would expect for that price bracket. Travelodge will no longer be getting any of my business - I will go to their rival instead.

  • 114.
  • At 02:20 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris Pearson wrote:

There is a very easy solution to this VE issue.

A pack with a price should always be available. i.e pay £30 and get a teapot, shampoo, hair net etc. Pick the box up in reception. For those who dont want to have these little luxurys then you dont pay for the rest of us.

  • 115.
  • At 02:21 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Claire wrote:

I stayed in a Travelodge in Exeter and it was outstanding. Half the price of any other room in the city, bits I'd left at home at the front desk to purchase at cheaper than shop price (toothbrush/toothpaste) and staff who were excellent. Even at midnight when we arrived.

It was a place to rest my head for a night. It was business, not pleasure and that was all that I required.

When I wrote them a glowing comment card they even wrote back thanking me for it.

Glory be for freedom of choice. If you want your shampoo and brand new towels for every ablution then there will always be a hotel that does that and you can stay there.

p.s. to those who bemoan the extortionate prices of a Travelodge and then cite a hotel in France as a comparison then you are also free to sail to France and stay there and then drive back to Weymouth for your holiday. Although exactly how much holidaying you'll get to do is debatable. It's like moaning about the morning commute and comparing it to the time it takes a space rocket to reach orbit! "Well a spaceship only takes 10 minutes to go X million miles. Why does it take me half an hour to go 5 miles in my Corsa?!"

  • 116.
  • At 02:22 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris Pearson wrote:

There is a very easy solution to this VE issue.

A pack with a price should always be available. i.e pay £30 and get a teapot, shampoo, hair net etc. Pick the box up in reception. For those who dont want to have these little luxurys then you dont pay for the rest of us.

  • 117.
  • At 02:22 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think Value Engineering is great. The people who dont are, I'd imagine, the sort of people who think Travelodge put them there for free. The danger, however, is that VE tends to erode products and services to the point where you accept them because you have little choice. The alternative is then usually prohibitively expensive, so you accept the mediocre, but cost-effective solution. Then, some enterprising company offers precisely what you actually want, but because of the gap in the market, they can change more of a premium because the demand has already been created. Thus, the sum of the services available generates more revenue. Examples would be bank accounts where the basic service has a call centre that never answers the phone and no possibility of a personalised conversation - still free though. then a premium service you dont want to pay so much for, then a newly offered mid-range service that costs more than you'd like, but you'll take it to feel valued! Same with airlines. Take away all the frills then slowly offer them back at exorbitant cost (and incidentally, why is my easyjet seat no cheaper if some people are allowed to overpay to ensure I can't sit in the first few rows?).

  • 118.
  • At 02:23 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Nick Herbert wrote:

Nice article.

Perhaps the next person who complains about those call centres who ask callers to "Press 1 or Press 2". Will remember VE...

  • 119.
  • At 02:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • D Knight wrote:

A rear door speaker grill (that resides at calf level) got damaged in my Ford car.
I got a replacement only to find there were left hand and right hand ones.They were almost identical.
Would anyone in a car notice?
VE has still some way to go even in a company well known for bean counting.

  • 120.
  • At 02:26 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • SJ wrote:

One of the key drivers of VE is externalisation of costs, i.e. the drive to get your customers to bear some of the costs of the business relationship. Why bother to pay for shampoo when you can get customers to pay for their own? Why issue boarding passes at check-in desk when customers can print their own off at home using their own ink and paper? Why even have check-in desks when customers can self check-in and do the job of a paid employee? Why calculate someone's tax liability when you can get them to self assess? Why provide supermarket checkout assistants when customers will scan their own items? Even better if you can dress all this up as "for your convenience" or "in the interests of the environment".

  • 121.
  • At 02:26 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think Value Engineering is great. The people who dont are, I'd imagine, the sort of people who think Travelodge put them there for free. The danger, however, is that VE tends to erode products and services to the point where you accept them because you have little choice. The alternative is then usually prohibitively expensive, so you accept the mediocre, but cost-effective solution. Then, some enterprising company offers precisely what you actually want, but because of the gap in the market, they can change more of a premium because the demand has already been created. Thus, the sum of the services available generates more revenue. Examples would be bank accounts where the basic service has a call centre that never answers the phone and no possibility of a personalised conversation - still free though. then a premium service you dont want to pay so much for, then a newly offered mid-range service that costs more than you'd like, but you'll take it to feel valued! Same with airlines. Take away all the frills then slowly offer them back at exorbitant cost (and incidentally, why is my easyjet seat no cheaper if some people are allowed to overpay to ensure I can't sit in the first few rows?).

  • 122.
  • At 02:27 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Joan Freeman wrote:

Presumably Mars bars and co were value engineering when they put rennet into their chocolate to save money that the customers didn't know they were paying. But they were stupid not to be aware of what their customers actually wanted. Even non-vegetarians and non-kosher chocolate eaters don't want to bite into chocolate knowing it has meat products in it. Three cheers for the Veggies for finding out and letting us know.

  • 123.
  • At 02:28 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Well that explains a lot. I'm currently in the process of ditching my mobile phone company because of what I thought was their total inability to offer any kind of customer service when I raised a complaing with them.

But maybe it's just that they VE'd it. Perhaps they did the sums and figured out that investigating my complaint to my satisfaction would cost x pounds, the probability of my leaving if my complaint wasn't investigated was y pounds, and the discounted lifetime value of my continued custom was z pounds, and calculated that x

I suspect they got the sums wrong, however. I made it quite clear to them that I would leave them if they didn't investigate my complaint, and I'd be amazed if it would have taken more than a couple of hours of some customer service drone's time to investigate. My continued lifetime custom would no doubt have been worth many thousands to them.

So maybe they were just incompetent after all. Either way, I'm switching to a new mobile phone provider.

  • 124.
  • At 02:28 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • dian wrote:

I've traveled and stayed at hostels where towels were not included. Unfortunately, they have given this up as the cost of the toilet paper that people used in lieu of the pay for towels was prohibitive.

  • 125.
  • At 02:29 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think Value Engineering is great. The people who dont are, I'd imagine, the sort of people who think Travelodge put them there for free. The danger, however, is that VE tends to erode products and services to the point where you accept them because you have little choice. The alternative is then usually prohibitively expensive, so you accept the mediocre, but cost-effective solution. Then, some enterprising company offers precisely what you actually want, but because of the gap in the market, they can change more of a premium because the demand has already been created. Thus, the sum of the services available generates more revenue. Examples would be bank accounts where the basic service has a call centre that never answers the phone and no possibility of a personalised conversation - still free though. then a premium service you dont want to pay so much for, then a newly offered mid-range service that costs more than you'd like, but you'll take it to feel valued! Same with airlines. Take away all the frills then slowly offer them back at exorbitant cost (and incidentally, why is my easyjet seat no cheaper if some people are allowed to overpay to ensure I can't sit in the first few rows?).

