In what Slate calls a painstaking investigation, Daniel Engber wanted to know why hotels will provide "apples in the lobby, free wine and snacks at happy hour, high-thread-count bedsheets, super-plush towels, a complimentary breakfast" and yet, will not provide something as basic as toothpaste.
Hotels distract us from this essential, unmet need with a thin illusion of excess. Even the most egregious fleabags will provide a few skinny bars of soap and a flagon of shampoo. Luxury hotels sprinkle extras on the bathroom counter like confetti: a nail file, a facial towelette, a shower puff, a mending kit, a shoe mitten. And what about the toothpaste that most indispensible tool of anyones toilette, a product used by virtually every hotel guest in America at least twice per day? Why should it be easier to sew a button to your cardigan or polish your loafers than it is to brush your teeth? Why have hotels forsaken oral hygiene?
The average daily rate for staying at U.S. hotels is $111. The average number of tubes of toothpaste these hotels provide is zero. This isnt just an industry quirk; its a market failure and an outrage. Hotels wont supply an inexpensive item that consumers clearly need. Whats behind this insane short-circuit of room supply and guest demand? What dark forces underlie the mystery of the missing toothpaste?
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