This is my first post to what I hope will become something valuable for all service people out there.
The idea: picking a review* from a hotel or restaurant from the internet, analyze it and suggest improvements. Within certain posts you will find documents to download, courses to take or other products. This allows us to support the cost of this blog.
What you will not read: We don't write about the food, more than enough food blogs already ...
The 6 rules:
* All reviews are the subjective opinions of the writers and are in now way changed by us. We do correct writing errors to improve reading experience.
So let's dive right in with the first one....
We stayed at *** during week of the Memorial Day weekend. We booked the hotel with Expedia so I was unable to do any of the hotel research that I normally do when searching for hotels - my mistake.
We stayed on the second floor (right above the lobby area) so we got to hear a lot of the street noises. I've stayed in better rooms at lesser rated hotels. The "guest room" that they show on their website is no where near what we got. There was a hole in the wall under the desk area and electrical cords were exposed. The bedframe was nearly broken and the bed looked like it was precariously sitting in the frame. The cleaning service was sporadic at best - they did not always come to the room everyday. Aside from these cosmetic issues, my main complaint comes from the service we received.
First big issue ... The bathtub did not drain well, so we were constantly standing in a pool of water when showering. Since this is unsanitary, I informed the young man at the front desk, Patrick, of our issue the very next day. He told me he would send someone to fix that. The next day the tub still pooled up, so we again informed Patrick that the problem was still happening. Again, he said someone would come to fix it. The following day, the water was STILL pooling. At this point, we would only be there one more day so we didn't see a point in telling him one more time when nothing was done about it for the first two complaints.
Second big issue...On Saturday night of Memorial day there was loud music and bass that you could hear (or rather FEEL) through our floor and walls. At 11:00pm I asked the girl at the front desk what was going on. She informed me that there was a wedding in the hotel restaurant and that she "didn't think it would last for a few more hours." I told her that we had an early flight out, had to get up really early and asked if she could talk to whoever about the music. She said the hotel was not affiliated with its restaurant so she could not do anything but assured me that it shouldn't last more than a few hours. What???!!!
What I find funny is that the management of this hotel has written replies to each of the negative reviews of this hotel. The management could learn some proactive management skills rather than reactive. I am hoping to get those pictures back soon so that I can upload what our room looked like to give a more accurate picture of the hotel.
The hotel's response
General Manager responded to this review:
I have received you comments pertaining to your stay here at *** over the Memorial Day weekend. I would like to apologize for your displeasure. We take great pride in the high levels of service we try to give to all of our guests. I am sorry that we failed you during your stay. I can assure you I will discuss with the entire staff at the next scheduled staff meeting.
In the meantime if you would like to discuss your stay with us further please feel free to call me at your convenience.
Our opinion and suggestions
I was unable to do any of the hotel research
> It's clear that guests are still doing their homework before booking a hotel. In several studies it has shown that over 80% of customers are influenced by an online review.
Our suggestion: write a marketing plan on your online presence. Don't forget your strategy on how to tackle bad reviews. Obviously it starts with not getting any but you should be prepared. Therefor, stay in close contact with your customers and get feedback before they leave your hotel.
Tip: present the feedback form during breakfast! Usually people are not too much in a hurry and will take the time to review your hotel. Should the feedback be disastrous, you need to interact immediately with the guest.
we got to hear a lot of the street noises
> Guests are looking for peace and quiet during a stay. Street noises combined with a different bed and surroundings leads to bad night rest.
Our suggestion: Make it very clear in your communication that certain rooms may be subject to noise. When the customer is clearly informed, they have no reason for complaining. You can even offer these rooms at a different rate, there is always someone interested in getting a good deal if they don't mind the noise or if their stay is maybe a very short one or on a unusual time frame of the day.
they show on their website
> Websites can be very dangerous since the presentation of certain rooms creates guests' expectations. The guest has a clear pictures in his head of what the room will be like. Any difference upon arrival will bring down the experience from the start. The fact that in this hotel there was a hole in the wall and the bedframe was nearly broken, points to a poor follow up of the technical department combined with no clear procedures on how to check a room.
