Hospitality – Maybe You Have Heard Of It?
Are some hotels just getting sloppy when it comes to delivering strong customer service? Have you fallen into the same trap? Webster’s Dictionary defines Hospitality as “the act, practice, or quality of being hospitable; solicitous entertainment of guests.” Interestingly, I just came back from two business trips that I took back-to-back where the hospitality and experiences I witnessed were decidedly different in the cities I visited.
Since the country is still paddling around in the murky recession waters, it seems many people still don’t know necessarily what to do or think and I am constantly amazed at the wide-ranging treatment guests receive in various markets, even though we constantly hear how tough the business climate is today. Call me jaded or biased but I imagine I will always be called and considered an “East Coast” person, even though for our business and clients we serve allows us to continue to travel and work around the world, plus I have lived in many different areas and now in the Southwest for over 15 years.
Every time I visit New York, it seems like I am home, maybe I am prejudiced or the familiarity, sights, sounds and yes the people make it that way for me. Some people outside of New York look at me oddly when I tell them how hospitable the majority of NYC businesses and people are whenever I visit - they just don’t seem to want to believe it! During my most recent trip we arrived at our hotel to find out that they could not find our reservation. The desk clerk was direct but professional and, more than 10 ten minutes looking for the reservation before contacting her supervisor to assist too.
In a polite manner, she asked me to please take a seat in the lobby and she would be with me shortly. There was no attitude or an ‘I am too busy to care’ vibe, but for sure she understood the meaning of being hospitable. The reservation mix up was resolved and not only did they apologize, but upgraded our rooms for the inconvenience to us.
Additionally, our hotel was overrun with foreign travelers, but even with the language barriers that exist, the hotel staff was helpful and professional at all times to all of the guests. In the mornings and anytime we were in the hallways, we always were greeted by the housekeeping staff with a pleasant smile and a good morning or good afternoon; and this was not a five-star luxury hotel. When we asked for a late checkout (even though the hotel was extremely busy) they accommodated us without a hesitation. Overall, in the city, wherever we went to eat or have a cup of coffee, there were smiles and friendly greetings, especially the night we took a large group to Landmarc Bar & Restaurant at the Time Warner Center, without a reservation, the answer was happy to see you and a warm welcome.
Switching gears and coming back West, I stayed a very new and popular luxury hotel in Las Vegas, one I have to say I was very much looking forward to experiencing. At check-in I was told my room wasn’t ready and had to spend some time working with the desk clerk to find an available room of a comparable type. Since we were traveling with a large party of people, we had previously requested of the hotel that we would like to all of our rooms to be together if possible, however that didn’t happen at all.
The room itself was very nice and comfortable, unfortunately when we wanted to use the refrigerator we found out that the previous guest had left some items in there that had exploded and made a mess, so we called housekeeping to arrange for it to be cleaned. By the time we checked out three days later, they had yet to come and clean the refrigerator. To compound the situation, housekeeping only made the bed and left us a half service of towels one day and none the next - when I called to try to get things resolved, each time I was told that it would be resolved, which it never was.
On the second day, the phone in the room stopped working, and the only way I found out was that my associates called my cell phone to say they had tried the room with no response. Each time I called either the “Hot Line” or housekeeping, there appeared to be no friendliness or caring in neither the person’s voice, nor a reassurance that things might get resolved in the room. No one from management ever called to check into the situation, even though I must have spoken to several supervisors on various occasions. When it was time to check-out I tried to speak to a manager, but was told that they were all too busy, so I told the person handling the waiting line at the front desk about the hotel’s mishaps.
She was sympathetic but said she could only see if she could get us a manager to assist, and when it was my turn to finally checkout I then spent the next 20 minutes speaking with the desk clerk about all that had happened. The desk clerk was also sympathetic and did his best to review the account charges and make amends for the situation; however I would have preferred the appropriate service level, as I had expected. He then got into a dialogue about the current situation at the hotel with management, housekeeping and service complaints, before next asking me what I did for a living.
When I told him, he asked that I contact his senior management and let them know about my experiences. It seemed he had worked at several area hotels and was befuddled at the lack of continuity and professionalism at the hotel and said he would like to use my experience at his next shift meeting, with my permission, I of course said yes with one request of my own, that he mention to his managers the following: HOSPITALITY – MAYBE YOU HAVE HEARD OF IT?