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Are you leaving your guests in the dark…literally?

Last week I had a ‘proud mummy moment’ when I watched my son graduate at Bristol University with a degree in Astro-Physics – don’t ask me what that means exactly but lets put it like this… he won’t be following his mum into hospitality ūüôā

The reason I tell you this is that while in Bristol, I stayed in a beautiful 4 star hotel right in the city centre.  Very little could be faulted.  The receptionist, Lisa gave us one of the best check-in experiences that I have ever had and I felt genuinely welcomed. The breakfast was delicious and the room spacious.  However, my compliments about the room almost have to stop there.

You see, there were a few small but really niggling issues and it brought home to me that we often design our rooms with ‘design’ in mind and not the customer and how they actually want to use our facilities.

The main issue I had with room was the lighting. To say that with all lights on it was almost pitch dark would be an under-statement. There were two bedside lamps that honestly an owl couldn’t have used to read; there was a lamp on the desk that should I have been there to work, would have caused me eye strain and total frustration, and a tall lamp in the corner that threw the tiniest little up-light toward the ceiling. ¬†This may have been mood lighting and perhaps perfect for a certain ‘cosy’ situation but for everything else, it was needlessly frustrating! ¬†Trying to pack at 5am on our day of departure was almost impossible and I had to use the torch on my phone to help. ¬†If I had been there on business, I would have been very frustrated and unable to work or read.

The only mirror in the room was no-where near a plug socket so impossible to dry my hair or use straighteners

The kettle was neatly placed in a cupboard but all the plug sockets were at floor level, so the kettle had to be set on the carpet to boil

So I ask you, when was the last time you actually stayed in your rooms?  This is one of the most useful ways to spend an evening and will throw a whole heap of light (apologies for the light pun!) on how your rooms should actually be used.

Can you turn the TV on from the bed?  I have stayed in a hotel where the TV was so far away from the bed that I had to keep getting up to change channels (first world problem I know, but niggly for your guest)

Is there enough shelf space in the bathroom for two toilet bags and toiletries to sit out?

I recently stayed in a hotel with an ironing board in the wardrobe which was attached to the wall – so you literally had to get into the wardrobe to use it.

Where are your plug sockets?  Your mirrors? Are there curtains on the windows for privacy that still let light in?

Are the towels in the bathroom and not left shaped like a swan on the bed?  Annoying when you step of the shower and have to drip all over the carpet while murdering cotton wild life!

Are there extra pillows? Toiletries left within easy reach?

And then lets go back to breakfast in Bristol… Don’t get me wrong, the food was excellent but as their ‘brand standard’ they didn’t serve tea or coffee to the table. ¬†You had to go and queue at a very fancy machine that gave you the choice of latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate to name but a few but with over 100 bedrooms and a busy breakfast service, can you imagine how frustrating it was to be 20th in line for a coffee when half of the people in front of you didn’t understand how to work the machine? ¬†All the time my breakfast was getting cold and made refills impossible (I am a coffee addict so doubling annoying that I couldn’t wait for my normal 3 cup morning).

So I guess what I am trying to get across is that we all might think we have a great product – snazzy rooms, designed by expensive and well-respected designers but do we actually have space that our guests can use? ¬†My advice is to stay over. ¬†Don’t even just walk the rooms, actually physically stay over and use ¬†your facilities exactly how your guests would – you might be amazed at what you discover.

None of the small things were enough to make me complain but honestly, I won’t be back to this lovely 4 star hotel in Bristol. ¬†I will take my hard earned cash and try someone new. ¬†I am like dozens of your guests that potentially found some ‘niggly’ stuff but wouldn’t complain about it as it was just ‘niggly’. ¬†However as we all know, its the silent ones we have to watch…

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