You’re going to think I’m food obsessed, but anyway…… whilst we’re waiting for a resolution, it gives you a little time to think.
I’m not normally a person who’s given to ordering room service when staying in hotels. It’s expensive, for starters, and it’s rare that there isn’t at least one other option available.
I had a stopover in London a few weeks ago on my way to New York, and the lateness of the hour combined with the tiredness of my body caused me to relent. I was a staying at a well known hotel chain near Heathrow thanks to a good value, last-minute internet deal and I figured the money saved would be reasonably spent satisfying my growing hunger.
The menu looked reasonable, however given that they’ve got you over a barrel at these just-remote-enough airport hotels, it was also rather expensive. I ventured down to the restaurant area but there wasn’t any reasonably priced relief there, either. Somewhat chagrined, I reluctantly opted for the comfort of a late dinner in my room, ordering one of the hotel pizzas, which you can order to your own specifications from a limited number of ingredients.
To say the result was disappointing would be an understatement of significant proportions. At a cost of around 15 pounds, I was expecting a base overflowing with my chosen toppings. As it turned out, I had more fingers and toes on my extremities than I had bits of ham on my pizza. It was more like bread parmagiana (which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a tomato and cheese topping popular on Australian pub meals).
While I was waiting for my ‘pizza’, I thought it a good opportunity to log in and check my email. I work on the web and it’s my main method of connectivity. I can’t recall the price to connect, but given my exasperation at the price of my dinner, the sum they were asking for internet access was sufficient to make me think twice. I was only going to be awake for another two hours at most, so the thought of ploughing another double-digit sum into the hotel’s coffers wasn’t overly appealing.
My hotel in New York offered a similar deal, only this time you got to pay an exorbitant amount for your room (hey, Manhattan’s expensive) and then you can add an additional fee for a scratchy internet connection that doesn’t work if others in the hotel are also trying to access it.
Why is it that small hotels, like the one I’m typing from in Sweden right now, can offer fast internet access for free when the big hotel chains, who pride themselves on reputation and hospitality, feel empowered to charge like wounded bulls for the same service?
And what, I hear you ask, does any of this have to do with cars?
I guess you could say it’s the concept of value. The notion of meeting or even exceeding expectations.
I’m a reasonably uncomplicated person. I don’t have any airs or graces that I’m aware of. I don’t feel entitled. I have my opinions but generally speaking, I’m not pushy. I’m rarely demanding, except maybe when it comes to what I do for a living.
In the words of John Cleese: “I may not know much about art, but I know what I like!”
What I like in a car is a combination of utility, comfort, useful equipment and sportiness. I like it when the car has the ability to adapt to my needs, to my moods. I like it when I feel an affinity with the name on the steering wheel. I’m a Saab nut, and I like it when I feel like I’m part of something that’s bigger than me. (Please bear in mind that when it comes to this website, I’m an enthusiast first and an employee second – but don’t tell the boss I said that!)
With Saab, as with some of those well known hotel chains, I have a certain level of expectation. With Saab, unlike those hotel chains, I’ve never been disappointed.
I still love every Saab I’ve ever owned. My only lingering disappointment is that I don’t still have them all. I’ve taken them to track meets in the daytime and hauled trunkfulls of musical equipment in the evening and my Saabs have been equally suited to both. I’ve enjoyed fistfulls of turbocharged second-gear kickdowns with an ear-to-ear grin and I’ve relaxed like a king while my car ate up the miles on a long holiday fling.
Like hotels in Manhattan, great cars don’t come cheap in 2011. What matters is the value equation – does the car do what it’s supposed to do and more importantly, does it meet your expectations? Do you get what you’re paying for and do you get it with the requisite level of service along the way?
Yes, at Saab, our cars have options – not everything comes as standard and as with any manufacturer, a higher specification commands a premium. But we like to think that our standard performance and equipment offerings compare more than fairly against our competitors, as do our options.
I’ve always believed that we punch above our weight in the automotive industry. When I see cars like the new 9-5 on the road, I feel pretty proud to be associated with the company that designed and built it. When I drive a new Saab with one of the world’s premiere all-wheel-drive systems, I feel pretty happy that it was developed first with Saab in mind. When I see the ads here in Sweden for the most powerful low-emissions and full-sized vehicle on the market, I wonder what our engineers can do next (I had the same feeling of wonder when I first read about Saab’s history of innovation, way back when).
I love what we design and build here at Saab and after several years mixing with the broader Saab community around the world, I know I’m not the only one. Now, with a chance to observe the company up close, I can see just how much work, really dedicated and committed work, goes into this.
And it’s all with the goal of building you the best Saabs – delivering you the best cars and the best value – that we can.