A G. K. Chesterton "Father Brown" mystery came to mind a couple of days ago while strolling casually through the lobby of a well known local five star hotel.
The story, for those of you familiar with Father Brown, was the one in which a person was killed at home but nobody saw or heard anything while it was happening.
Everybody was baffled, including the police.
Father Brown, however, was not, and deduced that the killer was the postman.
And why didn't anybody think of the postman as the possible killer?
Because, as Father Brown pointed out, to everybody in that neighborhood the postman was an invisible person; a person that had become part of the routine landscape and, therefore, ignored; so much so that he was no longer mind-visible to the locals.
Not that I am planning on committing a five star hotel murder, though it might turn out to be a good future mystery novel, but that kind of invisibility comes to mind when analyzing and evaluating a well-ran hospitality venue.
Is that the kind of invisibility we, the hotel guests, should perceive concerning the people that make our stay in any given hospitality establishment a pleasure? Or at least a pleasant experience?
Should we not "see" or "notice" all the small and large things and actions that go into making our stay an absolute pleasure?
I am sure we would notice right away any small or large thing or action that would cause us dissatisfaction or discomfort; as well as quick to complain about it, as well!
So why should we not notice the former?
What is it about us that we are more prone to notice the bad, rather than the good?
This fact may have more to do with our human nature and “that’s just the way we are,” than with our inability, seemingly, to take notice of what, I suppose, is expected behavior and action.
And yet, it’s the expected behaviors and actions that make the difference between the good and the bad.
I have read and been told that in the hospitality service industry invisibility of staff is what one strives for, for if you do your job efficiently and correctly, without notice (intrusion?), then the guests will be happy.
I am not convinced this is totally true.
In the acting professions, it may be true; but I am not so sure that the same holds true in the hospitality profession.
Yes, management’s job is to take notice of everything concerning the running of the hotel—the good, the bad, and the ugly (please excuse my homage to the Spaghetti Western).
However, it would seem to me that in order to stand out from the competition, one needs to show guests, visibly and blatantly, that their choice of hotel was the right choice, and the only way one can do that is through the actions of all staff members, from the lowest paid to highest paid, as well as atmosphere, tasteful decor, cleanliness, and ambiance, as well as other things, such as food and entertainment.
What makes a place stand out is that special . . . oomph!, if you will, that forces a guest to take notice of all those things that makes one’s stay memorable, enough so that they will volunteer their positive comments to management.
If you have to ask guests how their stay was, or if you have to ask for feedback with the standard “I hope you had a pleasant stay,” then, perhaps, you are not doing as good a job as you should.
Something to think about.
About the Author
Alan Campbell has been in Las Vegas for over 30 years and has worked for the major strip hotels. He has spent some time in California, Los Angeles where he worked for the Radisson and Sheraton hotels. Alan considers the hospitality industry the best job in the world - it is the only place that both king's and Paupers will visit you.