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The Difference Between “Cheap” and “Value”


By: Paul Cowell

“Cheap” is seldom valuable!  Being the cheapest is quick and easy.  It does not require creativity.  But it is often not valuable.  The challenge in any business is finding the balance between price and value—e.g. what are you charging?  What are you giving your customer?

My offices in Knoxville were near an interstate motel that advertised “Rooms $19.95”.  Even back then the price was really inexpensive.  One of my employees had previously worked at that motel.  I asked, “How many rooms were available at $19.95?”  He answered, “None.”  Apparently when a potential guest got off the interstate and asked for a $19.95 room they were always told “There are no more rooms available at that price.  However…”

When I asked what price would then be quoted, he said that he evaluated the kind of car they were driving and priced the room accordingly!  I believe that is called “Bait and Switch”.

With the ascendancy of the internet, so many businesses seem to be “racing to the bottom” (the cheapest).  This is not a sustainable business plan. By the way, the motel closed. Cheapest only works if you are selling eggs.  Being “cheapest” usually does not translate to satisfied repeat customers.

You should always give more value than the price would imply. Nobody should have to pay for “cheapest” or even “average”.  Value requires creativity and effort.

So what “value” do I want to offer my guests? And does the “value” of a Whitestone experience justify the price? Here are some quotes from previous Whitestone guests that speak of the value they received:

  • “Our marriage was good.  But after celebrating our 21st anniversary at Whitestone we are leaving with the enthusiasm of newlyweds!  What a difference a weekend makes.”
  • “I needed to find a place to rest and think.  My husband gave me this incredible gift of 2 nights here as a reward for not killing our 3 teenagers.  This was a sanity break.”
  • The business was at a crossroads and we were not sure which road to take.  The face-to-face time at Whitestone allowed us to “speak the truth in love” to each other.  We came to a consensus agreement and the path to take was clear.”
  • “We talked about buying a second home on the lake.  After coming here we have decided it will be less expensive and more enjoyable to just come to Whitestone and let someone else clean, paint, cook, and mow the yard!”

My goal is to give our guests greater value than cost. I hope that what you receive while at Whitestone will be of far more value than the cost. If you are going to invest the time to get away, don’t go to the cheap motel by the interstate.

Remember: cheap is seldom valuable!