Are your hotel formalities frustrating your guests?

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For me, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for something to be done by someone who’s paid to do it, when you could do it yourself quite easily, and possibly more efficiently.

Take for example the Burj Al Arab, the seven-star hotel in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, with its 1000-strong army of staff there to wait on your every whim.

I found the hotel’s extravagant approach to luxury novel, but nonsensical. It seems the Burj, like so many ‘deluxe’ hotels, translates personalised service as having at least one person interfering with your every move.

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Checking in and out is a necessity, it’s like paying for your shopping — it should be quick, problem free and pleasant.

The Burj’s in-room check-out-process was full of pleasantries, including one phone call to request check out and a second 15 minutes later to chase check-out. A different member of staff finally arrived to check me out, taking payment and returning with the wrong receipt. The process cost 30 minutes, on top of the bill.

So it was refreshing to meet the two Pauls behind Amsterdam-based ‘budget boutique’ brand Qbic Hotels, and hear about their “logical” approach to luxury that costs far less.

It involves empowering people — guests and employees. Guests have the option to check themselves in and out using dedicated kiosks; you only have to look at the popularity of self service compared to over-the-counter at your local supermarket to see that people like to do it themselves.

If you want a coffee, there’s no middle man there to complicate things, just help yourself from the quality and complimentary coffee machines using locally-sourced beans.

By cutting out the menial tasks, you lose the need for mass manpower and instead can invest in your few full-timers – training them to do much more than follow frustrating procedures, as Qbic’s Paul Rinkens says — you can hire chimps for that.

So if — like Qbic — you’re mostly targeting generations X and Y (those aged 19-47), you’re dealing with generation DIY. We all grew up with B&Q.

At least give guests the option to do simple tasks themselves. After all, what could be more luxurious than the freedom to do what you please, when you please, with help — if you please?

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