Back in March, Pip and I pulled into the Omni Hotel of Richmond, Virginia for 48 hours of awesome with the James River Writers. I had no doubt we were going to get star treatment from the writing group, and also from the hotel. We have stayed at the Omni of Richmond before and it is a terrific hotel. What happened after I handed over Sterling’s fob, though, made the Omni my favorite hotel in Richmond:
Valet: “I see, Mr. Morris, that you drive a Volt. Would you care to have us plug it in to our charger for you?”
Me: “Why, yes, yes I would!”
Unbeknownst to me, the Omni Hotel had a Level 2 (240v) charger on the property and were offering it to me as a guest. It was a delight to get offered that little perk. An unexpected reward for driving green.
Offering the chance to “top off” a battery or charge overnight a car is part of what I see as an emerging courtesy for green drivers. This perk is not exclusive to hotels. In the Reston, Virginia area, the Stone Cove KitBar (a kitchen-bar that offers a terrific variety of dishes ranging from flatbread pizza to crab cakes) offers a free GE charging station at their restaurant. You charge your car while you eat. GE also offers charging stations at the Alamo Cinema Drafthouse in Herndon, Virginia. What better time to charge your EV than while at the movies? Then you have charging stations found at science museums, college campuses and historic town centers (like Manassas, Virginia and Charles Town, West Virginia), offering charging bays while you enjoy leisurely afternoons in the area.
What businesses may want to consider in the future is what the Omni, Kohl’s, Mom’s Organic Market, and the Stone Cove have already hipped themselves on to when it comes to EVs: win a customer’s loyalty by offering a bonus. In this case, a free charging. Why not, as a business owner, invest into a charging station, extending a courtesy charge to EV drivers? The longer a customer spends in your store, the more they spend or invest in your business. This offers a new angle in what you offers your customers in the way of amenities.
I hope to see other businesses—coffee houses, restaurants, theatres, and hotels—investing into this courtesy. As it was with the Omni, it was an unexpected bonus being offered to me as a guest, and has won me over in being a future guest when I come to Richmond for business. to make this initiative happen, though, it will require some education on the business’ part: educating themselves. I consider myself a Marriott guy, but a rather odd exchange occurred to me only a few weeks ago:
Me: “Hello, this is Tee Morris in Room 137. May I please borrow an extension cord?”
Receptionist: (different from the one who checked me in) “Certainly. May I ask what you’ll be using this for?”
Me: “Sure. I have an EV and I’m charging it during my stay.”
Receptionist: *pause, then in a less-pleasant tone* “How long are you intending to leave the car plugged in, sir?”
Me: *a little taken aback* “I’m here for four days, so probably tonight and Sunday?”
Receptionist: *breath* “That should be fine.”
I was kind of stunned that this receptionist was convinced that somehow—with all the people charging their phones, tablets, and laptops, and leaving room lights on—charging my car is going to somehow break your hotel’s budget? I was only asking to take advantage of a Level One (120v) charge. Seriously.
It would not be outrageous to speculate if we were to see more charging stations closer to businesses, that business would see a tick up in loyal customers. It truly is a win-win for everyone, and even the environment.
Then there’s that delightful deduction come tax time. Always a bonus.
What do you think? What business or property, do you think, would benefit most in offering EV charging bays?