  • 126.
  • At 02:31 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Gary wrote:

Surely 'Value Engineering' is unheard of in my workplace? How else do you account for 10 minutes reading the article & longer responding to it - all at my desk?

  • 127.
  • At 02:32 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Woo wrote:

Here's another VE: Perhaps they could do away with the toilet rolls as well and provide us with a few sheets of old newspaper instead ;-).

  • 128.
  • At 02:33 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • joan smith wrote:

So Dave Deverill only paid £3.50 a night in Asia. How much did the staff earn. If he can afford to travel in Asia he is by their standards a very rich man. Presumably he earns sufficient to keep body and soul in relative comfort. Perhaps he should move to Asia and accept its level of salaries himself.

When value engineering is about reducing cost but not quality, the company have every right to keep that extra profit.

However, too many companies do reduce the quality of their product or service to make more profit and rarely is that passed on to the customer.

Take a certain phone company: "as a benefit to you, we can send you a bill electronically". That's BS - they want to cut cost. They don't offer me a reduction in my bill. And how exactly is electronic better for me if I then have to print it out for my accounts? Not everyone needs to print them out and we can understand how electronic bills help them cut costs - so pass them on!

The travel lodge page really gets my goat because the justifications are so poor. If most people don't use the hairdriers then (apart from depreciation), there is no ongoing cost. Those customers that bring and use their own will still use the electricity.

So why not provide them?

Smart companies find ways to wow the customer at little cost.


  • 130.
  • At 02:36 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Katharine Hudson wrote:

The floors have enhanced slip resisatnce? well my feet must have decreased slip resistance then, because i slipped ina travellodge bathroom without a bath mat!

  • 131.
  • At 02:36 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

Can we get one thing straight, £40-50 per night is not cheap. Travellodge provide incredibly poor value for money. Their main competitors are only marginally better, although they are going down the same road. Frankly I expect a lot more for my money, and it is debatable whether they would be good value even at half the price

However, I recently stayed at another chained motel type place (New Bridge Inns). It cost £35 for b&b (internet booking) and was good value. Included in the price, a comfortable bed, en-suite bathroom with shower, tv, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer, a decent breakfast, and yes, even shampoo and a bath mat.

  • 132.
  • At 02:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • CS Zeng wrote:

It isn't just hotel rooms that get VE'ed. I recently upgraded my mobile phone and the new model that replaced my old one lacks the radio function as well as the flash for the camera. Not having the latter made me feel a bit annoyed and the phone less complete.

VE in food? - Mars bars have got smaller as I grew up and so have burgers at a certain fast food chain. The portion of fish in the pictures are not the same as what you get in the actual product.

VE isn't always a bad thing. Airlines generally provide wash kits to each passenger. But I have never washed on a long haul flight (and I am probably not the only one)and people I've seen that do wash usually bring their own to the bathroom. I prefer my own soap and toothbrush. They should save on wash kits for everybody (unless you really want one), because it is such a waste. I'd much prefer the money spent on a better plate of food instead.

  • 133.
  • At 02:37 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Kevin Hall wrote:

In my experience I've found value engineering applied at very differing levels. It doesn't always equate to giving customers better value; I once came across an example of designer T-shirts that had a cost price of about £13 ended up costing the consumer £88 once so many people had added their mark-up.

It often applies only to mass produced articles where the producer has some control over the final cost. I have found many companies don't know how to use it effectively; they use it to reduce their own costs but don't actually pass on the savings to customers and use it to inflate their profits. Consequently customers can get shabby products yet still paying too much money for them. I could name some companies that do this but I might get sued if I did...

  • 134.
  • At 02:38 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrea wrote:

Althoug mostly annoying, my favourite VE example is definitely when they took the olives out of the airline salad. Always hated them and it put me off olives for life!

  • 135.
  • At 02:39 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Alan Jewell wrote:

We've just booked an overnight stay in a Formule 1 Hotel en route to some (hopefully) rather nicer accommodation in Paris. Their website points out that "you don't sleep twice as well by paying twice the price". We are arriving late and planning to leave early: I bet there's no refund for not watching the TV that's promised.

  • 136.
  • At 02:39 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • John P wrote:

lack of shampoo was not a problem at the 'Chester' travelodge I stayed at on saturday; lack of a kettle, towels, coffee and basin/bath plugs, the two dirty mugs, and the fact that the hotel was so far from Chester it was actually in Wales was a trifle annoying.

  • 137.
  • At 02:39 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Kirsty Charlton wrote:

I've had bad experiences in relation to Travelodges, I will admit that the bed was extremely comfortable but a few of my experiences are as follows:

The heater in my room didn't work - no spare blanket - middle of winter, I was freezing and the reception staff aren't 24 hrs.

The shower in some of the rooms was nothing more than a trickle.

Part of the leg was missing off the bed in one room, sleeping in a wonky bed wasn't an amazing experience.

They offer breakfast which can be left outside your room. It consisted of a croissant, jam, cereal & a banana. More often than not the banana was missing or even so manky you wouldn't want to eat it. Part of the time my breakfast didn't even appear - an easy £7.50 profit.

The available television channels were pot luck...sometimes you would have a selection and sometimes just 4 (all in the same hotel I hasten to add).

However, the cleanliness was always of a good standard. I would point out that the Premier Travel Inn is usually of a similar budget and in my eyes is of a much higher quality overall than the Travelodge.

  • 138.
  • At 02:41 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Peter Marsh wrote:

What are we all like? Here are posts moaning about not getting little bottles of shampoo in Travelodges and you know I think it is great that you don't.

Firstly these are budget hostilries, so the products will of course be budget and secondly, do you really use "just any old product"? Because if you do - the cosmetics industry could just sell one brand to fit all.

Face it - take your own! use the economies of scale that you will pay less for it in tesco and get more for your money and you can take the rest home and recycle the bottles!

Enjoy the showers in these hotels are usually better than you get at home and you have no need to worry about water wastage!

In defense of them, I stayed in one in Cornwall and for a double room n February we paid just £21 a night... You don't get that in a B&B!

moan less about what we do not get at Travelodge and rejoice in what we can get!

  • 139.
  • At 02:41 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • E Charles wrote:

Maybe travelodge should warn you of their value engineering in advance - turning up without any shampoo in one of their few branches (Bath - slightly ironically!) which doesn't sell it at the desk didn't go down well with an exhibition to staff the next morning with greasy hair!...

There's a difference between cutting back on luxuries & removing items that we would automatically expect to be available - one seems sensible & economical, whereas the other doesn't necessarily make for a happy customer!!

  • 140.
  • At 02:44 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • CS Zeng wrote:

It isn't just hotel rooms that get VE'ed. I recently upgraded my mobile phone and the new model that replaced my old one lacks the radio function as well as the flash for the camera. Not having the latter made me feel a bit annoyed and the phone less complete.

