As a corporate executive, business owner and traveling from time to time over the globe I have noticed a disturbing trend that continues unabated in many countries of the world.
The Star Rating!
Traveling incognito, formally however more than often informally I have been amazed not to experience what was promised in the brochure or on the web-site and often in fact the experience the opposite – mediocrity.
This has occurred in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, The Middle East, Europe and the United States.
One must ask the question: ‘why is this so’ to quote the late Julius Sumner Miller.
From modest hotels and restaurants to top five star hotels, resorts and establishments I have found that there are some large variations in the star ratings.
1. Misleading adverting materials,
2. Inattentive and disinterested employees,
3. Superficiality – employees appear interested and well groomed on the outside but question them and the veneer of customer care vanishes in the blink of an eye,
4. Unbending petty rules and lack of flexibility by management and employees,
5. Services advertised not provided,
6. Dirty and unclean rooms,
7. A cavalier approach to customer service,
8. Unhelpful employees,
9. Incorrect pricing,
10. Less than attractive food and beverages.
This is not an exhaustive list of the issues facing hotels, resorts and restaurant managers but enough to raise a few eyebrows and concerns.
I have often pondered this conundrum in traveling in and from Australia to other far off destinations arriving weary and often just wanting to check in and rest.
But NO – the expectations are often not meet.
Because I am a practitioner of employee relations, human resources and occupational health and safety with a keen interest in customer service I take particular notice of these events.
However this experience has not been confined to me alone but to other travelers. Often these same travelers will not let you know their concerns, will not complete your suggestion forms however they will spread the good or the bad news to their business associates and friends the bad news as we know travels faster.
Question – Can we place faith in the Star Rating?
From 30 years plus experience I can truthfully say the star rating method is flawed and cannot be relied upon.
This is not just a cultural issue as some of the best establishments I have stayed and dined in are in places you would not normally expect.
The hospitality industry must align itself with client and customer expectations and live up to the glossy brochures and marketing material.
The Common Denominator
The most common denominator seems to be inconsistent customer service. Employees can be well groomed and outwardly look impeccable however once they open their mouths I feel like saying ‘pardon me your attitude is showing – bad attitudes’.
Conversely I have been in establishments where employees have gone out of their way to ensure my colleagues and my stay is a pleasant experience and for this management and employees need to be congratulated and rewarded.
As a businessman and a private citizen who has worked in many strata’s of society it is my conclusion that management must ensure that they deliver what they have promised and this must be reflected in their marketing material or else they are promoting untruthfulness.
Secondly and more importantly employee selection should not be chosen on outward appearance of beauty but the inner beauty and service ethics that comes through consistently.
While recently in Thailand on holidays and business I stayed in a 4 star hotel in Chiang Mai. I received what the brochure and the internet had promised would be experienced as well as finding the employees attentive and service oriented (gang mark). Naturally I now recommend this establishment to others.
Contrast this with a resort in New Zealand that outwardly appeared pleasant however it was dirty and did not live up to its expectations.
In the competitive world of today hotels, resorts and restaurants must deliver what they promise. Secondly they must take care and attention to employee customer service, training and understand the notion of flexibility.
Emotional intelligence over intellect appears to demonstrate a higher basis for assessing attitude and customer service.
Thirdly consistency, consistency, consistency is without a doubt a must.
Your business will often grow or shrink depending on your ability to deliver. People will often overlook minor issues if the customer service is outstanding.
These impressions remain long in the mind of the traveler.
Can we trust the star rating: the answer in my view is NO!
Do you homework before you travel and ask others who have been to the same area you are traveling to for their opinion. It might save you money and grief.
Hoteliers, Resort owners and Restaurants take particular attention to training and ensuring good customer service. You will notice your bottom line profit and reputation increasing.