Inside track: hotel owners, put yourself in your guests' shoes – please, asks Wendy Bartlett

28 September 2021 by

When deciding what to write for this column, I always think about what others may be interested in reading. However, please indulge me on this one, as I'd like to use it as a bit of a plea for common sense.

I don't know if it's because I've been travelling a fair bit, or that I'm just getting older, but I'm really struggling to see the sense in some of the changes recently introduced in some hospitality establishments.

I'm conscious I may start sounding like my favourite grumpy old man, Rick Wakeman (who I had the ‘pleasure' of spending time with on two successive weekends in Tallinn a few years ago – long story), but forgive me.

I'm not usually grumpy, but I'm a little cheesed off. I'm a firm believer in doing things right, and not just finding the easy solution. I work on the basis that you should always put yourself in your customer's, guest's or client's shoes. It's a simple approach but can often be forgotten when we are so wrapped up in the madness around us.

This morning I was in a shower in a dark and chic uber-trendy hotel (which basically meant there wasn't enough lighting). I had to get my glasses and turn on the light on on my phone to read which bottle was the shower gel!

The ridiculousness of this scene has, I'm sure, been repeated many times by others. I had already had to sleep with a light on as I couldn't work out how to turn it off. I'm all for tech, but help your guests out for goodness sake! Sometimes a simple guide to the complications of your room is needed.

It continues – the hairdryer was nowhere near a mirror, and I'm assuming the room designer had never put on makeup or had a bag of toiletries, as there was poor light and no shelves for the toiletry bag. I also wondered why the TV remote controls in hotels are now in bags when everything else you touch isn't. Are remote controls more contagious than a glass or bottle opener or air-conditioning remote?

And why is the mini bar empty ‘because of Covid‘? I'm sure no one goes through and deliberately handles every bottle. Even so, it's now proven that it is rare to get the bug from a refrigerated bottle of gin that has been sat there for weeks.

And QR codes – that really is my pet hate at moment. I don't want to read menus on my phone – I spend enough time on that – I want a menu I can handle and mull over, not spend 10 minutes trying get it to download (to be fair the UK isn't as bad as Spain, where people are obsessed with QR codes).

I know I have to put up with people speaking to me with masks on – which means I cannot hear a word they say – but I'm hoping that some of the other Covid madness that doesn't make sense is reviewed and removed forever.

I appreciate that a lot of younger people are now thinking "she is complaining about not seeing and hearing – must be her age", but I don't think this problem is unique to my generation. It's proving to be an annoyance for so many.

We've been locked up for a while, so I appreciate that we can be more forgiving, but we can't lose the essence of what we are about. Hospitality is about giving people an experience they enjoy. A place they go to be happy. They need to be comfortable and feel looked after. None of this is rocket science.

There is enough going on in the world right now to give us plenty to think about and battle against. Let's make sure common sense wins the fight against some of this Covid-induced madness.

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