DUDS in the Hotel Business

DUDS – or Dumb Unilateral Decisions by managers of big businesses – has a new member.

My wife’s association was holding its annual conference at a local hotel that is part of an international chain and shall remain nameless (hint: rhymes with Ramada). I attended the dinner on Saturday evening where the food was very well done, served buffet style, which allows for second helpings of the desserts, I mean, salads. The chicken and salmon were excellent!

Unfortunately, their service was inconsistent. The restaurant had a limited menu of things that were predominantly basic or breaded or deep fried. One of the servers in the restaurant told her guests that she had never worked as a server before and was helping out. Obviously, she had never been trained as a server, either. This is too bad because the cooks could really dazzle if they had the chance.

The restaurant only accepted cash or cheques! No Visa, Mastercard, or, let’s get really crazy, American Express. (My business accepts all three forms of payment. My brother has been known to accept fresh game and home brew as payment in his business!)

The bartender, I kid you not, said he had never opened a wine bottle before and that he was subbing in for someone else. Well, I couldn’t risk him ruining a perfectly good $28 bottle of something or other with cork bits, and of course the conversation had already used up more than my capacity for charm and patience, so I demonstrated the fine art of opening a wine bottle, and proceeded to tip myself for such a fine demonstration.

I am a member at another hotel where I hold meetings, take clients for lunches and run seminars. They aren’t perfect (nobody is) but they are highly responsive, and that’s the best you can ask for. The servers are trained, the food is consistently good, and they know how to pronounce my name (they get extra points for that). If you want a great experience, I recommend the Hotel Saskatchewan – it’s where the Queen or the Rolling Stones or even Justin Bieber stay. Justin was reportedly practicing on the piano in the lobby last week; my daughters are crushed that they missed him.

When the service is lousy, or the menu is boring, or the people aren’t trained, I blame management.

This is why it is actually easy for privately held, owner-managed businesses to compete and win against the big boys and girls.

So, in your business, I hope no one is complaining about your employees, the service, the menu, the wait times, the responsiveness, the quality, the communication, the pricing, the invoicing or that you don’t accept AmEx.

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Phil Symchych

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