VE in food? - Mars bars have got smaller as I grew up and so have burgers at a certain fast food chain. The portion of fish in the pictures are not the same as what you get in the actual product.

VE isn't always a bad thing. Airlines generally provide wash kits to each passenger. But I have never washed on a long haul flight (and I am probably not the only one)and people I've seen that do wash usually bring their own to the bathroom. I prefer my own soap and toothbrush. They should save on wash kits for everybody (unless you really want one), because it is such a waste. I'd much prefer the money spent on a better plate of food instead.

  • 141.
  • At 02:45 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • JJ Jackson wrote:

In the light of the columnists folicle challenge, the lack of shampoo would appear to be academic!

  • 142.
  • At 02:45 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • STEVE FROM MALLORCA wrote:

what hair?

  • 143.
  • At 02:47 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Robert Allfrey wrote:

Having had the pleasure of staying away on business, all I would look for is somewhere clean, the three 's' principal, i.e. sleep, shave and use the bathroom. That is what I usually find in a number of TL and similar. As for breakfast, why not go and find the nearest Tesco or Sainsburys. Same breakfast over half the cost!

  • 144.
  • At 02:48 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • SJ wrote:

One of the key drivers of VE is externalisation of costs, i.e. the drive to get your customers to bear some of the costs of the business relationship. Why bother to pay for shampoo when you can get customers to pay for their own? Why issue boarding passes at check-in desk when customers can print their own off at home using their own ink and paper? Why even have check-in desks when customers can self check-in and do the job of a paid employee? Why calculate someone's tax liability when you can get them to self assess? Why provide supermarket checkout assistants when customers will scan their own items? Even better if you can dress all this up as "for your convenience" or "in the interests of the environment".

  • 145.
  • At 02:48 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • STEVE ROSTILL wrote:

thanks for the info re shampoo. i am staying at drury lane TL this week so i will need to pack my shampoo.
cheers.
my company uses a system called six sigma which does basically the same, reducing costs by examining and restructuring manufacturing processes.

  • 146.
  • At 02:49 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Tom Lichy wrote:

DaveY wrote "I stayed at a Travelodge and I too marvelled at their concern for us customers as I read exactly why they had decided not to include heated towel rails in the bathroom. Apparently this is to reduce the risk of "injuring our valuable customers".

This concern for our safety was only slightly marred by the fact that I nearly burnt myself on the heated towel rail in the bathroom."

So you nearly burnt yourself in their bathroom while reading their webpage?

Hmmm. Were you logging on while downloading a log?

  • 147.
  • At 02:50 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Allan Lee wrote:

I think this is a great idea - I've lost count of the number of these "freebies" like sewing kits, shower caps etc that I have never used or thrown away.

The reverse also happens and is a lot more annoying. I have lost count of the number of places I have stayed that have plenty of extra frills but not a comfortable bed.

If only the people who added all the frills got the basics right first, the world would be a better place. What drives the frills? Maybe the customer buying for the first time notices the frills more than the core. Maybe the frills can be used to distract from a weakness or inconsistency in the core.

  • 149.
  • At 02:51 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Of course, two people have a story of successful value engineering (why is the man's name not memorable, for such a success story?) - but no-one appears to have mentioned the classic case of value engineering gone wrong.

In the 1960s, General Motors started work on a new "compact" car reflecting European thinking. Admittedly, GM - like all the Big Three car producers (as were) are seen as fairly backwards/resistant to change, so their flat-six, aircooled, rear engined car was quite a departure from the usual cars they produced.

The Corvair was well engineered, but in a moment of Value Engineering, it was decided to remove an anti-roll bar and other components from the suspension system, saving $6 per car if I recall. It was retained as an option, but unusually low tire pressures were used to balance the front/rear handling of the car.

Handing the US public a car with vastly different handling, good performance, and an already flawed chassis design (swing axles are fine in low-powered cars like the Beetle and Herald, but both of those vehicles were - eventually - modified when given higher-power engines) was a bad idea. Corvairs would spin, the back wheels tucked under, and were essentially fatal in the wrong hands. The need for unusally low tire pressures was often overlooked - Value Engineering often assumes intelligence and awareness on the part of the customer (don't provide shampoo; they'll know where to obtain it or ask for it at the desk).

The Corvair was held up as a shining example of what was wrong in the American car industry by Ralph Nader, in his book "Unsafe at Any Speed".

It marked a period in car production globally where technology, cost and profit were in constant flux, but did General Motors an incredible amount of harm - perversely, it also kept the Corvair in productions longer than originally intended!

  • 150.
  • At 02:52 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andrei wrote:

I noticed the BBC news this morning had been VE'ed.

Where before I would have expected high quality footage of the burning Cutty Sark, instead we got some upscaled mobile phone footage.

  • 151.
  • At 02:54 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

When do most people actually find out that there's no shampoo in the room?

My guess is that it's when they're still in their pyjamas in the morning, or even in the shower. This leaves them pondering the 'costs and benefits' of, on one hand, going down to reception half-dressed and, on the other, going without shampoo for the day.

Though at least now there's a fancy term to use as an excuse.

The reverse also happens and is a lot more annoying. I have lost count of the number of places I have stayed that have plenty of extra frills but not a comfortable bed.

If only the people who added all the frills got the basics right first, the world would be a better place. What drives the frills? Maybe the customer buying for the first time notices the frills more than the core. Maybe the frills can be used to distract from a weakness or inconsistency in the core.

This is why it's important to fully research a Hotel before booking your room. I would not stay in a Travelodge anyway, as I prefer smaller establishments, away from town centres and airports, as they are cheaper and better value for money. The service and quality of food etc. are generally better than what the big Hotel chains offer. Just allow a little more time to catch your flight, and make an allowance for the taxi fare.

  • 154.
  • At 02:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris Smith wrote:

Over the past 15 years I've stayed in a lot of 4 and 5 star hotels on business and been dumbfounded by what has been chosen to be included:

A chrysanthemum in the toilet bowl each morning;

The 'turn down service' where they fold down the completely unnecessary valance on the bed for you each evening;

And at number one, my all-time favourite of completely unwanted services is the replacement and folding up into a point of the toilet roll each time the room is cleaned. (I can't help wondering what happens to all the partly used toilet rolls)

I love staying in budget hotels when I'm on holiday. Travelodge are OK, but for the real connoisseur, Formule 1 hotels in France are fantastic, just perfect for an overnight stop en route through France, rooms sleep 3 (4 at a push) for about £20 per night, and you get a continental breakfast, which, it being France is actually palatable.

