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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10 things that annoy us about hotels # 4 Surly faces at check-in

I’m sure there's a reason for the long face. I’m sorry about your dog, your relationship, your working conditions, that rash that won’t go away, but we’re paying for you to welcome us to your hotel. Whatever your problems are, we might have been travelling for 24hrs to get to the hotel, been trying to follow the poor directions to your hotel for an hour in peak traffic, and lost our baggage, our sense of humour, or perhaps the will to ever travel again. It’s your job to make it all go away by welcoming us to your hotel. With a smile. And that includes actually saying “welcome to the hotel”. It’s not hard, write it on a piece of paper and keep it behind the counter. Don’t like greeting people? Go and work in the kitchen.
A general manager of a large multinational five-star luxury hotel responds:
"There’s simply no excuse for reception staff to not give guests a warm welcome. And I am always sad when I hear from a guest that the check-in process was not a memorable experience and that they were left standing at the counter for a long time. There’s simply no excuse for a poor standard of service, no matter how busy the hotel is. There is never a valid excuse for lack of attention and assistance. Apart from being responsible for the check-in process, the main role of the reception staff is to receive guests – warmly."

Pictured? The reception desk of Qamardeen Hotel in Dubai. This, and its sister property Al Manzil, are two hotels where the welcome is always warm. And with the smile we get a refreshing little welcome drink and a fragrant cold towel. If they can get it right, why can't all hotels?


Anonymous said...

Oooh, good one! It's also bad when you arrive all happy and chipper and the staff brings you down.

Party poopers!

Lara Dunston said...

I know, isn't it awful?!

But, really, as a B&B owner, what do you think? Don't you see reception staff as the face of the hotel? Don't you want them to withhold all negative feelings and always present a sunny face no matter what mood they're in? Let them go out the back and hit a punching bag if they need to but shouldn't they always present a happy face to the guests?

Monna said...

Ack! I am also annoyed by bad service at hotel front desks.

If we are travelling from Barcelona to somewhere in Europe, that means we have been travelling (taxi, airport, flight, trip to hotel) for 5 to 6 hours and I absolutely want the hotel desk clerk to smile and say "Welcome"; I want to feel reassured that they haven't lost our reservation and that everything about our stay is going to be great. I want an auspicious beginning.

At the same time, it occurs to me I have developed lower expectations of service (including that warm welcome) while I have lived in Europe. The enthusiasm with which we are greeted at hotels and pensiones in Europe is, in general, not as great as in Canada, the USA, or Mexico. That makes me wonder why I accept a less warm welcome here.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when the reception staff is on the phone and leaves you waiting or worse if they're in conversation with each other and ignore your arrival. I shouldn't have to announce myself, I'm not royalty!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Monna, we've been in Europe for several months and yep, it was the experience there that prompted us to put this one in.

When we went back to Dubai last week it was AMAZING how much better the reception was at both the new Westin and the Qamardeen Hotel than almost anywhere in Italy, with a couple of notable exceptions.

And Travel Muse, it's even worse when they start answering the damn phone instead of checking you in as quickly as possible. We also had a situation in Italy where there were FIVE people behind the desk NONE of whom could check us out of the hotel. That was an all-time record!

- Susan - said...

So true. First impression counts!

My latest bad experience dates back to June 2005 when I arrived at the Kempinski in Beijing. After a long distance flight we have been parked on the runway for another half hour, having lost a tooth filling and being totally tired, unable to stand longer on my feet, we finally reached the Kempinski around 9 or 10 am where our 'big' company had made the booking - just to hear that the rooms are not ready! We got a voucher for a green tea... (not sure if the booking mentioned early check-in, however in a case like that they need to find a quick solution, eg. upgrade or so. It is not a small hotel.)