A few years ago, there was a trend to quirky packaging on (largely) food products. The sort of packaging that spoke to you, told you how wonderful the contents were, told you jokes, and tried to be engaging. The term ‘wackaging’ was coined, as in wacky packaging. Some companies have kept this up (such as Innocent Smoothies), but I was thankful that it appeared that we’d passed Peak Wackaging, and were going back to normality (by which I mean a reliance on the quality of the contents, rather than the quirkiness of the wrapping, to make the sale).
I was wrong. I’ve just spent the last two days making use of conference room facilities within a Yotel. Yes, that’s “Yo! A Hotel!”, and that exuberant overenthusiasm hits you in the face wherever you turn. It’s wackaging taken to extremes, where the wrapper is the building itself, and you are the contents supposed to marvel at this freak of marketing.
There isn’t a reception – it’s Mission Control. No bedrooms in this hotel, no, they’re Cabins. And you don’t have a TV on the wall, you have a “Technowall”, whatever that is. The staff are referred to as Crew, and the opening date of the hotel is the “lift-off”. Yes – you’re not in a hotel, you’re in a spaceship, travelling to worlds unknown, boldly going where no man has gone before. I was slightly disappointed to not hear the staff (sorry, crew) speak Klingon.
If you’re still reading this, and haven’t had to rush off to void your stomach, there’s more. The provided pads of paper have “Write Away Please” in the top left corner. Coasters are printed with “Drinks on me”. The bar/restaurant is called KOMYUNITI. Yes, all caps. Yes, spelt like that. Although perhaps not – the word is so ugly it defies attempts to pin it down, and even Yotel have spelt it in two different ways in their own literature.
(I personally believe that we need a whole new structure of language to describe words like this. The usual antonyms to Euphonious just don’t cut it. I don’t think uneuphonious is a word, but it’s getting towards being as bludgeonous as KOMYUNITI. I’m thinking of a grading scale from 1 to 4 of horrendibility, with antonymic prefixes added accordingly. A grade 4 word would be described as antidisinuneuphonious, while a grade 2 is merely inuneuphonious. Any suggestions for adding to the collection?)
But I digress. If you’ve got this far, and you’re thinking “Wow, I want to go to this sort of place – I love interacting with previously boring places in new and exciting ways!” then the Yotel is specially designed for you. Go, live the dream. If, however, you’re even vaguely on the pedant side of the literate / illiterate dichotomy, if you eschew weak puns, and if your idea of upliftment is completing the Times’ cryptic crossword, you might find that being here causes you something of an existential strain.
In case you’re wondering, the conference facilities themselves are just fine. And they have a smart whiteboard, which is brilliant. Just keep your eyes fixed on that, and you’ll survive the experience.