  • 155.
  • At 02:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Geoffrey Mcnab wrote:

Travelodge is rare amongst hotel chains in offering a range of tariffs’ along the same lines as low cost airlines. With suitable planning, and taking advantage of the Saver Room Rate and Super Saver Room there are some excellent city centre bargains, e.g. centre of Glasgow £39 for a room for two en-suite. Most UK hotels now seem extortionately costly compared with the air fare often paid, unless you are a businessman on expenses in which case you will hardly be staying at a Travelodge in the first place!

  • 156.
  • At 02:59 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Woo wrote:

Here's another VE: Perhaps they could do away with the toilet rolls as well and provide us with a few sheets of old newspaper instead ;-).

  • 157.
  • At 03:01 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Of course, one might say that the time and money currently spent on VE exercises might be better used to work out a way to give the CUSTOMER value for money...

...sorry, must have been dreaming again!

  • 158.
  • At 03:09 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • sweetalkinguy wrote:

Presumably this principle underlies the provision of services by public authorities. For example, how often and how thoroughly does the borough council sweep the street. I suppose that the organisations which have a policy of doing this sort of analysis have a statistical matrix which enables them to match up the variations in quality of the product or outcome with the inputs, and the level of customer expectation/satisfaction. This should be part of public policy-making. For example, balancing the use of imprisonment and other sanctions against the cost of building prisons and keeping people in them, making better use of the prisons that exist, and relating all of that to the achieving the policy objective of reducing the level of crime. Having this kind of information in the public domain would have a big influence (probably positive) upon formation of policy in many areas.

  • 159.
  • At 03:15 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Stephen Heliczer wrote:

Imagine the amount of rain forests that could be saved by VE'ing out those annoying/patronising signs in nearly every hotel bathroom. You know, the ones inviting you contribute to saving the planet by hanging up your towels after use, thus reducing their washing costs somewhat.

  • 160.
  • At 03:19 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Fi wrote:

'After years of moaning at me for habitually collecting those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, my wife finally saw the benefit during recent air flights to europe where only 100ml bottle (or less) were allowed in hand luggage'
Clive Palmer

Why? Do you often wash your hair in flight?

  • 161.
  • At 03:43 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Jason White wrote:

On a recent visit to China I received complimentary condoms, spermicide and something to make the experience last longer! Unfortunately the hotel didn't provide a suitable playmate, that was extra. They also provided clean his and hers underwear. I don't think they had heard of VE, but VD had been considered.

  • 162.
  • At 03:44 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

What's the better deal for the consumer? Completely pared-down no frills service that you can choose to supplement by buying the inflated extras you decide you need, or a more inclusive package, some of which might be deemed unnecessary? Try adding the cost of a soft drink and two checked bags onto your incredibly low cost Ryanair flight. I preferred the old way, you got something approaching customer service, flying didn't feel like cattle transit, it didn't end up a helluva lot more expensive, and you didn't have gentlemen like Michael O'Leary telling you that you've never had it so good. Do companies include consumers in their VE meetings? VE is not a bad thing, but I doubt the focus is on improving the customer experience, merely extracting more money by stealth. Surely the trend in the service sector will be towards removing the shampoo and other 'extras' from the basic service when it is convenient for the company, and not redesigning the whole experience in a manner that suits the consumers' fundamental needs while costing less for both sides. From this point of view, the VE discussion should be 'what's the most efficient way of delivering what our customers need?' instead of 'what can we leave out and charge extra for?', which is the less creative and more cynical approach.

  • 163.
  • At 03:47 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Philippe Cahill wrote:

As a nation, we tend to go for the cheapest option and we pay the price in the end: the IKEA (yes i know it's a swedish company!) kitchen won't last as long as a more sturdy one and we end up paying for 2.


Value Engineering sounds like management-speak to me. It is a buzz-word which covers up the fact that products are getting worse, and that quality is being traded for cost: Is staying at a Travelodge a fun experience? Is flying Ryanair to Copenhagen "Malmo" airport at 2am convenient? Is a 99p burger really tasty and good for you?

Not so much Value Engineering as DE-value engineering I fear...

  • 164.
  • At 03:52 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Clare wrote:

This is nothing new - it's what all good Procurement people have been doing for years (and usually ignored by the rest of the company). Value Engineering isn't always about reducing cost but service efficiencies also. Even double sided printing is Value Engineering. All companies should call their Procurement function now and see what Value they can Engineer.

  • 165.
  • At 03:58 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Gemma wrote:

Fair enough... I like to use my own products when I travel.

However, I do resent that recently I had to pay £5 to 'borrow' an extra key for my own room as I didn't happen to be permanently attached to my roommate.

A key that is returned and repeatedly reused and costs nothing for the hotel to reprogramme... Maybe a returnable deposit would be fairer?

  • 166.
  • At 04:00 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • pete wrote:

travel lodge have got it right and at least when you travel around the country you know exactly what to expect when you eventually stagger through the door to your room with all of youre baggage.
The flip side of the coin is overpriced hotels in london which are all front and lobby and give the impression of quality and efficientcy and the you get to youre floor and walk the tatty and battered corridor to enter youre tatty and dirty room.
What tourists from abroad think i could not guess.

  • 167.
  • At 04:01 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Paul Gitsham wrote:

I recently stayed in a Motel In Washington DC. Bizarrely, there was no complimentary tea/coffee or even a Kettle - but there was a fridge and microwave. Go figure!

  • 168.
  • At 04:09 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Mmm a nice cuppa tea. That's something you can't skimp on. Pure value.

I can make do with out a biscuit though.

I think I'm getting the hang of this VE milarky.

  • 169.
  • At 04:11 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • William Murgatroyd wrote:

This is a simple fact of business - unless organisations maximise their return from their outlay they will go to the wall and then everyone including the consumer loses out. And with the greatest respect to "Barry Yeddonite" (comment 21 above) I must disagree: the standards of road in Yeadon, West Yorkshire are very high, and visitors are assured a warm welcome!

  • 170.
  • At 04:21 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Jon South wrote:

The problem is that (at least the first time you stay at such an establishment) it's likely that by the time you've noticed there's no shampoo you're standing naked in the bathroom feeling stupid and not so happy to leave the room to buy shampoo.

  • 171.
  • At 04:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Chris Smith wrote:

Travelodge M62 Manchester. The idea of value engineering was not all that popular. The carpets were dirty, the fire exits were blocked and a wonderful suprise in the morning to find a pair of gentlemans underwear on the bathroom floor.

I guess Value Enginnering cutbacks don't prove to be sucessful in every case when the can't afford a carpenter, a cleaner and compromise their H&S issues.

  • 172.
  • At 04:27 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Veronica wrote:

I stayed at a London Travelodge and there was no soap provided - I don't carry soap with me as hotels abroad normally provide them. How hygienic is it to use the toilet and not be able to wash your hands properly? Manky ! Also, perhaps the brown sticky tape holding one of their bedlights together was another example of VE

  • 173.
  • At 04:31 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

It's about time that VE was applied to reducing carbon emissions. Very soon the penny will drop and people will realise that it's our life support system that is so foolishly being cast aside. The less that is done now, the more draconian action will have to be taken in the future.

