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A Pivotal Incident - learning how to welcome your guests

It's odd what little incident can turn out to be a "pivotal", isn't it? What's just a tiny happening, a couple of words spoken by one person and then forgotten by them can influence the whole future for someone else.

I picked up some course delegates from Bristol Airport late one night in 2005 ... a delayed flight from Dublin, with the arrival time slipping later and later as the plane (I later learned) had a last minute technical issue dealt with after the passengers had boarded. You can imagine just how worn my delegates were as we got into the car and drove across to Melksham. These were the days before we ran a hotel - our training centre was non-residential (it's now our HQ), and our visitors stayed at some of the B&Bs in town which were much more suited to the tourist, to the detriment of business trade such as ours. We got to Melksham just before 1 a.m., went to the Lxxxxxxx where our guests were booked - to be greeted by an irate owner who asked "what sort of time do you call this?". What a great shame she didn't give a chance for an apology, and an explanation of the delay during which it hadn't been possible to call.

A pivotal conversation - a confirmation that we needed to go ahead with our idea to provide business guest accommodation. To allow for arrivals at the time that guests want to arrive, and not at the convenience of others. And to allow for travel plans that can go wrong.

On Thursday evening / Friday morning, a guest (estimated at 9 p.m.) arrived at ten to 2 in the morning. We had been warned of a flight delay, but not been warned of how long that delay would be - I suspect the person letting us know wasn't informed. And what reception did we give the gentelman arriving? We greeted him with a smile, we checked him in quickly (for he just wanted to sleep), we made him welcome as we addressed him by name, and in French. "12 hours from Lyons" he told us.

At Well House Manor, we're set up for arrivals at just about any time - from midmorning if our guests have flown in on a "redeye" from the USA and cleared customs at Heathrow at breakfast time, through to the early hours for guests who are arriving on the last flight of the night into Bristol, and find it delayed. And everyone is greeted with a smile - we know not what they have been through, and we're not about to assume that they're thoughtless - the late arrivals are usually feeling pretty guilty about keeping us up.

There is, of course, a "trick" to being so naturally welcoming at a late hour - and that's having something useful to do during those sometimes long hours when everyone else is asleep. So that in no sense is it "wasted" time. It could be time spent on laundry. It could be time spent checking sense, spelling and currentness of old blog articles, or it could be (as it was the other night) adding descriptions to images in our image library - long term work which helps our search engine placement, and doesn't necessarily need us to be the most awake. And jobs that can be picked up and left quickly once the final guests have arrived, and we're sure, too, that they've settled down and that follow up help and hotel service is not needed until the morning.

Well House Manor in the early hoursBecause we're not "just waiting around", we can welcome you at any time! Not really a criticism of others who can't - though those who are agressive to their customers to the extent it makes a lasting impression should be ashamed of themselves - just that it's our business - making business trips a pleasure at Well House Manor.

Illustration - Well House Manor, at about half past two on Friday morning. The final guest has been settled in,and it's the middle of the night.

(written 2012-03-18, updated 2012-03-24)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter for individual articles
M400 - Well House Manor - The Hospitality Business
  [4613] Our best hotel customers help us ... to help them ... be our best customers. - (2016-01-04)
  [4603] Happy New Year. Our customers are our ambassadors - (2016-01-01)
  [4543] Saturday morning at Well House Manor - (2015-10-17)
  [4521] Should we get an AA or Visit Wiltshire hotel assessment? - (2015-10-09)
  [4321] Are administration / review charges on hotel guests acceptable? - (2014-11-20)
  [4232] Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy - (2013-12-30)
  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4051] On reading a new hotel review - (2013-03-24)
  [4033] Official Star ratings for hotels - still worth having? - (2013-03-07)
  [3988] Three cheers for the staff at Well House Manor - (2013-01-24)
  [3909] Every Customer Counts - (2012-11-01)
  [3838] Guest review - Well House Manor, Melksham - (2012-08-14)
  [3832] A busy day at Well House Manor - so come in and make it even busier! - (2012-08-10)
  [3743] Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28)
  [3309] Tipping Policy - Well House Manor - (2011-05-29)
  [3164] Brown - or Mrs Sally Brown, accountant from Whitstable? - (2011-02-10)
  [3147] Hotel star ratings - towards a better system of review - (2011-01-25)
  [2936] The service that customers should receive - (2010-08-27)
  [2879] Night Porter and reception - 24 hours a day? - (2010-07-20)
  [2724] Escapee Grandparents welcome - Henfield and Melksham - (2010-04-15)
  [2593] Food and drink launch - (2010-01-21)
  [2303] Turning potential customers away - (2009-07-24)
  [2283] Everyone is in the customer relations business - (2009-07-12)
  [2007] Launch of Melksham Food and Drink Festival - (2009-01-24)
  [1877] Guests doing a bunk? - (2008-11-09)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1622] An extra step - victory from defeat - (2008-04-25)
  [1548] Hotelympia - show report - the lighter side - (2008-02-21)
  [1445] Looking after you Christmas Customer Crowds - (2007-11-26)
  [1422] Wiltshire - speaker / after dinner talker offer - (2007-11-05)
  [1421] Castle Lodge Hotel, Ely, Cambridgeshire - (2007-11-04)
  [1284] An update on the West Wilts show ... - (2007-07-30)
  [1248] How NOT to oversell a hotel - (2007-06-27)
  [1180] Conjugation - (2007-05-08)
  [1161] A contrast in room rates and facilities - (2007-04-25)
  [1122] Hotel - online feedback forms compared - (2007-03-30)
  [1108] Express service - (2007-03-14)
  [1084] Writing terms and conditions for conferences and other events - (2007-02-17)
  [1048] Getting rid of people - hotel techniques - (2007-01-21)
  [1046] Bounce, bounce, bounce - (2007-01-20)
  [1002] Meet the neighbours - (2006-12-20)
  [988] You should think you're first in a hotel room - (2006-12-15)
  [922] Staying at your own hotel - (2006-11-12)
  [884] Drive time - (2006-10-02)
  [774] Bed and Breakfast, or Hotel? - (2006-06-22)

Back to
Welcome to Melksham - our new communities
Previous and next
Horse's mouth home
Forward to
Keeping forum and blog comments clean
Some other Articles
Error checking in a Python program - making your program robust via exceptions
Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years
Finding all the unique lines in a file, using Python or Perl
Keeping forum and blog comments clean
A Pivotal Incident - learning how to welcome your guests
Welcome to Melksham - our new communities
Using Make for a distribution
Basham Festival, Melksham, early August 2012 - a welcome
TrainWest 2012 - 14th and 15th April, Melksham, Wiltshire
Sights and scenes - more London trip pictures
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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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