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Mid-Range Hotel Execs: Good Customer Service Costs Too Much

November 6, 2006 at 11:51 AM | by | ()

[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven Tim Leffel takes a look at how the hotel industry's bean counters figure out when extra bodies are worth it--and when you're on your own.]

Last week the Wall Street Journal ran an enlightening story on how finance executives decide whether it's worth it or not to have more people on staff for customer service. At Starbucks it pays to have an ample staff (because the most free-spending customers hate waiting). Apparently at Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites hotels, it does not. ""Bellmen they have no use for," Holiday Inn President Mark Snyder says of the people who stay at the midscale chain's hotels. "Why would I invest in bellmen at the doors for people who've already dragged their bags through three airports themselves?"

If you have stayed at a Staybridge Suites, you may have been pleasantly surprised by the free food and drinks at the mid-week "Sundowner Reception." It's not done just to be nice: executives say it takes guests minds off the lack of service. "Housekeeping does a full room cleaning just once a week, and the front desk usually has no more than one or two people staffing it."

During their limited interactions, employees are also supposed to chat it up with guests.

"A lot of our guests really want that personal interaction -- the thing they get from home that they'd like to get from a hotel," says Rob Radomski, the vice president of brand management for Staybridge Suites. "There's conversations between guests and staff about projects they're working on, and their family back home, and the kid, the dog."

So, it's totally cool if housekeeping can't do a full room clean before we check-in, just as long as we can have a nice heart-to-heart about it.

Image via Vladka/Flickr

Related Stories:
· Good customer service costs money; some expenses are worth it, and some aren't [WSJ via Post-Gazette]

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