Hope this isn't too OT!

  • 174.
  • At 04:34 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Ben Hill wrote:

A good article as an introduction into the basics of economic decisions, made by companies every day, but I'm very surprised at the lack of consideration of the human dimension of "Value Engineering": Unfortunately (or not, depends on your viewpoint), the principles of VE are applied just as much to people as they are to things like shampoo - decisions are made as to what consitutues a 'waste of employee time' and that privelige is cut out in the pursuit of increased profit-margins, which reduces the humble employee to an automaton, in a highly-structured, 'engineered' job. This principle (as noted previously) also applies to service sector jobs, so that companies make decisions about what a customer wants (again in the pursuit of those margins), but end up getting it horribly wrong - I cite the recent Mars case as an example (despite it being an manufacturing sector issue). Too many times the types of information this process relies on is missing, made up or based on dodgy principles - how can any business ever really make the decision that a customer will value shampoo at 10.5p? Nothing is that exact, and I'm disappointed not to see that argument appear here.

  • 175.
  • At 04:36 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Peter B wrote:

Whilst Travelodge have removed the teapot they have invested in a sophisticated networked TV system that can provide Pay per View Adult films.

Personally I think a tea pot would bring more guaranteed pleasure.

Another recently reported case of this is Mars' quickly reversed to decision to use animal rennet in the production of whey. It was described by a spokesman as a 'principled decision' but when the rest of the food industry has moved away from the use of animal rennet not only due to the perceived vegetarian unfriendliness but also the residual mistrust of CJD in the food chain, the true reason can surely only be 'value engineering', that they had found a cheaper source of whey powder and had decided that the saving was more important than losing a few sales.

  • 177.
  • At 04:40 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Phil Mc Carty wrote:

Nothing new in this concept. Thirty years ago the British Army had a Self Propelled Gun called the ABBOT. Splendid thing; made it Britain, moved fast, went bang. But when the UK tried to sell it abroad, it was a bit pricey. So they took out all the 'frills' that the British version had (they stopped short of taking off the tracks) and called it 'Value Engineered' Abbot. It is not recorded whether shampoo was included.

  • 178.
  • At 04:45 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Dan Brooks wrote:

Two simple things let down even the best of hotels:

Cheap toilet paper
Cheap sausages

It's incredible. Spend as little or as much as you like on a room/hotel, sometimes staying in relative opulence, and when the need to visit the little boys room occurs you find yourself using British Rail Era tracing paper on your behind.

Then after, (or perhaps possibly before the above rant) when dining in a (sometimes) decent restaurant for breakfast, you are presented with some miserable excuse of something referred to as a sausage. These things are so bad schools back in the 80s would have refused to serve them.

Any hotelier directors out there reading this - please:

Decent loo rolls
Decent sausages.

Rant mode ended.

  • 179.
  • At 04:49 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Phil Mc Carty wrote:

Nothing new in this concept. Thirty years ago the British Army had a Self Propelled Gun called the ABBOT. Splendid thing; made it Britain, moved fast, went bang. But when the UK tried to sell it abroad, it was a bit pricey. So they took out all the 'frills' that the British version had (they stopped short of taking off the tracks) and called it 'Value Engineered' Abbot. It is not recorded whether shampoo was included.

  • 180.
  • At 04:50 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Evan, there is an old saying, 'Penny Wise, Pound Foolish'. Annoying your customers costs money. Someone who has forgotten their shampoo will rightly be thinking..'Hmm..They have failed to give me some shampoo that would have cost them a few pence, to enable them to pay their CEO a seven-figure salary. Nice.'

And I suspect that I would think twice about ever using them again.

  • 181.
  • At 05:05 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • David wrote:

Good article and agree entirely. We recently stayed at another chain in London, near the Excel centre. There was shampoo in the bathroom, but of the fixed to the wall dispenser variety - probably the best of both worlds - it was there, but it was much harder to nick!

It was the only hotel I could find that would do a family room at no extra cost and the kids ate breakfast for free. Most people would think of it as a very basic option, but the hotel was clean, the staff were friendly and fantastic, the food was better than almost anything else we had (and cheaper) and the beds were fantastically comfortable. It was great value and that was what sealed the decision to stay there - but I'd stay there again because of the service and the great time we had.

  • 182.
  • At 05:16 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Phew! I'm glad the hotel I stayed in on Friday hadn't done any value engineering, otherwise my hair would have been revolting on Saturday.

  • 183.
  • At 05:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

tend to use premier travel lodge hotels, shampoo and soap come in a bulk dispenser, but company picks up the tab for the stay anyway. Much prefer them to the tiny portions you get in the sachets and easier to open with wet hands :)

Often visit client sites to find they have saved £300 on consumables, only to find themselves spending £7-10k from another budget to fix the problems that the consumables were designed to prevent happening in the first place

I ignore the emotional blackmail about saving the towels for the next day as with no heated towel rails, no way of them being dried :)

  • 184.
  • At 07:47 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Malcolm Langley wrote:

Premier TRAVEL INN is no more expensive than TRAVELODGE. But TravelInn gives FREE soap and shampoo in the form of liquids in dispensers. The shampoo as a shower gel over the bath, and the soap over the wash basin. There is also a heated towel rail - something else that is lacking in Travelodge. The lodge corridors are also NOT heated the Inns are, that is noticeable in the winter.

Value Engineering can be simply defined as either more for the same or the same for less. If you can get more for less, that's even better.

VE should not be a separate discipline but an integral part of every activity, so that it becomes second nature.

Unfortunately, it has a very bad name in my book, because I usually find the term used to disguise plain, simple (and frequently vicious) cost-cutting, often leading to destruction of value, when the cost of a project goes over someone's limit.

  • 186.
  • At 08:25 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Deepak Kumar wrote:

This practice I suspect is most keenly practiced at the top end and bottom end of the hotel market where product differentiation is key.

I have to wonder if life in Britain hasnt always dictated by value engineering. It seems that the over-riding practice is to offer the least possible for the most amount of money, and the british people appear to be quite accepting of that.

Living in the New World, it seems to be about giving as much as you can for a keen price so as to get the business. Perhaps it is population density, more space/less stress, but value engineering is not so obvious yet prices are so very competitive.

  • 187.
  • At 09:07 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • nikki wrote:

I agree about the teapot, i'd pay for that!

  • 188.
  • At 01:28 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • RichardN wrote:

Value Engineered accomodation has a much longer pedigree than modern chains like Travelodge. I'm impressed that this company is going back to these old fashioned values. For ultimate value engineering try a YHA hostel. Dare we hope that Travelodge will match YHAs competitive rates now their service is being stripped down to a par.

