Tru is a new hotel brand by Hilton focused on a younger generation. The select service property (this location in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) trades design elements for cramped conditions. Does it work or is it patronizing (hint: patronizing)?
Usually I give a nice little write-up about how to get to the hotel but I am such a Millennial that I just use Google Maps and it tells me where to go. Here’s a link:
2815 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
A Note About Brands Chasing Millennials
Millenials (and the surrounding age groups) will displace Baby Boomers as they become the traveling professionals they are replacing. Hotels (and other brands) have to appeal to a new generation and sometimes this is done well, other times – not so much. Marriott decided some time ago that Millennials don’t want desks so they eliminated them. Depending on who you ask, I am a Millennial (I just turned 34) but let’s assume I am just outside the age range, I know plenty of them, I travel with them, not one of them is outraged by the presence of desks. Not one that I know has booked a hotel because they use emojis in signage.
Plain and simple, Millennials do want hotels that make sensible choices about the environment, they want flexible and affordable places to stay that bend to their needs and wants with technological compatibility with their lifestyle. Digital keys are an interesting start (though execution still suffers and it was not available at this brand new property) but TRUly high-speed internet is a really easy way to win them over.
Hotels, airlines – almost any brand – will have to adapt to the changing marketplace and their new customer base. But it’s no less condescending to a younger generation to assume that we will sacrifice basic hotel needs in exchange for sassy signage than it is to assume that baby boomers would prefer only offering the History Channel on hotel room TVs. It’s rude and it’s condescending and it doesn’t work. Make a hotel product that isn’t wasteful, has some tech updates and offers a flexible schedule and you will win their business, Millennials are still just travelers. I find it somewhat ironic that the definition of ageism has recently changed to a dual definition. Originally it was simply:
“unacceptable behavior that occurs as a result of the belief that older people are of less value than younger people”
but now also includes this second definition:
discrimination against people on the basis of age; specif., discrimination against, and prejudicial stereotyping of, older people
I think brands like Tru, while trying to embrace what Hilton perceives as the preferences of Millennials, in fact does more harm than good – it shows how out of touch they are. So without further ado, a completely eye-rolling review of the Tru Hotel by Hilton, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Sassy Soap! Cooool
At select service hotels (hotel verbiage for “not full service”) I don’t mind the hotel reducing waste by using large, fixed soap dispensers over single-use bottles. I often use half the bottle and leave the rest which can be given to a local shelter, but produces excess plastic waste. At premium hotels, I want the little bottles because the amenities are often much better and we like to take them home and try them on other trips. My wife and I have (several times) purchased products after trying them in hotels and carrying them around with us. In particular, after a stay at a full-service Hilton I bought Peter Thomas Roth soap. If we could afford it we would gladly use Le Labo at home that we find at Park Hyatt properties, but until then we are stuck with any alternative to KenetMD.
Regardless, this brandless soap was fine, but what in the world is “Not Soap Radio”? It was, in fact, soap for the record.
The bathroom itself was compact but clean and there was enough space to operate. The illuminated mirror is helpful and bright and the soaps used were fine. The bathroom was perhaps the highlight of the stay.
Plugs… Actually, This Was Great – IRL
Millennial guests do want outlets. This is true of all travelers. I have to say that plugs with USB outlets are helpful. I can’t suggest that I am outraged by the convenience of these plugs but I would not choose a hotel brand just to have them. The plugs were everywhere around the room which was really helpful. I do wonder, though, with the evolution of USB from the standard rectangular design used right now to the rounded USB-C ports that will soon become the standard – what will they do with all of these plugs?
Millennials Want Tiny Rooms 🙂
What is perhaps the most disappointing thing about this property and maybe the brand itself, is the incredibly small size of the room. I didn’t bring a tape measure for my six hours in the property but I would be shocked if the entirety of the room (including bathroom) exceeded 100 square feet. One thing that shows up in photos of huge spaces is the scale, but in smaller spaces it can be difficult to show just how small it really is.
I was standing at the edge of the bed for the above shot. You may be able to make out the little seat at the far end of the room with a work desk attached to the side of it. The air conditioner has a shelf that would support the weight of a stack of papers and nothing more over the top of it. The TV at the foot of the bed is huge (maybe 50″) though perhaps any TV would look massive at the edge of the bed. There is a pullout table/desk but no seat, I guess “us Millennials” will just bring that up to the bed and work on important documents. The bed was very comfortable, however.
Design Is The Most Important Thing – LOL
Is design important, yes, of course, it is. But not every guest under the age of 40 wants a color wheel vomited on the wall. Is it too much to ask for a chair that someone could sit in without a school foldout desk? Is it too much to ask for a room that is big enough to walk in? If my family had joined me on this trip, we would have checked right back out upon arrival. The room had design elements that were clean and modern (if not a little tacky) but the bottom line is that there was not enough space in this room for two people with two carry-on bags let alone a third.
And the whole thing seems so patronizing.
I don’t need space, just look at how cool the soap dispensers are.
I don’t want a place to put my clothes in the closet as long as the wall sockets have USB plugs.
This may have been my first and last stay in a room that was the size of some walk-in closets. I would have accepted such in New York City and London where space is limited. But this is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, there were fields on either side of the hotel and space for days – it was an intentional choice and I am happy to book other brands from Hilton. They missed the mark for this Millennial.
What do you think? Are you a Millennial that loves this room? Are you a human of any age or size that requires normal livable conditions? Tell me all about it.