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Will will smile?

Will won't! The waiter for the second half of my meal later was labelled (and I'm sure named) "Will", but I mused that "Won't" would have been more fitting.

I've been something of a fan of Travel Inn, then Premier Travel Inn and now Premier Inn over the years, and seen them grow. But as organisations grow, they can lose their personallity, their edge, and those tiny things that may have once made them special. Indeed, that's a conversation I had just yesterday with one of the delegates on my course talking about another company completely that we happened both to know. And within individual branches, too, things can go a bit off beam.

The piece of paper bluetacked onto the wall of the lift advises Saturday and Sunday guests that the restarurant will be very busy and they should expect to be delayed between 08:30 and 10:30 on those mornings, with a warning that it gets quite busy from 08:00 to 08:30 too, and that 07:30 to 08:00 is when groups should eat. Why is this sign up on Wednesday? If the hotel management know they have a systemic problem in handling the customers at this time, shouldn't they do something about it, more positive than trying to warn customers off to other times? And wouldn't something better than a tacky piece of paper, on which someone has doodled over the past weeks, create a better impression?

I knew they were busy last night as I stood at "please wait to be seated", looked around and saw lots of people with empty plates in front of them, and lots with nothing, with just a sprinkling of eaters. One young lady was instructing another on till use in some way, smiled and said "I'll be with you in a second"; "I'll be with you in a minute" would have been far closer, but we'll forgive her the turn of phrase.

The single traveller (this one, anyway) prefers to be at the edge of the restaurant, but I was out of luck seated at a small table that filled the gap between a number of larger ones with groups, and I was relievd that I had brought down a laptop on which I could write. I also had an excellent view of the kitchen door, which gave me alternative occupation (observation of people at work) when I got bored with writing. A good job that I had things to do; eating in a restuarant on your own can be soul-destroying and boring, and a surley waiter/waitress and slow service doesn't help. And I was seated at that table, in total, for no less than 90 minutes.

I did get a smile from Colleen, who took my order and did the initial service. Slightly unhappy when I didn't want to select a desert before I had even started my starter or received my drink, perhaps because she knew she was moving across the restaurant and wanted to be the one to pocket any tip. But still a smile. The food was perfectly acceptable (but that was one step down from the "very good" rating I would have given on Monday evening to the same kitchen), but slow in arriving. Then Will arrived. I could swear that he really didn't want to be at work as he grimaced at customers and shuffled around. And I noted that he opened the kitchen door with a vicious kick when serving. He took my desert order; came back somewhat later with my Apple Crumble and Ice Cream so far across the plate from each other that I could have sworn that the Ice Cream was frightened of the crumble. He wasn't interested in seeing if I wanted a coffee (as had the waiter the other evening, and is good practise) and as he brought the bill over in one of those bill folders, he tossed it up in the air, let it drop on the floor, picked it up and put it straight from the floor onto the table in front of me. Granted, I wasn't going to be eating off it, but I think that's a food hygeine no-no, isn't it?

Lenny Henry tells me that everything here is premium, but the price. And that rooms are available from 29 pounds. Hmm - on Sunday to Wednesday, they were in the mid 70s. And come last night (when I extended, as I've got a further meeting today), it had risen to nearly 100. "But we've only a few rooms left, sir" was the answer when I queried this - which tells me that price I was being charged did indeed have a premium on it. Modern computing systems allow demand to be monitored, and prices tuned on a booking by booking basis - we see it with airline flights, with advanced train tickets. And now it seems we've also got an extra element in hotels beyond just "which night", "which room" and advanced purchase. I think it could be called "profiteering".

I'm conscious that this post is a negative one. Being constructive, "if this were my place" I would look to making a systemic change to speed up service - it's a waste of table resource having someone who doesn't want a long meal sat for 90 minutes when you could be selling that table a second time and end up with two happy customers not one moaning one. I would publish an [extension] "room rate up to" chart of the sort which are a legal requirement in many countries, perhaps giving extending guests a pleasant surprise when the price was lower. And I would look for someting for Will to do that would make him happier; handing out plates of food to tired and tipsy middle aged businessmen isn't everyone's cup of tea, but there are plenty of people (including Claudio my waiter on Monday, and Colleen) who seem to enjoy customer service.

