Sir: I have no axe to grind on behalf of hoteliers, but I think it is time to lay to rest the bogey of single travellers being ripped off by hotels or, in the case of holiday packages, by tour operators (letter, 29 May).
The hotel product comprises three elements: service, substance and space. Service includes cleaning and tidying of bedrooms and public areas, reception facilities, porterage and administration. It takes a chambermaid almost, if not exactly twice, as long to clean two single bedrooms as it does to clean one double room. Reception, checking in and out and admin takes as long for one person as for two.
Substance consists of the consumption of food and drink in the hotel's restaurants, bars and possibly bedrooms. The hotel owner anticipates making an average profit from these facilities. Obviously, if only one person occupies a room, that profit is halved.
Space is expensive and has to be used to maximum advantage. Although purpose-built single rooms may be smaller than normal, two such rooms occupy considerably more space than the standard double.
Many modern hotels, especially in resorts, are in fact built with only double rooms for greater flexibility; in these cases a single occupant not only loses the hotelier some profit but has the advantage of double the normal "bodyspace" in the room.
Without having access to exact costings, it does appear to me that a single room supplement in the order of 50-75 per cent is not unreasonable. Dr Wittenberg feels that "blantant discrimination" is not in the long- term interest of the tourist industry. Lack of such discrimination would certainly not be in the short- or long-term interest of the individual hotelier.
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire