Indochina is an exciting place to visit and it attracts many different kinds of travelers. From what I have observed working in tourism in Vietnam, nowadays the mix is pretty equal between back packers, flash packers, general and upscale tourists. I sometimes wonder which group gets it right when visiting a foreign country. There is a general attitude that I have noticed over time to be common with each group. None of them are better or worse than the others, but simply different. There are businesses that cater to all. The reason I bring this up as a topic is that today I had a shower and dried myself with a cheap low thread count towel that had a faded monogram of another hotel. Whaa ???? Why did we have this instead of the thick absorbent towels I spent so much extra for? To my dismay, I was informed (for the first time after 4 years of business) that customers would swap our good towels for cheap ones and since they look mostly the same, the theft would not be discovered until the customer was long gone. Oh My God!! A single towel is half the cost of 1 night in the room. That was not the end of it. I also, our top sheets would regularly go missing. Because of comments on Trip Advisor, we decided to supply these as other budget hotels did not but unfortunately these would also be stolen. This discovery had us rethink the type of customer that we wanted to provide services to. We entertained the Idea of a dormitory style of place that can bring in big dollars. We had decided that we were going to build an all inclusive place that provided tour packages in Nha Trang and even beyond, however, we have since reconsidered this due to the large number of enquiries expressing interest in a stay only. We have entertained all classes of customers in the former Tide Hotel from my 5 star friends Marilyn and Joe, to the ultimate backpacking nephew Eric who have educated me to the reasons people travel the way they do. So……. Which traveler makes the best customers for our new venture? Here are examples of some of my experiences with the different classes of traveler. Most of our customers from all classes were excellent and I feel honored to have met them, but there are some that I will never forget for less than happy experiences. I have had upscale people stay in my one star hotel numerous times. Most of them came for a night or two to meet the man behind the blog with the idea that they could “rough it for a few nights”. In all cases they were polite but had issues with the simplicity of the accommodation and the services available. For them, services in area in their language was important, and having to climb stairs instead of a ride listening to Muzac was not desirable. In almost all cases, they simply checked out early and apologized. NO PROBLEM!! I actually appreciate the fact they made the effort and some of them are my friends today. The regular hard baggage traveler is a mixture and sometimes a joy, but other times an absolute pain. You never know what you will get. We have had complaints of moldy bathrooms when the truth is that the construction workers grouted walls with dirty hands making the walls less than white, or issues with the bedding not being to western standards, but mostly they were good sometimes decent tippers to the staff. Some of these people are regular customers and I look forward to their return every year. The Flashpacker is a person traveling on a budget trying to get a good value for their dollar. After consideration, it was surprising to me that these travelers were our best customer. Almost none complained about service or conditions, were decent tippers to the staff, and were not reluctant to pay for the inexpensive services offered by the hotel. Sure there were a few that were trouble but mostly good people. The backpacker is an interesting traveler. Most of them are young fun loving people trying to travel on a shoestring budget. Their youth and lack of experience make them very easy to take advantage of. Their mind set also tricks them into believing they are travelling on a budget when in fact, they pay more than others. There are many “hostels” that offer a bed for 8 dollars in a dorm and with 4 to 8 beds in a room, that generates a very profitable 32-64 dollars a night revenue. Attach to that a booming bar with expensive drinks. Even though I have met many nice backpackers, my experience with some of them has been frustrating. For example, a bottle of water in my lobby cost 5000 dong (25 cents) ice cold. And a good quality breakfast 30000 dong (1.50). Many backpackers will walk down the street and purchase warm water for 4000 dong, and perhaps have a bowl of soup for 25000 to save money…. Perhaps all the zeros confuse them but if this happens for a week (5 days), they will have saved ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS! Some also think that because they can find a room for 6 dollars a night, that if paying 12 dollars, they should be able keep the room cool all day even when not in use. Power in Vietnam is incredibly expensive for a business. It can cost as much as 4 dollars a day to run an air conditioner. Perhaps the funniest situation I ran into was a young woman that arrived at my door and was not happy with my 12 dollar rate. She asked for a discount as she could get a room for 10 dollars in the back pack area. I know a person like this will not spend a penny in my hotel, and I would not lower my rate. We called a taxi for her and for 4 dollars she arrived in the backpack area to her prized 10 dollar hotel. Hey!! Wait a second!! Add the 4 dollar cab ride to the cost and the room is now costing her 14 dollars, 1.50 more than she would have paid if she had simply stayed. If I was chasing the money, I would have built the dorms, and offered entertainment with a party atmosphere in the fold of “real” Vietnam. I am sure this would have been an “adventure” so many would look for but in the end…… we decided it was the Flashpacker and general family travelers that we would appeal too…. Darn…. Now what to do with my Disco Ball!!