100 Economics Question of the Day: An Intermittent Blog: What will be the Effect on Hotel Rates?

Monday, March 27, 2006

What will be the Effect on Hotel Rates?

The long-overdue move of NYC into the 20th century continues, with pay toilets being part of the plan.

On seeing a report about these on the local news, my wife--who is smarter than I--immediately asked what would happen if you went over the fifteen minutes. From the article (not the television reporter, who believed we didn't Need to Know):
A quarter will secure entree to the inner sanctum for 15 minutes (with a 3-minute warning). Linger past that, and the door slides open again for the next occupant even if the current one is not quite done.

"People are going use them for sex," she said in response to my clearly Not Getting It.

And the scales fell from my eyes, as Saul-who-became-Paul on the Road to Damascus; visions of available toilets in a city that dearly needs them we transformed into something fit for an early film starring one or another of those TNG guest femmes in their Skinemax days.

What's the TCO for sex in a pay toilet v. a hotel? (1) the ambience is lacking; the Regarding Henry-Expense Account crowd will still use The Ritz. But for what will literally be "a quickie," the worst case is probably that you pay someone a market rate (let's guess ca. $10-20) to put a second quarter in and give you an uninterrupted half-hour. (Anything more than that and the ambience factor should again dominate.)

So will short-term hotel rates have to adjust? Or are there other forces in the market that I'm missing?

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