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Arrival and Departure experiences - another hotel

Running a hotel for our trainees (and other business customers) on one hand, and staying in hotels regularly while away on business on the other hand gives me a rare chance to see closely what goes on from both sides, in depth. And it's a great chance to learn for our own hotel - to take the best ideas and use them as appropriate on one hand, and to take the worst experiences and say "why did that happen" and make sure it doesn't happen to our customers.

Some notes from the last two nights, spent at the Holiday Inn at Histon, near Cambridge. And I'm going to highlight the arrival and departure experiences.

Arrival. After a LONG day, I didn't want to have to wait in line behind 20 tourists checking in, each of whom had their passports being photocopied. Yet their money is good income for the hotel too, who are left with something of a conundrum as to how to handle the situation. I'll simply record an "open verdict" on what should have been done, and note that it's a situation that will not occur with us, in consideration of our small size.

However ... when I get to the front of the line, my checking form is showing a room rate 19 pounds per night higher than the room rate I selected on line, and I'm asked to provide a credit card and enter my pin to authorise a figure 50% highere again. We get it sorted - apparently the room rate is 38 pounds more for the first night that the second but it's just the first night shown.

Part of the arrival experience is finding my way to the room and getting on line; I seemed to have the longest walk in the hotel (and poorly signed), and found I had a smoking room. Hmm - I know I had, as a late booking, only been able to express a preference for non, but a "sorry couldn't do" would have been nice from the checkin clerk. Online easily enough, but the 15 pounds a day just a few minutes after trying to push my room rate up by 20 made me feel that profit must come before customers here. The well laid out welcome tray, the thankfully large work desk, and the power points above the desk didn't completely clear the feeling, and the fact that I had to negotiate 4 buttons on my TV remote to find the free TV, when I could have been watching adult movies in just two click, confirmed my view.

Departure. "I think I should try their breakfast" I thought to myself on my last morning - advertised as a great way to start the day in my room but with no mention of price, I kinda guessed it might not be cheap. It was 13.75. Buffet, but excellent buffet; multiple citrus fruit, wide, wide range of traditional breakfast, and a note to ask for smoked haddock, kippers or porridge. Although we can't match in range, we DO match in quality and indeed we exceed. No real juice - no FRESH croissants and bread, and one of the precut grapefurit bowls was going slighly rancid. It re-iterated for me the ingredient QUALITY that we go for, and how important it is for it to be fresh.

I was dreading checkout - that long line of people patiently waiting to pay as I had come in for breakfast, so I was attacted by the "checkout over breakfast" offer on which I took the hotel up. My initial enquiry of the hostess as to whether I could re-access my room having checked out lead to an answer that I couldn't understand as she struggled with English, but in a few minutes one of the front of house team turned up with my bill, assured me I could get back in, and completed the procedure. Fast, painless, recommended. As they don't seem to have a hands-free credit card machine, my card had to be taken around the back and a chit to sign was produced.