  • 189.
  • At 05:53 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • d mitchell wrote:

If nobody is using these "unwanted services" how much can it possibly cost to replace them?

  • 190.
  • At 06:51 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • Minum wrote:

Really agree with Chris's comments above-I've VEed my life, which has made it a lot greener, no less enjoyable, and meant I can cut down my working hours, to have more time to live life properly. Its about saying "do I want this meal out/new dress/pile of CDs more or less than doing another 2 hours work in the office this week?"

How old is the concept of Value Engineering? I heard that Henry Ford used to visit scrapyards looking for old Ford cars to see which bits on them still worked. The bits that consistently worked after the rest of the car failed, he tried to re-engineer to make them cheaper.

I think you make a good point, though. However much we may dislike the effects of value engineering (when we aren't willing to pay more for a better quality product), it makes a lot of sense to apply it to ones own life. Life is too short to drink bad tea!

  • 192.
  • At 09:23 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

I'd be interested to know what proportion of their customers come back a second time. TraveLodge do offer cheap accomodation but I think a lot of us who have tried it did expect higher standards and won't be back for more! Come on guys, raise the bar a little!

  • 193.
  • At 09:33 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • paul wrote:

The company I work for has a yearly thinly disguied VE conference for each site, plus the services department (6 in total then).

This lasts 2 days, they bring in a consultant for each one, plus his follow up visits through the year.

Everyone has to stay in the hotel even if it is close to home and there are normally about 20+ people at each one. This means that the cost for the hotel alone is approx £5000 then the bar bill on top of that which isn't cheap!

So when all that is added up and happens every year the money they seem to think they can save from VE, they loose about 36K just to have these conferences.

Plus the consultant costs, which seeing the rates from some consultant companies might well nearly double this!

  • 194.
  • At 09:39 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • Scott Latham wrote:

Quite a lot of the comments here seem to be people who simply do not like Travelodge, or whose dislike of Travelodge leads them to conclude that Value Engineering is just penny-pinching rebranded.

The point is not that we all will like Travelodge more if given no shampoo, but that Travelodge's core customers prefer low prices and no frills.

VE does not mean everything in life being like Travelodge - it means everything being more customer focused. Suits me.

Travelodge may continue to reduce services but, although I have benefited from their low prices many times, are the prices actually falling with the less they provide.

Also, it is said towards the end that companies provide low grade services because that is what the consumer wants- what about when the consumer has very little choice but to use their services, they aren't happily spending their money then, they just don't have the choice to go elsewhere, such as with motorway service stations, for example.

  • 196.
  • At 10:45 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • David wrote:

You remind me of a place we had to stay in for a wedding (and had to pay top whack for). There were no hairdryers, and the cop-out line reception provided was "we're a conference centre not a hotel".

That may have been true, but then why were they hosting a wedding?

  • 197.
  • At 11:02 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • James Robilliard wrote:

In my view people tend not to notice the price around the 10p level. Also with psychological pricing the concept of value engineering is lost for something like shampoo. I think that companies will be thinking ‘why pay for it to be supplied if we don’t have to… don’t bother changing the price’. A simple itemised billing approach when you order your room, where you can choose what you want would work but ultimately we might see ‘5p for a room’ deals where the bed is an extra. Such things would cloud price view for the consumer. I think they should put the shampoo back in all the rooms but not in those environmental disaster shampoo pots but in large (can still look nice) dispenser. The consumer will then use exactly what they need providing perfect value and it will only need to be restocked once in a while with (if done right) no waste!

  • 198.
  • At 11:12 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • Michio Koto wrote:

I always thought this was called Product Shrinkage. Maybe the term itself has been value engineered!

  • 199.
  • At 11:55 AM on 22 May 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Masterfoods (the Mars bar people) are one company who are probably wishing that their latest "Value engineering" exercise had gone unnoticed.

What was likely to have been a "normal" cost cutting or "streamlining manufacturing" decision in my opinion could end up costing them a lot more than the projected benefits the recipe change was to bring them.

Sheer proof that Value engineering is one thing- pressing the PR self destruct button to accomplish it quite another.

  • 200.
  • At 12:16 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I stayed at a £150 hotel and a £15 travelodge within a few days and enjoyed the travelodge much more. Yes price was a factor.. but they gave as many towels, soap, hot water etc. It was brigter and better designed with an actual chair in the room, plasma TV, better noise reduction from street. I didnt have to deal with flicking through pay for view porn options on the TV, mini-bar bills, unused towels, the temptation to wash my hair with 4 differnt types of shampoos and conditioneers, 10 layers of sheets and duvets on my bed and 4 ways to have a wake up call.

  • 201.
  • At 12:35 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • roger wrote:

There are rules in value engineering, the quality must not suffer, you generally 'win' by getting multple use from a part with only one previous function, I think you've picked a poor example.

  • 202.
  • At 12:38 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Lucas wrote:

I'm sorry the BBC chose to make the apology to something so inhumane as 'value engineering'. For me it's a shame, driven only by the idea that customers preffer cheap but shaky to normally priced and sturdy.

One can still find well priced items where no-one thought of VE, and they can last a lifetime - even beautiful memories of hotel rooms where everything is at your fingertips.

Forget VE and focus on the EV (enriching value)!

  • 203.
  • At 01:27 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Pav wrote:

What goes around comes around...one tend to forget basics of economy, cutting out providers of these 'little' extras in hotel rooms will cut jobs somewhere else in the country! Somebody used to supply Travelodge...not anymore now. Those microeconomics do far more harm than you think at the end of the day.

  • 204.
  • At 01:28 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Andy S wrote:

Does the "non-slip" flooring drain quickly?

I hope not, I rather enjoy splashing around in the bathroom "singin in the rain"-style like a naked Gene Kelly.

Bath mats spoil a good paddle, don't you think?. I trust the verrucas are still complimentary?.

  • 205.
  • At 01:50 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Dickie wrote:

This whole Comments today has been a delightful read.
I did want to point out however, that having a mirror in a hotel bathroom does make one forget quite the reason for using the facility.
Is it a narcissistic effort?
Total Me, somewhat...
Dickie, NY USA

  • 206.
  • At 02:09 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Mark H wrote:

Tea being VE'd out hey?

Recently tried a "Devon Cream Tea".
Came with scone, butter, jam cream, but no Tea!

THANK YOU - Malcolm Langley !!! (Comment 184)

PREMIER TRAVEL INN is not/never has been Premier Travel Lodge
(Shame on you Steven - Comment 183) !!

:-)

  • 208.
  • At 03:04 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Clem Hennessy wrote:

Diminishing quality is just a sad fact of modern life, and most organisations who seem to be offering more than overs make sure you pay for it. It's naive to think otherwise. And I must take sides with Barry Yeddonite (reply 21) against William Murgatroyd (reply 169) in saying that the quality of roads in Yeadon, Leeds, are particularly dreadful especially around the mustard plant. Thankfully there are only a couple of hotels in Yeadon, otherwise we'd all be in trouble, ho ho!

