Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Customer delights

All of us have had encounters with the hospitality industry which have left us with a positive impression. This being the Diwali season, I thought why not give you some of our more pleasant hospitality experiences. Something that gets them additional brownie points, some small gesture that makes the users experience so much better. In advertising terms this is called ‘customer delight’

Before delving into the instances, let me make it clear that nothing is `free’. When you book a hotel room and have free breakfast, don’t fool yourself. Your room includes the cost of the breakfast. So when I use the word `free’ read it in that perspective or in the perspective that you are not going to be charged anything more than what you are paying.

Free Internet

Remember the time when hotels used to charge you an arm and a leg to make phone calls. That changed with the advent of mobile phones and soon we punters were laundering money for the mobile phone companies. Hotels lost out. Now times have changed once more. Today many of us absolutely depend on the internet and many of us have at least 2 internet dependent devices a Blackberry and a laptop. Despite this many hotels insist on charging you for using the internet. God knows who runs these dinosaurs. Getting free internet is one of the hospitality industries bigger favours.

Free Water

Getting safe drinking water outside Western Europe is a difficult proposition. Drinking tap water is decidedly chancy. Hotels that give you free bottled drinking water in your room, not a miserly 2 small bottles, but a never ending supply, win our vote for being generous.

More free water

The J W Marriott Resort and Spa Phuket have a series of swimming pools with the obligatory sun loungers. Sun devotees lie on these all day. It’s hot work. The pool attendants give you iced drinking water in plastic glasses thru the day. You do not need to ask, they keep replenishing your glass. What a thoughtful gesture. Just simple iced water on a hot day. No cost, no fuss, no drama but so thoughtful. Mind you they probably lose out on some beer drinking but a very thoughtful move.


At Restaurant Koffman at the Berkeley London, Her Royal Highness the Queen of Kutch orders a post prandial Calvados. Drink is brought to the table with a huge apology. The standard measure is 40 ml. The bottle contained only 35 ml. 5 ml short!! The Barman was cringingly apologetic and said that since it was a short pour he would charge for only half drink. Full marks for honesty.

Customer Relations Management [CRM]

Bistrot Galvin & le Gavaroche London. These guys have computer systems in place much like Dominoes Pizza have in Mumbai. Your phone number is tagged along with your name. So when you call and give them your number they immediately locate you and address you by name. The system also has a record of each visit you have made what you ordered where you were seated and any special notes that the staff may have fed in. This gives the wait staff a huge degree of knowledge and familiarity when dealing with you. Of course of you have thrown a tantrum or got pissed that would be in there too. Great CRM. Or, if you are paranoid this could be seen as an invasion of privacy or stalking. We of course think it’s great not to have to spell out our complicated surnames yet again!

Free breakfast

In today’s day and age Hotels have breakfast laid out anyway. I cannot understand why you cannot book a room with breakfast included automatically across the board. Why do we have to get caught up in this unnecessary charade of going down and signing a voucher/bill for breakfast, juggling with that infernal coffee machine in the room which is never plugged in, has a coiled wire which cannot reach the plug unless uncoiled and, to top it all, never has water in the kettle. Come on hoteliers, we guys need breakfast, the more lavish the better. It’s one of life’s luxuries. None of our wives, husbands or parents can make us as good a breakfast as a hotel breakfast. We are sitting ducks give us breakfast. And get rid of those horrible coffee machines just too complicated to deal with in a strange room in a strange city with a hangover caused by someone else paying for the booze last night. Full marks to a hotel without a kettle and with a lavish free breakfast. 

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