I think we could do the same. For sure, if a guest asks for us to check them out while they're at breakfast we're already set up so that we could do so. Perhaps it's something we should make a bigger deal of?
(written 2007-05-26, updated 2007-05-29)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter for individual articles
M401 - Well House Manor - Seeing how others do it
  [4443] Seventh stay away this year - and it's still only February! - (2015-02-25)
  [4373] A long and disappointing evening - (2014-12-30)
  [4348] Taking my life in my hands in Swansea - (2014-12-11)
  [4321] Are administration / review charges on hotel guests acceptable? - (2014-11-20)
  [4255] Making a personal gain from a more expensive business hotel stay - (2014-04-02)
  [4245] It always happens to me when I'm in Borehamwood! - (2014-03-06)
  [4177] Setting and publishing your hours to suit your customer base - (2013-09-18)
  [4109] What might you find at a tiny bed and breakfast? - (2013-06-03)
  [4093] More things to make sure that we do NOT do ... - (2013-05-18)
  [4091] A reminder of why we opened Well House Manor for our customers - (2013-05-17)
  [4081] Pushing down the advertised price, pushing up the total price charged. - (2013-05-08)
  [4058] The highs and lows of customer service - Cheltenham - (2013-04-03)
  [3975] Being an amateur hotel inspector helps me run a professional hotel - (2013-01-14)
  [3970] Comparing four VERY different places to stay - (2013-01-11)
  [3963] National TV - Melksham - 9th January 2013, Pre-alert. - (2012-12-27)
  [3900] The Xxxxx Guest House in Xxxxxxxxxxx - my stay reviewed - (2012-10-20)
  [3794] Should hotel staff sit on the toilet in the customer bedrooms? - (2012-07-02)
  [3776] Some traps it's so easy to fall into in designing your web site - (2012-06-23)
  [3754] Eyes Wide Open - (2012-06-06)
  [3368] Well House Manor hotel, Melksham - recommended to you by our customers - (2011-07-23)
  [3333] Honesty and a friendly welcome goes a long way - (2011-06-25)
  [3054] Longhope Hotel - (2010-11-16)
  [2911] Feeding the Grockles - (2010-08-09)
  [2885] Twenty Questions - (2010-07-24)
  [2502] Monday night, Tuesday night - (2009-11-13)
  [2441] Not your cup of tea? - (2009-10-08)
  [2413] Sanity checking the price, and selling up to increase income - (2009-09-21)
  [2311] Floor to ceiling - (2009-07-30)
  [2308] A new place in pictures - (2009-07-28)
  [2127] Call in the professionals! - (2009-04-12)
  [2105] Hire Car, from Atlanta Airport - (2009-03-27)
  [2007] Launch of Melksham Food and Drink Festival - (2009-01-24)
  [1915] Quietly putting prices up - (2008-12-02)
  [1758] Lindors Hotel, near St. Briavels, Wye Valley - (2008-08-18)
  [1672] The Composting Cone Challenge - (2008-06-10)
  [1597] Comparing hotels - as a guest and from the proprietors view - (2008-04-01)
  [1547] New bathing idea for hotels from Hotelympia - (2008-02-20)
  [1525] Just one thing let the service down - but that is my memory - (2008-01-31)
  [1458] The wrong way to put up prices - (2007-12-05)
  [1454] From Sunday to Monday, from Melksham to the Balkans - (2007-12-03)
  [1413] The little gestures that can really count - (2007-10-27)
  [1406] Away or home - which do I prefer? - (2007-10-25)
  [1374] Maidenhead Coffee Challenge - (2007-10-02)
  [1356] Crystal Ball - How long do I need to be online? - (2007-09-18)
  [1354] Match the Bedroom to the Hotel - (2007-09-17)
  [1347] Wireless Internet Access at hotels - an update and some pitfalls - (2007-09-12)
  [1333] Kasteel Elsloo - Michelin rated hotel. - (2007-09-05)
  [1301] Plastic or China - (2007-08-12)
  [1287] Work and play at Well House Manor - Football and Shell Shortcuts - (2007-08-02)
  [1091] The Psyche is all wrong. - (2007-02-24)
  [1026] The Wheatsheaf 2, The Bell 0 - (2007-01-09)
  [1011] Well House Manor and Beechfield House, Hotels, Melksham - (2006-12-29)
  [966] CSL, KISS and RTFM - (2006-12-05)
  [736] New Tape Librarian - (2006-05-28)
  [714] Room for Octopuses - (2006-05-08)
  [699] Extremes costs of getting on line - (2006-04-25)
  [693] The on line booking experience - (2006-04-21)
  [619] If its Sunday, it must be the Norland - (2006-02-23)
  [514] Crazy Day-sies - (2005-12-02)
  [17] Differing tastes - (2004-08-17)

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Spot the difference
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Where and When - can you place the picture?
Some other Articles
Where did the Bank Holiday go?
Meet other local businesses in Melksham
Simple but effective use of mod_rewrite (Apache httpd)
Where and When - can you place the picture?
Arrival and Departure experiences - another hotel
Spot the difference
A Fresh horse
Returning multiple values from a function (Perl, PHP, Python)
No switch in Python
Training information - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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