Our suggestion: make sure that the housekeeping department reports all breakages to the technical department. The housekeeping floor supervisor should be following up if the work has been done properly and if their is any need of extra cleaning afterwards. A form should be created to report all technical issues and a procedures should be in place to check a room A to Z once a week at least!
when nothing was done about it for the first two complaints.
> This to us is the biggest issue of this review. When people make a complaint most hotel owners see this as criticism, you shouldn't! It is an opportunity for you to improve your service, turn the situation around and show your professionalism.
Our suggestion: Apologizing to the customer is a natural reaction in the hospitality industry but making it worse by not following up on your promises is unacceptable. Make sure you ALWAYS follow up if the issue has been fixed to make sure the guest is happy. In a worst case scenario, offer the guest another room... after checking that one is impeccable!
loud music & proactive management
> There is always a possibility that certain things are out of your power. Loud music can be a nuisance and it's up to you to make it as comfortable as possible for the guest. Being proactive about it can avoid a lot of frustration that could be avoided.
The girl at the front desk said the restaurant was not affiliated with the hotel, again this a much used technique: finding excuses.
Our suggestion: Needless to say that you should talk to the source of the disturbance straight away and take matters in your own hands. Be proactive and start finding out what rooms would be available to move guests to away from the music. On the other side you can also try to have guests doing other things while the music is playing, inform them about things they can do in town or maybe they would enjoy a late night dinner, anything to get them away from the bad experience.
the hotel's response
The response of the hotel is very reactive. It doesn't suggest any realistic solution nor does it offer any kind of compensation. The goal should be that the guest removes the review and gets something in return.
Our suggestion: pay attention to detail! The message doesn't even greet the guest with a hello, it starts of with "I have... ". The general manager should train in language skills and being proactive. In this case he/she could have contacted these guests personally on the phone (they have their details from the check in) and NOT ask the guest to call him, this is not done!
The fact it will be discussed on the next staff meeting is good but did he/she also inform the guests about the results of that meeting, we're not able to know based on this response.
General conclusion: people in this hotel should be urgently trained in dealing with customer complaints. It might have been a busy weekend but this is where the true potential of any hotel shows! Not only during off peak moments.
Sadly, I have the feeling that many of these posts will come back to the conclusion that training is key. Service will follow from it...
Forbes released an article based on a survey by New Voice media. It stated that companies are losing billions due to poor customer service.
If you read the survey, it becomes quickly clear that businesses are focussing on the wrong things. In many instances have I visited companies where the interior is like Buckingham palace; The coffee is served in porcelain previously owned by heads of state or the toilets are sprayed with Chanel perfume.
What board of directors quickly have to realise is that all these things do nothing for the customer. This is what we call features. They are fairly easy to implement: you need money. There is no real art to it.
Don't get me wrong, the nice surroundings of a hotel or a law firm will add to it's reputation and the perception the customer has about it. Even more, some of these venues are places to be preserved. Historical buildings with a great history now serving other purposes.
Time spent wrong
I have personally overseen big projects such as the opening of a hotel and even a 7 floor casino. The years and months leading up to the opening day is filled with plans, meetings and budgets. Things such as the size of elevators and electrical installations are often discussed for hours on end.
What I realised was that staff was rarely talked about and yet, these are the people who are about to interact with the guest or customer.
In one kitchen they installed a very special oven. It could heat up really fast and go to high temperatures for certain special dishes. The cost was close to € 90,000.
Do you know how much was spent on training the 325 staff members in this 45 million project? Not even 10,000 !! The staff who was to welcome people at the door or on the phone were not considered import enough to be trained.
That is the reason why companies don't invest in customer service training, they don't see it as something tangible. They don't get a product in return. There is no packaging, no nice wrapping.
CFO: "what if we train the staff and they leave ?