Your Hotel SHOULD Sweat the Little Things

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A recent overnight hotel stay proved to me that just because one aspect of a business runs well doesn’t mean all the others do too.

Hotel franchisees must follow strict adherence to marketing, branding, RevPar, etc. all with the intent of satisfying the “flag standards” and providing the guests with a focused message of quality and service.

Front desk agents wear company approved uniforms, the lobby is adorned in the designer’s choices of colors, and the amenities are designed to attract the intended market segment.

All must be part of a cohesive message. 

But why isn’t this followed in the F&B part of the operation?

Today’s limited service or “express-style” properties are intended to provide clean, reasonably-priced rooms with the short-term traveler, looking for the next level up in quality in mind.

Many limited service hotels provide a free hot breakfast buffet, free wifi and daily newspapers, expanded gym; all to attract the next level of travelers…and they do a great job.

But I have noticed a disturbing trend in one department: the lack of attention to detail with the “free breakfast.”

As mentioned, my recent stay showed that the breakfast—in this case it wasn’t free and there was also a buffet dinner offered—lacked the same attention to detail as followed in all other departments.

This failing is not property-specific. I have noticed the same lack of attention to detail at other similar level properties, even those that excel in other areas.

The breakfast offered a reasonable selection of items, especially at the price point given.  This was well done.  But they also failed on many fronts:

  • One server, wearing black pants, had a large white cell phone sticking out of her rear pocket
  • Another server didn’t bother to even tuck in his buttoned-down white shirt, and the rounded bottom draped below his crotch
  • Tables were not cleaned as well as they should be and still showed beverage residue from their last use

And the thing that frankly bothered me the most was the…

  • Half-empty salt and pepper shakers that were seemingly tossed anywhere on the tables.

I don’t expect fine dining from a limited service hotel restaurant, nor should anyone else. I am realistic and fully understand the realities of payroll costs and how they relate to the bottom line.

But I highly doubt that the same branding experts that designed the lobby furniture and front desk counter would fail in their efforts to provide a similar level of service to their food offerings.

What impression is left in the minds of your guests when mixed messages are sent?

Examples:

If the restaurant looks like this, what do the rooms look like?

If the tables are dirty, what will the bathrooms look like?

If management doesn’t care how the service staff look, can I expect the same level of apathy if the in-room heat or air conditioning stops working?

The front desk proudly displays a plaque with the GM’s name emblazoned on it. The in-room paperwork includes a letter from the GM too. He/she takes pride in the services provided. But what about the restaurant?  Where is the accountability?

Just because a property is not high-end doesn’t mean you can’t strive to be better. Your guests expect high quality, even at discounted price.

It’s the little things that matter, but only if we are willing to see them.