Twenty questions for our hotel team to ask themselves ...
1. Is our Internet access easy and obvious to find rather than having to search through a load of hubs called things like "netgear" that are around the place?
2. Are our power points easy to find and near the desk space, and is there enough desk space?
3. Do we ask our customers if they had a good day / good journey when they arrive?
4. Do we ask our customers if there's any other information they need or anything else we can do for them?
5. Do we take our customers to the room, or just take them to the bottom of the stairs and point up saying "it's up there"?
6. If asked for local directions, do we offer to sell our guests a local map, or do we have something we can give them with our compliments?
7. Picture question - Do the window frames in our bathrooms look like this?
8. Do we advertise something at £5.95 in the room, but then have a newer version of the same sheet in reception and offer it there at £7.25? Then tell our customers they must have misread the information in the room when they query it?
9. If we were to offer apple sauce, and the offer was taken up, would we provide a fresh pot or one that had clearly been nearly used up on another table?
10. Do we offer breakfast earlier than an 8 a.m. start?
11. Do we request payment the night before if guests are leaving before 8 (said in one place), 8:30 (in another) and 9 (in a third)
12. If we're going to have an argument between staff, do we do it where customers at breakfast can hear and appreciate the words being exchanged?
13. Do we vacuum clean the room next to the breakfast room at the height of breakfast service?
14. Do we seat single customers in the back seat without the good view at dinner, and by the kitchen door at breakfast, on a table that's only half set - short of salt, pepper, menu ...
15. Do we serve instant coffee in stylist stainless cafeterias with plungers to make it look as if it's real coffee?
16. Do we provide a leisurely breakfast - although it's an 8 O'Clock start, food isn't actually served until twenty past (half past if the staff aren't told it's urgent)
17. When guests check out, do we present them with a bill for one more day than they actually stayed (and with the total line well hidden) in the hope they won't notice and we'll get more income?
18. Picture question - Do our tables look like this?
19. Do we go round and check with people while they're eating, or leave them to finish their meal alone?
20. On check in, do we ask people to sign in on a form that's been amended and it's clear that the rooms have been shifted around - leaving them wondering what is wrong with room 17, or have we been put in the "dunce" room because a more important customer wanted 17.
I an happy with the answers that I can personally give for Well House Manor
on each of these questions, which were inspired by a hotel that I stayed in very recently.
I'm very much aware that with some of the questions, there are arguments as to what is the correct action anyway. For example, there is a "staff will be seen and not heard" ethos in some places and it could be argued that asking "did you have a good journey" is getting overly familiar; for our accommodation - mostly for business travellers often on their own, I think that an opening of this sort should be (and it is) made, and a lead then taken from the guest as to whether a conversation follows or it shuts down.
I'm copying this list to our whole team - saying - "please think of how WE do on each of these issues". I always want to be reviewing, and my stays in lots of different places let me bring back the good and the bad experiences and thoughts and we can all gain from these. What reaction do I want from our team? If one or two things - not necessarily on the list, but brought up from wider thought - come up, that's tops. If we find nothing, we're being too smug. And if we get more than a handful, then we have some issues, I think!
(written 2010-07-24, updated 2010-07-30)
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