A few minutes ago I was waiting for my oatmeal-to-go in the lobby downstairs. A large banner, one of many in the aging Holiday Inn by the airport, detailed the list of renovations to come.

The copy was a textbook example of “what is it?” vs “what does it mean to me?” Aside from having some serious adverb problems, the banner simply listed the extensive changes the hotel is planning to make.

“The entire exterior of the building will be completely resurfaced with EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) for a more energy efficient, lightweight, and modern look along with a guestroom window replacement, landscape and parking lot beautification, and a modernly designed and newly constructed porte cochere to give our guests an impressive and welcoming sense of arrival.”

That’s a list of features, taken from a bulleted list of improvements that the winning vendor included in the proposal. It doesn’t really address the guests with what matters to them.

I’d prefer something like, “Our outside renovations are designed to make you feel welcome as soon as you drive up. We’re freshening up our grounds, modernizing our structure and redesigning our welcome mat. Plus we’re adding energy-efficient windows and insulation to keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Here’s another example.

“All public spaces will receive new, comfortable soft-seating, upgraded furnishings, new carpet and wall coverings, along with a newly enhanced guest registration area and gift shop. Included in our lobby renovation will be a newly remodeled 24-hour business and tech center.”

Aren’t they trying to say, “Even when you’re not in your room, you’ll feel at home. Our new furniture and decor will make you want to get comfy and read a book, while the new business and technology center will provide the tools you need to stay connected”?

The point (besides the obvious fact that they shouldn’t let interns write copy that will be posted in inch-high letters all over the building) is that the message doesn’t pass the “so what?” test. Am I really going to be compelled to come back because I will get “new carpet, wall coverings, paint and a brand new in-room furniture package”? (And aren’t we glad they’re installing “new carpet” instead of just “carpet,” which may or may not be new?). Or will I come back because they’re making changes that will make me feel welcome, warm and cozy?

One other point, then I’ll let this go. By posting these signs about the upcoming improvements, the hotel makes those of us who are staying in the “old and unimproved” version feel a little gypped. Good thing the amenities are so upscale :) .