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Waffle Iron or Marketing Hook?

Image result for waffles and waffle irons images

Here is how things should go at theĀ  waffle station in a Hotel breakfast area:

  1. Find two of the little pots of butter and scoop one in each side of the waffle-maker
  2. Close the waffle-maker and turn it over so that the butter melts and coats the inside as much as possible
  3. Ignore the glances of the staff as they wonder why you are not using the oil spray
  4. Take the jug of batter and pour to fill both wells until you cannot see the grids underneath
  5. If batter overflows onto the sides, don’t worry about it
  6. Close the waffle maker, they usually have a little locking bar at the front
  7. Wait until the waffle is ready, usually when a green light clicks on
  8. Open, take a table knife, lift one end and peel waffle out, if you’ve buttered well the waffles will come out easily
  9. Add your topping of choice and enjoy.

Seems simple enough eh! If you are now thinking what kind of a nut am I to be explaining this to you, then you have never tried to make a waffle in a hotel breakfast nook. Here is how it usually works:

  1. Guest approaches the waffle maker and sees it is ‘non-stick’, so wonders why they have provided a can of non-stick oil spray
  2. Guest does not like the thought of those ‘chemically sprays’ and so will not use it, besides the waffle maker is clearly a non-stick one
  3. Guest pours batter directly into the maker and may or may not lock it
  4. Feels like a long time so Guest peeks, ooh, it’s not yet ready, Guest closes it quickly and now realizes two people are waiting for the waffle-maker
  5. Guest waits a little longer, can’t find any indication of when the waffle is ready (lights are often hard to see), so opens it and takes the waffles out, only they will not come out, they are stuck and just peel off in bits and pieces
  6. Guest now does one of two things–uses a knife to scrape out as much of the waffle as possible, throws it out and has a bowl of cold cereal or calls over the attendant, leaves them to deal with it and sits down with a bowl of cold cereal
  7. Either way waffle dreams are gone, there are now 5 people in line waiting for the waffle-maker and they are all rethinking their need for a waffle

This pattern repeats in thousands of hotels every day and it happens because most of us do not know how to use a waffle iron and even if you do, you will not succeed with this set-up. This is a perfect example of product marketers meeting thrifty consumer and the product marketer winning. It is also a reminder that nothing in life is free–the ‘Bill’ just hasn’t arrived yet!

Hotel’s know that a a ‘free breakfast’ is a big draw for their clientele so they use it as a selling feature. Consumers expect that the ‘free breakfast’ will not be elaborate, just your continental style breakfast and maybe warm eggs and bacon or sausages. The addition of a make-your-own waffle bar is to kick your perception of quality up a notch and further discourage you from leaving the hotel to find the breakfast of you choice at a time of your own choosing. Because, that is another problem with the free breakfasts, its not like you can lay in bed for a few more minutes and turn that breakfast into a brunch, no the freebie will likely be done by 9:30 am.

So the waffle maker is a marketing hook, it smells great as it cooks, reminds you of what a great deal you got with the free breakfast and draws you into the breakfast area. And all that is required of the staff is to make one set of waffles at the start of the breakfast period and leave it on a plate for guests to aspire to. We need to stop playing this game because even if you do end up with edible waffles this breakfast experience is not a good one and breakfast is way too important a meal to trifle with.

Breakfast is truly breaking a fast, if you have slept for more than 6 hours your body has had a fast. It is now time to start the day off with nourishment that will give you energy and trigger your body to make the digestive juices that will serve you well throughout the day. In this new year plan to develop the habits to prepare a satisfying and nourishing breakfast so that when you travel you will know what your body needs to start the day. If you have never taken a basic cooking course consider doing so this year, not so much about ‘what’ to cook but ‘how’ to cook. How to use the equipment commonly found in kitchens, how to know when something is ready, how to use herbs and spices to add satiety to meals and how to wrap and store foods correctly so you do not have to cook every day. Then you will recognize the waffle station for what it is, trouble, and a way of ‘selling’ you the idea of a satisfying breakfast.

When I travel I use my auto club membership or loyalty cards to get as good a deal on the hotel room as possible and try to fine one located in an area with lots of breakfast choices. Then I start the day with the breakfast of my choice at the time of my choosing; it usually means I am not hungry again until dinner and contributes to my sense of relaxation while traveling. In my next blog we will explore breakfast in depth. Lots of choices, suggestions and recipes so you give this meal the attention it deserves.

This blog is dedicated to my sister Yvonne, who travels a lot and and was baffled by the chaos and comedy of errors around the waffle station. She now starts her day feeling full and stress-free by paying for her breakfast!