Good old-fashioned courtesy does work
CÉSAR Ritz coined the expression “the customer is always right” more than a century ago. But are we? If TripAdvisor is anything to go by, we all seem to think so. I wince when I read people venting on the review site or passive-aggressively tweeting their gripes. But I fear it’s in danger of developing into a culture of armfolding and foot-stomping to get what we want, rather than employing a little good old-fashioned courtesy.
We’ve watched the consumeradvice shows; we’ve read the articles promising insider secrets to getting an upgrade or bagging luxury for less. I say press “pause” on that sense of entitlement, put down your dealof-the-day voucher and remember your manners.
Polished service, as well as facilities and furnishings, cost hotels big bucks – so it’s basic economics to understand that we shouldn’t get it all for a steal. It’s interesting to hear from general managers that the people who snap up last-minute cut-rate deals tend to be the most vocal when it comes to complaining.
It would baffle me when my English grandparents were served food as appetising as fresh roadkill, then when asked if all was okay, would reply: “Oh yes, it’s lovely, thank you” (discreetly spitting the inedible items into their napkin). I’m not saying they should have slammed down their cutlery or bellowed to see the manager, but there’s a gracious happy medium that customers can use.
Ondine Cohane is a travel writer and one half of the couple behind La Bandita, a stylish retreat in Tuscany. “Looking for a deal and wanting things for less is all well and good, but I operate from a perspective of paying for what I get,” says the American.
Travel is a social contract as much as an economic one: we pay fair for a nice room, kind staff and good amenities, and the property and the people who work for it should be treated well, too. As Julian Payne, the manager of Blakes in Kensington, central London, puts it, hotels are a “people” business.
“By being personal and hands-on, one can connect better with the guests and understand what their expectations are. Everyone wants to be loved and recognised, and by achieving this, most guests will be happy and return.”
Next time you feel a hotel might have let you down, have a word in someone’s ear; with an added smile and some good cheer, you might find it works out better for everyone.
● Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith hotel guides (mrandmrssmith.com) – The Independent on Sunday
HERE TO HELP: Grabbing a ‘good deal’ may mean missing out on good service.