Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lessons Learned in a Hotel Dining Room

Last October I wrote a lengthy blog about a hotel I love.  Last week I had the chance to remember why.

As I reread my last blog about West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, California, I realized I felt the same way after another stay.  I could tell you about their thoughtful behavior or their warm environment.  I could even mention that they celebrated my child's birthday with balloons and chocolate, but instead I want to tell you about two people who served breakfast.

Let me start by saying I have always wondered why hotels advertise their breakfast as a perk.  Most of the places I have stayed at have a corner where they throw a few muffins and bagels and call it good.  If they have a staff member overseeing the food, they appear harried, frustrated and eager for everyone to go away so they can clean up and go home.

Bertha was different.  During my stay she was a presence in the dining room.  I first noticed her as she moved from table to table asking people how the food was and if she could help in any way.  She cleared tables, picked up spills and kept the trays of food full with an infectious smile on her face.  She made a point of commenting on cute kids and creating conversation as she moved through the room.

While I am sure you are thinking, "Gee, isn't it her job to be nice?" I promise she was more than just doing her job.  Her attitude made the morning a little easier and as a person who does not like mornings, I have to say I looked forward to seeing her each time I ate.

While Bertha was keeping things moving along smoothly one morning, I noticed another man, Carl.  He had stopped at a guest's table and was telling them about local activities they might enjoy.  He spent a good deal of time answering questions, giving details and listening to their feedback.  He had an easy laugh and a contagious excitement for his topic.  I chuckled when I realized he was part of the staff of the hotel and not a paid spokesman for the tourism council.  It was obvious the information he was giving the guests would decide how they spent their day.

As in my last post on the subject, you might wonder why I am bringing this up.  The answer is the same.  As a business owner, I love to see good service.  I love to see employees who have the vision of the company and contribute to its success.  Not many people would consider the breakfast staff to be a vital part of the company image, but they are.  Bertha and Carl made me feel like guests in a home, not customers in a hotel.  Their manner was easy and their smile genuine.

It was obvious other guests were responding to the care in much the same way I was.  So here is my question, if good service, human touches and attention to detail create loyal customers and golden referrals, then why do we not see more companies investing in their employees and instilling this vision?

Thank you Bertha and Carl.  You have reminded me of some valuable lessons, and I thought I was just there to relax on the beach.

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