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Posted by Victor Crew on

A Brief History of Motel 6

Probably one of the most iconic motel chains in America is Motel 6. But how did they start? Who invented them? And, frankly, what’s up with their name?

Paul Greene and William Becker were two contractors who had worked together on low-cost housing projects. They wanted to try their low-price handy-skills in another sector however—hospitality. Their goal was simple—build a motel chain that could unbelievably low prices, but that could still maintain a high profit margin.

Greene and Becker started the planning phase of what would become Motel 6 around 1960 and they originally wanted to charge the crazy-low rate of $4 a room. Through research they found out this price would be too low, still in the planning stages they raised the theoretical rate to $5 and eventually came up with the figure of $6 a room (you can probably see where this is going). In their figuration they found this rate was still low enough to attract guests (no kidding! Good luck finding a $60 room these days) and still pay for the land leases, building costs and operational costs like janitorial supplies and employees.

Their first motel opened just two years later in 1962 in Satna Barbara, California. And, wait for it, they named it Motel 6. But give some credit to Greene and Baker, the marketing is simple and direct. Customers know what it is and how much it costs all in a simple and easy to remember name: Motel 6. It probably even ranked as one of the best values in the would of hotels and motels at the time.

While that brilliant marketing isn’t as relevant now, the chain is still known to be affordable. And no motel chain in America, Motel 6 included, can boast a national flat room rate. In 2017 a room at the Motel 6 ran from about forty dollars a night in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to about one-hundred and fifty a night at a location in proximity to the Newark Liberty International Airport. $6 would have been worth about forty-eight dollars in 2017, so proportionally to inflation their prices are about the same.

Consider what some hotels charge these days, even at its most expensive, Motel 6 is still a pretty good deal.