  • 209.
  • At 03:06 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • yorkshireman wrote:

Value Engineering, so important it has its own day each year - 8th May. I don't understand the significance of the union jacks, and army uniforms though. Perhaps someone knows more - were they the first things to be VE'd?

  • 210.
  • At 03:15 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Hannah Thrall wrote:

Well after reading quite a few comments about the 'please re-use your towels' signs, I'm going to have to have a rant...

I have stayed in a number of hotels with signs telling me to place my towels in the bath if I want them replaced, but to hang them on the towel rail if I don't. Every time I have hung up my towels, and every single time, they have been replaced.

I have also worked in a number of hotels displaying such signs, and would dutifully re-fold the towels that the guests had decided they wanted to reuse. And every single time I did this, I was told off by my supervisor for not replacing used towels.

Why oh why oh why do these hotels go to the bother of pretending to be 'green' and then just replace the flippin towels anyway?

Really winds me up.

/end{rant}

  • 211.
  • At 05:04 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Rhys wrote:

I recently flew with SAS to Copenhagen. Their on-board meals used to be half decent, but now their in-flight magazine proudly announces the "great new concept which gives you the freedom to choose what you eat on our flights".

Basically, hungry passengers now have to buy their food rather than getting it for free.

Makes sense, it's only a 90-minute flight after all and they must save a fortune in catering costs and possibly need fewer flight attendants. My only objection is when they dress it up in ridiculous marketing speak that fools nobody.

Plain speaking - now wouldn't that be a "great new concept"?

  • 212.
  • At 05:12 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Owen McManus wrote:

I really love these people, who have all pitched in with their two cents, to complain about the atrocious standards, people like Travelodge keep.
What I find funnier still is the fact that the majority of them, probably thought they had got a real bargain until they read this article.

Keep up the good work BBC...

  • 213.
  • At 07:51 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Victoria Stiles wrote:

Unfortunately local governments do this all the time, deciding that kids today don't really need big playing fields and that voters would get more value out of a new supermarket. Ten years down the line, we all wonder where the green stuff went.
VE is great in theory but it rarely leaves room for long-term investments. Providing little things like free shampoo is a great way to invest in customer loyalty.

  • 214.
  • At 09:29 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • colin yates wrote:

my first motor car was a Mini.The original,it had Large storage spaces in each door and next to the seats in the back.The windows slid" open quickly and easily.the dashboard was very simple,small and central,both sides of it had large storage spaces,push button starter.Then,they improved it,wind-up windows so no space for storage,cardboard and plastic to "improve" the dash so No space for storage.No start button.These and other changes were value engineering, resulting in a worse product, it looked Nicer.

  • 215.
  • At 10:59 PM on 22 May 2007,
  • Usman Bello wrote:

This is nothing new only a fancy new name has been attached to it. I come from Lagos and we saw this happening every day - products getting sold in smaller portions, services being stripped down while prices increased. It's just another way for the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer. Luckily I am now wealthy as a result of unforeseen overpayment of international fund transfers and am looking to speak to western investor to help me clear the funds out of the hands of a corrupt banking system, which is a 100% risk free transaction.

  • 216.
  • At 07:57 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Peter Kiilburn wrote:

I recall some years ago the Police Control Room where I worked being refurbished. Some clever "spark" decided that money could be saved by using cheaper floor covering than that specified. The result was a build up of static electricity so severe that it knocked out computers. The VE solution- buy the radio engineers a watering can and sparingly wet the floors

VE only works when those carrying it out truly understand what is valued.

I work for a Government Department that is being VE'd to death, because the managers & consultants do not understand the business and have only the Treasury targets for cutting staff in mind.

The result will shortly be a department that is not fit for purpose.

I won't mention the Department's name - but it really doesn't matter - talking to colleagues in other departments - we are all in the same boat. Watch this space for a complete meltdown of the Civil Service... Tony's legacy be damned!

John

  • 218.
  • At 11:09 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

George, no. 64 - I hate to tell you this, as I think you were just being flippant and light-hearted, but some commuter trains to London HAVE started to take the seats of out of some train carriages, so that everyone can stand !

  • 219.
  • At 11:51 AM on 23 May 2007,
  • richard wrote:

I think i have experienced an opposite effect.

stopping at paramount hotel for a weekend in oxford i was charged £3 per night to have my car in their car park!!!

The Travelodge example that Evan gives is what marketing experts call "negative positioning" - it removes from the service certain attributes that would generally be thought to be necessary to be credible to the customer. This then allows the enterprise to offer the product at a cost below the market expectation.

No-frills airlines and Ikea (furniture retailing without home delivery - unthinkable?) are another couple of examples.

Of course we all have differing attitudes to the value of things, and the problem comes when the providers in a market all try to compete on cost - service is bid down to a level that is unacceptable to some customers.

  • 221.
  • At 02:19 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Gerard Somar wrote:

The best use for VE is to show that by firing all those corporate fat cats and not giving them a penny to leave the company is the best thing any company can do to both address its profit margins and reduce costs

  • 222.
  • At 02:53 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Chris Kelly wrote:

VE is all about making businesses more money, but taken too far could seriously endanger lives as a direct result.

For example, just think about the manufacture of aeroplanes, cars, hospital equipment, etc. A little bit of plastic here, a backup engine there - afterall - they hardly ever get used...

An awful lot of people seem to be missing the point about VE; yes, Travelodge removing inclusive shampoo is value engineering. However, a company deciding to add all the freebies is also value engineering.

The point of VE is to remove things that cost you more than they're worth in customer value terms, AND to add things that cost you less than they're worth in customer value terms.

For example, offering unlimited free refills on filter coffee (without bumping the price up) is VE. Similarly, a cafe providing newspapers for patrons to read is VE; the cost of 3 of each of the daily papers is lower than the perceived value, and increases the repeat custom you get.

As a final example, now that branded pens are cheap, it's better value to a bank to have lots of bank branded pens around the area where you fill in paying in slips and the like (and accept that they'll lose some) than it is to have the pens chained to the desk. The added cost of replacing pens that a customer takes is lower than the customer's perception of convenience (which translates into value).

VE is hard, simply because you're trying to balance perceived value with cost; it's all too easy to concentrate on cost cutting, when you also need to think about ways to add value without costing too much.

  • 224.
  • At 04:09 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Toxteth O'Grady, USA wrote:

This consumer always takes the little bottles of shampoo. That is one of the little value engineering strategies that lets me use money for important things. I was amazed at one 200 pound a night london hotel that stopped leaving me body lotion after about 2 weeks of cleaning them out of that stuff. It's good though, that was Febuary and i still have a lot of classy shampoo left. And do the sums; pack your lunch!

