Due to the nature of my job, I spend a lot of time in hotels, and lately I’ve been lucky enough to be working with the staff in one particular establishment, which has me thinking (and I hope has them thinking too!). If nothing else it has at least guaranteed me a more personal standard of service.
The first time I stayed I was taken with a canvas on one of the walls depicting an early freight carrying aircraft. I’ve become very familiar with that image since, because the same picture hangs in every single room in that hotel. I’ve been talking to the staff a lot about the importance of consistency in Customer Service so that the customer knows what to expect (think about Coca Cola) but this wasn’t what I had in mind!
In contrast, one of the places that I spent the night this week was unique, though I’m not sure what message the customer gets from a hotel that has an outbuilding labelled armoury, a jailhouse bar, and is surrounded by high walls and lookout towers! I felt imprisoned despite the attempts to soften the effect with copious greenery.
But it was another hotel chain still that made an impression on me this week, one where any greenery would be swamped by the colour purple. I’ve often wondered whether this branding is an attempt to appeal to the subconscious of a British public raised on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate. Dressing Lenny Henry in purple pyjamas just strengthens the association!
They certainly don’t skimp on the use of the colour; there must be acres of carpets, fabrics and accessories in their storerooms to maintain that hue across their extensive empire.
You certainly can’t knock their consistency when it comes to decor, but sadly there is a problem hiding behind the need to deliver this “sameness”; management feel they have to measure it, which means mystery shoppers, which means robotic behaviours from employees trying to cover everything that a mystery shopper might have on their checklist instead of trying to meet a customer’s need.
On Wednesday I was in one such purple palace and eating in the on-site restaurant where my experience was something like this:
“Hi, my names Nikki and I’ll be serving you tonight. Also serving are Angela, Kiera, Kendra, and someone else but I can never remember all the names. Do you have a prepaid voucher or have you purchased a meal plan? Our soup tonight is tomato and basil; I’ll be back in a moment to take your order.”
Apart from the fact that I don’t really care what the entire staff are called, I was still relaxed at this point when two members of staff approached me, one a trainee, and went through the entire script again before taking my order. They clearly didn’t tell Nikki though who was back a few minutes later.
This wasn’t enough for them to feel they had done their duty though, for when my food arrived I was interrupted three times (once by each protagonist) during its consumption to enquire whether everything was ok with my food and did I require any sauces? Were I more florid in complexion I might have provided the purple at that point.
Is it too much to ask to arrive at a hotel, be given a key, a comfortable room, and a bit of peace after a busy day? Instead I had to provide my own tranquility… but even that was purple!