Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Coffee - Yes Please

First of all, can we all agree that the majority of guests have now come to expect that there will be an in-room coffee maker in their hotel room, regardless of the brand?

That’s my belief. 

I think guests now associate in-room coffee as just another room amenity, like shampoo and soap.  They assume when they walk in their room that they will find some sort of coffee maker waiting for them, and that, depending on the brand, it may be anything from basic to extravagant, with the simplest of coffees or the addition of potentially elaborate offerings of various teas and other hot drinks.

Unfortunately, I also think the same is true of the coffee provider.  That is to say that there is a wide range of the level of attention or importance, or lack thereof, that this in-room amenity receives from hoteliers depending on whether they see this as an opportunity to elevate the level of guest service and guest loyalty, or, if it is simply viewed as an unnecessary and irritating expense.

This is apparent in many ways, not the least of which is the type and brand of coffees being offered out there in the hotel world.  As a guest, I myself have experienced everything from brown coloured water masquerading as coffee to Starbucks (which I admit to being a fan of).

You can tell a lot about the level of importance placed on the coffee service by the type and condition of the coffee maker and the coffee “caddie” and its contents.

I stayed in a hotel not long ago that offered a simple basic in-room coffee service.  Being the organizational freak that I am, (according to friends and co-workers over the years), I like to prep my coffee before I go to bed, so that I can simply push the “on” button as I stumble by on my way to the shower.  I did so in this instance as well.

When I got up, en route to the shower, I pushed the button as usual, and off I went.  When I returned to the coffee maker about 10 minutes later, there was about a half a cup of coffee in the pot, where there should have been 2 cups.  I checked the reservoir and it was empty.  I carefully pulled out the filter basket to find it filled to the rim with boiling hot water.  Obviously it was clogged or blocked in some way.

I was running behind by now, and I decided I would mention this problem to the concierge on my way out, unfortunately, when I entered the lobby, there were line-ups everywhere, so I left for my meetings, thinking I would call the hotel later, during a break.  The day got away on me, as did the evening, and I never called before returning to the hotel quite late that night.

Before bed, I gave my coffee maker the once over, I couldn’t tell if it had been replaced or not, but obviously the room attendant would have seen what happened and had it fixed or replaced, so I prepped my coffee and slid between the sheets.

Next morning, push button, have shower.  Return to check the state of my much-needed coffee.  Too bad for me, half a cup in the coffee maker, probably another half a cup spilled over onto the counter, and a basket full of boiling water.

Needless to say, I was disappointed, but what was most apparent to me, and the greater source of my disappointment, was that my room attendant obviously saw in-room coffee service as a pain in the rear, and as such was not even slightly concerned that my in-room coffee maker was malfunctioning, which left me to question both the commitment to guest service at this hotel, but also, to question what message had been passed on through the ranks with respect to the importance of providing this guest amenity with a level of commitment and professionalism that mirrored the brand commitments of this hotel.

Bottom line, if you’re going to provide a service, then it should be reflective of your commitment to your guests, and be viewed and treated with a level of commitment from you that demonstrates to your employees that EVERY aspect of a guests’ stay has the potential to create a defining moment and nothing should be left to chance when it comes to creating and providing that which has an impact on your guests experience.

There are no second chances to create a great first impression.

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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