Guests’ first and last impressions

Yesterday I ran a workshop at a hotel. This was for a third party, so I had not been involved with the booking, but had the conference organiser’s name. Ironically the word “Welcome” was in the title of the workshop….

On arrival there was just one person at reception at the normally busy checkout time. She happened to be dealing with a guest’s bill, which one might expect at this time of day. But, I received absolutely no eye contact or acknowledgement that I had even been seen. I decided to try and locate another member of staff, or at least the meeting room where the workshop would be run. Any signs? No.

I came back to reception, laden with my bags, reluctant to leave my laptop unattended. By which time of course the lone receptionist was deep in the transaction of the next guest.

I waited.

Finally I had her attention and asked for my contact. “That’s me” she says, without a hint of apology for keeping me waiting.

So she finally comes out from behind the typical unwelcoming barrier of the reception desk, to appear in the most inappropriate dress I think I’ve even seen on a receptionist!  (Leggings, low cut smock top, bare ankles).  Mmm, not a good first impression……

Did they redeem themselves? Well, they could have done.

But, when it was time to leave, I passed 3 members of staff on the way out. Not one of them offered to help with my bags, not one of them thanked me for my custom, and not one or asked for any feedback. Not only did I not feel valued as a customer; what a wasted opportunity to get some feedback. Although I was not paying the bill, I’m sure that one booking earned the hotel considerably more revenue than any single accommodation bookings that day. And they certainly weren’t so busy that they could not have taken 2 minutes to ask me.

What seemed to be lacking was any hotel management, training or systems.  Did anyone recognise the  importance of first impressions?

The thing is, what was delivered in between was actually quite good. But it’s what your guests see first and last that leaves the greatest impression. And it’s that impression I’ll be thinking of when my client asks for feedback on the venue.

Caroline Cooper

The welcome is just one of the topics discussed by my guests on the tele seminar series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge

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3 thoughts on “Guests’ first and last impressions

  1. Janet

    This is why I set up Silent! Yesterday, I went to my local printers in Henley but i was a two mins before 9am so the doors were locked. As I stood there someone came to unlock the door and left. If I had been a friend of theirs I am almost possitive they would have opened the door and welcomed me in with a smile but, because I was just a customer I clearly was not worthy of one! Lordy!!!!!

  2. CommentBox

    It sounds like that hotel needs CommentBox (http://www.comment-box.co.uk/)! A new customer service feedback tool that allows customers/hotel guests to send their feedback direct to the management via SMS, whereupon they can act on it instantly if needed. The SMS feedback is easy, quick and anonymous (unless the customer chooses otherwise), and the hotel management get useful feedback on issues, including small issues that wouldn’t normally be brought to their attention.

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