My next visit to Cambridge? Not staying here; I regret going up market from my frienldly little B&B, and in hindsight I should have stayed there are changed my room midweek as they didn't have any one room all the way through. The big differences? The smile, and the feeling of a fair deal.
(written 2012-03-22, updated 2012-03-24)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G502 - Well House Consultants - Business Practice
  [15] 90 to 10 or 80 to 20 rule - (2004-08-15)
  [27] Sales technique - (2004-08-25)
  [68] Get the strategy worked out and the tactics just fall into place. - (2004-09-30)
  [77] Telephone systems - (2004-10-07)
  [88] Getting the right level of trainer - (2004-10-14)
  [95] Five red flags - (2004-10-21)
  [108] A typical morning - (2004-11-03)
  [121] Fair and Simple - (2004-11-17)
  [125] Staff theft - (2004-11-21)
  [129] Trawling our site to prevent student copying - (2004-11-24)
  [137] Certification schemes - (2004-12-02)
  [157] Automatic service upgrades - (2004-12-19)
  [180] Skunk works - (2005-01-17)
  [188] Pink elephant and appreciation - (2005-01-24)
  [200] Tips for the top - (2005-02-03)
  [211] Look after your staff and they'll look after you. AOL. - (2005-02-12)
  [217] Use of time - (2005-02-16)
  [226] Growing our systems - (2005-02-24)
  [297] A reminder that the customer is King - (2005-05-01)
  [321] Sales - the alternative close - (2005-05-23)
  [399] simplicity hides real size - (2005-07-31)
  [438] Fair system for travel and accommodation expenses - (2005-09-07)
  [457] Do the work and take the risk - a PHP contract to avoid - (2005-10-06)
  [467] Tell them three times - (2005-10-17)
  [487] On line course booking - credit card protection - (2005-11-06)
  [491] Being atypical is typical - (2005-11-10)
  [536] Cancellations and penalties - (2005-12-21)
  [626] Not just a pretty face to answer the phone. - (2006-02-26)
  [652] Morning Post - (2006-03-20)
  [664] Ruby course - oops - it's not happening - (2006-04-01)
  [766] Discounts and approved supplier lists - (2006-06-17)
  [808] Sales call - (2006-07-19)
  [849] Staff Meeting - (2006-08-30)
  [869] UNABLE TO ATTEND - (2006-09-16)
  [883] Age discrimination law - (2006-10-01)
  [906] A commitment we won't be making - (2006-10-27)
  [1057] Selling by phone and Skype - our policy - (2007-01-30)
  [1084] Writing terms and conditions for conferences and other events - (2007-02-17)
  [1133] B-2-B Networking, 20th April. Useful for YOUR business? - (2007-04-03)
  [1157] Speed Networking - a great evening and how we arranged it - (2007-04-21)
  [1165] Extended Credit request - train in June and be paid in September - (2007-04-27)
  [1243] Heavy duty hole punch - (2007-06-24)
  [1260] An inspirational business talk from one of our prospective MPs - (2007-07-06)
  [1263] 0800 043 8225 - a new phone number for Well House - (2007-07-10)
  [1319] Customer feedback - lifeblood of a business - (2007-08-25)
  [1342] Google, wwmdirectory, Freshwater, ATP - new scam? - (2007-09-09)
  [1373] New Month, New Quarter, New Laws - (2007-10-01)
  [1394] Business to Business Networking - North and West Wilts / Melksham - (2007-10-17)
  [1453] What makes our courses special? - (2007-12-02)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1626] Early May - a short chance to regroup and improve - (2008-05-01)
  [1713] Ways to accept credit cards - or not! - (2008-07-19)
  [1855] Volunteer v Employee - a skewed balance? (FSB) - (2008-10-25)
  [1913] Alastair Darling helps make paperwork and confusion - (2008-11-30)
  [2044] Please Trouble me - (2009-02-16)
  [2122] Commission Creep - (2009-04-08)
  [2126] Weeding out old phone numbers - (2009-04-11)
  [2161] Get it right ... if it goes wrong, it takes so much effort to sort out! - (2009-05-08)
  [2187] Are we IITT (Institute of IT Training) members? - (2009-05-17)
  [2190] How you are (re)presented at an exhibition - (2009-05-19)
  [2283] Everyone is in the customer relations business - (2009-07-12)
  [2331] Certification Revisted - Lua - (2009-08-09)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2598] An excuse for making a sales call - (2010-01-26)
  [2788] Cost of Sales - (2010-06-01)
  [2821] Chancellor George Osborne inspires Perl Program - (2010-06-22)
  [2936] The service that customers should receive - (2010-08-27)
  [2966] Cheap Country Hotel in Melksham, Wiltshire? - (2010-09-21)
  [3073] Customer Service - the boundary - (2010-11-27)
  [3157] A new monopoly on the ferry to Northern Ireland - (2011-02-04)
  [3333] Honesty and a friendly welcome goes a long way - (2011-06-25)
  [3506] Cold call contacts - preference services and turning off spam sales approaches - (2011-11-03)
  [3613] Keeping Business Local. But is that realistic? - (2012-02-13)
  [3750] Matching opening hours to when customers can come in and buy - (2012-06-04)
  [3755] Cruising on the Mersey Ferry? - (2012-06-07)
  [4107] Snog, Marry, Avoid - (2013-05-31)
  [4293] Certification - (2014-09-15)
  [4415] Buffet review - taking the price into account - (2015-02-05)
  [4520] No cold sales calls please - but delighted to hear from others! - (2015-09-29)

Back to
Error checking in a Python program - making your program robust via exceptions
Previous and next
Horse's mouth home
Forward to
Makefile variables - defined internally, from the command line and from the environment
Some other Articles
Stepping through a list (or an array) in reverse order
Kings Cross - new concourse - between Python in Cambridge and Objective C in London
A modern area of Cambridge - some thoughts provoked?
Makefile variables - defined internally, from the command line and from the environment
Will will smile?
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
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - 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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