I've done quite a bit of traveling over the past month and have had remarkably different experiences at name brand hotels based on the people who I have come in contact with. While in NYC, I stayed in one of the flagship hotels of an industry leader. The experience was far from memorable. Most likely because it started like this. While checking in I asked the front desk person if it was possible to have a room with a view. She replied, "Yes, for an additional $50." I remembered having a similar conversation with the front desk person at the Westin, which was located across the street, and the response I received there was, "Let me see what I can do."
I'm willing to bet my hotel had vacant rooms with views as there are 1,949 rooms in this place. Yet, they would prefer to keep the rooms with a view vacant, rather than impressing visitors so they would tell others or return themselves.
This small interaction set the stage for the rest of my visit. At around midnight, I realized I had forgotten my hairbrush. Yes, I know its NYC and I could easily find a drugstore where I could purchase a brush, however I was too tired to walk through Times Square. For a moment, I thought about picking up the phone and requesting a brush but then I thought I would be told, "Yes, for an additional $50 we can have one brought up to your room." This experience had me dreaming of my recent visit to a W Hotel where any wish was possible. I guess you could say that I wished I had decided to stay there instead.
If you are in the service industry, the only differentiator is your people. They should be delighted to grant the requests of your guests or like me; your guest will decide to go elsewhere. For many people, pleasing people comes naturally. For others, it's painful. So I ask you to consider taking a closer look at the people you have representing your brand. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If it's the latter, do something about it. Either remove these people, review the policies that may be getting in the way of them delighting your customers or invest in some well-needed training so that everyone feels special when they do business with you.
Author of the forthcoming book, Suddenly in Charge! Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey,January, 2011)
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