I think I am faithful to the hotel and travel industry. Like so many people, I consider myself well-travelled, in South Africa and globally. Both for business and pleasure. My experiences vary from different hotels and various restaurants. I have gathered lot of wonderful memories. The ambience in some of these hotels and décor have always given me comfort and relaxation, especially when I had to prepare before the start of important appointments. In general, I have had wonderful stays at most hotels, which I still cherish today.
My wonderful experiences have translated so much into my liking for the hospitality and travel industry, whereby customer service has become a big deal right from the top senior management to the client-facing staff. Having spent many years working in the public service, I have also accepted the general notion that ‘the public sector should look at the hospitality industry for advice and inspiration on customer service because customer service is the sole heartbeat of the hospitality and tourism industry’.
Hotel chains or groups invest in their own infrastructure and staff to deliver the best customer service. Governments too, should invest in their own infrastructure such as water, electricity and road and transport networks in order to deliver a service to the public.
I believe that many of service delivery protests in South Africa can be avoided, only if the needs of taxpayers and communities can be addressed, at least on time. Most of these problems have something to do with poor operations and maintenance of infrastructure. It is also important to acknowledge that some of these problems are historical and structural in nature, thereby require appropriate resources (funding, skills, and expertise) and political will to resolve.
Although I have many positive things to say about my experiences, I also came across the following shocking experiences, which have prompted me to develop a training course on the Ten Commandments of Exceptional Customer Service:
- Finding a naked woman in my room
- Finding shit on a neatly folded towel
- Hotel staff accusing me of stealing cool drinks in the restaurant – mistaken identity
- Flies in my breakfast
- Finding used tea bags in a dried fruit salad
I have never looked back, but accepted that mistakes do happen. Cleaning staff are mostly overworked and underpaid. They tend to overlook certain things as they are in a hurry to complete all the necessary tasks on time. Client-facing and restaurant staff too, work under pressure and do make mistakes.
We can all learn from own mistakes, however, we need to ensure that such silly mistakes are not repeated as they can impact negatively on customers. Staff consciousness and understanding the psychology of a customer is one of the nuances which do not get taught at hotel schools and training institutions.