  • 225.
  • At 04:38 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • martina wrote:

going back to your original article and the comment about pizza and over efficient staff - i assume you are refering to resturants where the staff are so over efficnet they are annoying thus leading you to give up your table for another paying customer as soon as you have finished your meal! does this mean that places that allow you to eat your meal in peace and chat for ages are inefficient? once the smoking ban comes in .....

It doesn't matter whether you are a fan of Travel Inn or not (they can't appeal to all the people all the time) - what does matter is their consistency of delivery.

The great thing with Travel Inn and Hotel du Vin (and other companies Pret a Manger and MacDonald's) is their reliability of service. Although very different they both consistently deliver the experience you expect for the price that you pay. It's called "delivering on the brand promise" and it's what makes a good brand worth a fortune if you get it right and cost a fortune if you get it wrong.

That fanatical attention to the brand experience is not something that "traditional" British hotels (and many other failed British companies like Leyland) could be accused of - unless, that is they are upholding a brand promise to be over-priced, pig-awful and thoroughly disappointing no matter what their marketing literature might say.

I have lost track of the number of times I have demanded (and got) my money back in these traditional establishments after a hellish nights sleep in some lumpy bed. Whereas I have never left HdV or TI with any thing other than a sense of quiet satisfaction at having payed a fair price for a good nights sleep.

  • 227.
  • At 10:33 PM on 23 May 2007,
  • Wendy wrote:

I can't help thinking that those people who take the "complimentary" bottles of shampoo, packets of tea, sugar, coffee, etc. "because I have paid for the room and shall therefore remove anything complimentary and take it home" might have ruined things for the rest of us who only use what we need and leave the rest.

Had the annual cost of supplying these items not been as high and guests had not removed items that, let's face it, are probably not worth more than a few pence would they have been "VE'd"?

I try not to stay in hotels that do not provide hairdryers. Lugging one around in my luggage, especially if I am flying, is a nuisance.

Couldn't hotels have sachets of shampoo or hairdryers etc. available on request at no extra cost? At least this might remove some of the temptation for guests to remove the items.

  • 228.
  • At 01:48 AM on 24 May 2007,
  • Gerard Mulholland wrote:

I bet the people who own these businesses don't have thin doors etc. in their luxurious mansions.

When you pay "less" for the "no-frills" experience, you're not saving the cost of the shampoo.

The companies who PROVIDE the doors or the shampoo could still give you a low cost product.

The "frills" or "no frills" don't mean a thing.

Most of the price is to satisfy the owners' GREED.

  • 229.
  • At 11:20 AM on 24 May 2007,
  • Joan White wrote:

I'm amazed that only one comment in two hundred has actually seen to the heart of what this is all about.

TRAVELODGE IS OWNED BY VENTURE CAPITALISTS.

Next time you buy a product or service that has been notably degraded, check the ownership of the company concerned.

VCs LOVE VE.

Is RyanAir not the ultimate example of value engineering?Essentially they took a look at the flights market and concluded that for customers much of it was frills. So they paired down to the core product and delivered it efficiently and at good value. The proof that the appproach was correct is of course the seemingly endless rise of RyanAir.

  • 231.
  • At 11:57 PM on 24 May 2007,
  • Alex Smith wrote:

i have been revising for my economics exam - labour and leisure industries - and came across value engineering.

My textbook rambled on about comparing EasyJet's flight experience with the more expensive flight packages.

While i understand that Value Engineering is applied to the expensive flight's fixtures, such as the ratio for the "cheapest comfort" in a reclining seat, companies such as British Airways, that cannot compete on price, deliberately buy expensive fixtures to give the customers a better experience, as they feel they've paid for quality.


This would mean British Airways are purposely not applying VE to all it's service, in order to win customers.

There are two ends of the spectrum.

  • 232.
  • At 07:57 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Euan wrote:

So whats the difference between VE and the cost-benefit analysis that we've been doing for decades?

  • 233.
  • At 11:10 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • john smith wrote:

Evan,

WOuld it be possible for you to do a BBC TV series to educate people about "money". I don't mean detailed economics, but the more simple but incredibly important issue which affect us all in every day life. It astonishes me for instance, that fellow Manchester United supporters think the Glazers buying the club = them "investing" in the club even though they borrowed £660 million! Or that Banks don't lend their own money, they create it from nothing, or that house prices are actually mostly down to land prices, or that a house bought with a mortgage over 25 years will cost you twice its price. There are many examples like these of huge importance to millions of us, of which most of us are totally ignorant of the implications. It may be a little basic for you, but none of this is taught at school, and even to many well educated people is a mystery. What is GDP? what is the National debt? and so on....there is an endless list of things talked about daily about which most of us haven't a clue. Kind regards, John, MAnchester

  • 234.
  • At 10:50 PM on 30 May 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think travelodge shot themselves in the foot with that sign. When I am traveling on business (ie not paying for it) I do not want to see that sign. Last time I stayed in a travelodge I read the sign and thought "yeah, I want one of those", "one of those would be handy", etc. They didn't even have a phone to let you call reception

  • 235.
  • At 11:48 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I don't care tuppence for the lack of shampoo but the refrigerated breakfast left outside your door is a step too far. I don't always want a cooked breakfast but toast is always required (with an occasional warm croissant).

  • 236.
  • At 05:00 PM on 24 Jul 2007,
  • Jerry Kaufman wrote:

The word "function" is conspicuously absent from the article. In Value Management (VE/VA) the idea is to determine what functions the market wants, and how much they are willing to pay for those functions. The "products and Services" offered are the ways selected by producers to deliver those functions.

Also, It would be well served to the reader to explain the difference between "Cheap" and "Inexpensive."

  • 237.
  • At 04:59 AM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Billyo wrote:

It all hinges on the concept of “value”. It is invariably a subjective concept and limited by time and position. Generally it is determined by the life experience of the people involved in the decision to ‘value engineer’. If indeed they are engineers they will have a certain experience of life that is reflected in what they value and what they think other people value. And it doesn’t matter how many people are asked they will tell you what they value at that point in time and in that circumstance.

A few world travellers and consultants out there! There sure is money to be made deciding on the detail of hotel services....

..but to be constructive this article has stirred some good points. Business does well if the customers like the product at the price and customers return if the business provides spot on service at an attractive price and at the right time and with a smile and with loyalty points or whatever. So cost is much more than $ and product is not static - can you be be spot on every time for every customer?

Jerry Kaufman said 'function is the key'. I'd also highlight creative thinking (not creative accounting). Effective Value Engineering looks at the whole customer experience in a way which prompts and enables business to be innovative and stay two or three steps ahead of the competition.

As one of the early comments said 'it's common sense!' The bottom line is VE works and it is easy to adopt especially if your employees do call it common sense.

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