By Frank Kenna
I stay in a fair number of hotels in my business travels and view them a bit differently from most guests. Since my company publishes a workplace communications program for the hospitality industry, I’m always thinking about what subjects I can contribute to our editorial department based on my personal experiences. Often these start out as personal gripes, i.e., things that can be improved. So in the spirit of constructive criticism, here we go:
Most of those suggestion have to do with the “back of the house” details, that is, the part most guests don’t see: where the employees work, how the management functions behind the scenes, the break rooms & laundry, etc. But today, as I sit in a Pennsylvania hotel waiting to get on the road to see some customers, I’m thinking about my experiences as a guest and have put together my top 10 list of items I’d like hotel managers to consider. Most have to do with perceptions and guest experiences, therefore customer service. Since this is a pretty long blog, I’m dividing it into two parts, the first 5 today and the rest tomorrow.
#1. More electrical outlets
At almost every hotel I stay at, there is a scarcity of outlets. In fact, as part of my standard travel kit, I carry a mini 3-way outlet so I can plug in my computer, Bluetooth earpiece and iPhone. And if I’m travelling with my wife who has her own equipment, it gets ridiculous. I can understand older hotels not having enough, but any hotel built in the last 15 years should have 3-4 outlets available. And they should be on the counter or desk top, not behind the bed. I’m writing this blog in a room at one of the top 5 hotel chains that caters to business travelers, and there’s only one plug in the lamp base. Unacceptable!
#2. Fewer pillows
I know, I know. How tough do I have it when I’m complaining about having too many pillows on my bed? But still… I recently checked in to a room where I could hardly find the bed. There were five regular pillows, three big square pillows, a giant column shaped thing and a two frilly ones on a nearby chair. Had I brought my harem, this might have worked out great, but I just wanted to lie down after a long day on the road. Where am I supposed to put all those things? What focus group recommended 8 pillows on the bed?
#3. Fix the broken stuff
Most rooms these days have a heater/air conditioner unit built into the wall of each room. I find about 25% of the time there’s a loose part, or the bearings in the fan are noisy, or the thermostat doesn’t work. The hotel I’m in now is a prime example. I checked in, walked into my first room and turned on the heater and got this death-rattle sound coming out. So back I went to the front desk to switch rooms to the one I’m now in. This was completely unnecessary; I doubt the heater just started doing this before I walked in. This isn’t my only gripe about broken stuff in hotel rooms.
In the last year I’ve had a room with a noisy heater at least 3 times, a bathroom with a broken soap dish, a couple of showers with clogged drains (gross!), a windowsill with a little pile of dirt in the corner (how did that happen?), a couple of burned out light bulbs… you get the picture. These are ALL things that the housekeeper must have seen but ignored. My plea to housekeepers: please imagine yourself in the shoes of the guest; look at each room through his eyes.
#4. The clock
Can you buy ones that have more than a 16” electric cord so I can move them around a bit? They always face towards the middle of the room. But I don’t sleep in the middle of the room; I usually sleep in the bed, so I need to move the clock to where I can see it. But sometimes that cord is so short, I can barely move it. And while I’m on the subject, can you please buy clocks with a simple alarm? I love technology, but a dozen buttons and switches does not equal good design. Plus, I don’t want to spend 15 minutes figuring it out. I want it to be simple, to work, and be visible, period.
#5. Better Lighting
I’d say about a third of the rooms I stay in don’t have enough light. Sometimes there just 2 or 3 lamps with 60 watt bulbs. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to have low lighting, but it should be my choice, not the hotel’s. And in the bathrooms – how about a nightlight? On more than one occasion I’ve stumbled around in the darkness not remembering the layout of yet–another hotel room.
That’s it for today. Check back tomorrow for the final 5. And if you have any additional ones I didn’t think of, leave a comment. Your comment may become be a great idea for one of our future pieces!