A Tale of Two Hotels

Jerry Posner, The Posner Group
How important is customer loyalty to your business?  Silly question, isn’t it?
My friends and clients in the hospitality industry share their stories with me: business is generally down and the battle for guests is often fierce.  So, one would assume that hotel staffs would be extra attentive, extra hospitable and extra kind to their guests.  After all, attention, hospitality and kindness do not cost more to provide.
Pleasant phone tone, eye contact, using guests’ names, making recommendations and suggestions, quick and sincere service recovery … all small things that, combined with good product, can create a more positive emotional experience, and thus, loyalty.
I was recently a guest at two comparable hotels, similar facilities and price point. I have stayed at each before.
I checked in to the Holiday Inn, Concord NH, and was pleasantly greeted at the front desk, given a few amenities that come with my Priority Club membership (including two free snacks or beverages from the hotel store), and an envelope with my name on it.  I opened it and read a HANDWRITTEN note card welcoming me back, thanking me for my business, and reminding me that, if I had any problems or needs, to contact the manager on duty, and it was signed by her.  This impressed me.  So much so, that I’ve been reading it to my workshop and seminar attendees.
My wake-up call the next morning was made by a real person.  Pleasant voice, good tone, just right for 5:30 AM.  I liked that.  And, not only was the required USA Today at my door, but a local newspaper as well.  Nice touch.
These small things have increased my own loyalty, and helped to convert me from a satisfied customer into a raving fan and apostle.  I speak their praises in my speeches, blog about them, and mention them in my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn missives.
Then there is the other one.  I’ve had problems with the promised 3:00 cookies not showing up in the past, but that’s another story.  Check-in was fine.  I was given a bottle of water and a small bag of low-fat Oreos as my amenities, as well as some scratch tickets good for a complimentary breakfast.  I asked how early the restaurant opened, and was told 6:30.
The wake-up call was automated, and the person on the recording spoke too fast, as if she just wanted to get it over with.  I showed up at the restaurant at 6:30 on the nose.  It was dark.  At 6:40, a young lady appeared to set up the buffet.  She said, in a very tired voice, that she’ll be open as soon as she could, and left me standing there.
I walked around the lobby for a while.  There were people in the office, but no one at the desk.  I returned to the restaurant to hear the young lady in the back laughing with, I presume, the cook.  I stood there.  A few others guests came and went.  At 6:55 I was seated.  I ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon.  The order came, and there was enough food for two or three breakfasts piled on my plate.  Kind of wasteful, I thought.
I wanted to tell the front desk person about this.  After all, if I were the manager, I’d certainly want to know.  But, after standing at the front desk for a few minutes with no one there, I just went back to my room.  In fact, almost every time I interacted with the front desk, I was treated with indifference, at times bordering on rude.
Picky?  Petty?  Perhaps.
But people form opinions based on how they feel.  The Holiday Inn Concord, NH made me feel welcome, valued and cared about.
Here’s the kicker – I received a phone call from the GM at Concord.  He heard that I praised his front desk staff, and he wanted to thank me!
Some hotels, restaurants, banks, hospitals get it right.  SO right, that their customers and guests do become raving fans.  In today’s economic climate more than ever, it makes sense to be like the folks at Holiday Inn, Concord, NH.

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Hotels

  1. Of course, Jeff meant this comment for the other post … but this being my initial venture into the world of blogging, I’ll take any comment on any post that I can get 😉

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