On The Floor

A Tale of Two Cities

Klaus M. Blache | December 1, 2019

The first indication of a rough hotel stay was a poorly maintained door lock.

Q: Are R&M best practices equally applicable to consumer and manufacturing industries?

A: The short answer is that most,  if not all, practices are equally relevant to all types of industries.

Recently, I had two weeks of business in two cities about an hour apart. I stayed in the same well-known hotel chain in both places. The two hotels were in upscale areas and had about the same high ratings, so I was able to make a rather direct comparison.

The hotel stay during the first week was very uneventful—staff was friendly, food was good/fresh, and the overall experience what I expected. The only issue I could identify is that the luggage-cart’s tire needed air.

At the second hotel, I expected the same good experience. It didn’t happen. When I checked in, I agreed to go to the top floor where it was quieter. The clerk indicated an outside door to my room was located nearest the parking lot, if I was OK using the stairs. Though I had lots of luggage, I opted for the short route. The short distance became moot because the entry card didn’t work. I returned to the front desk to report the issue and the clerk’s reply was, “Oh yeah! That door’s been acting up. I’ve meant to get it fixed.” My reply was, “But you put me in a room furthest from the lobby with a known door issue.” I ended up using a luggage cart and took the very long way, which now was furthest from the lobby.

The next issue was a broken television. The maintenance worker and I had a long discussion as he made a lot of trial-and-error attempts and eventually got it to work. He never did determine the problem.

The next day, when I entered the room after a long day of training, I was greeted by a maintenance cart and parts and tools on the kitchen table. Ten minutes later a maintenance employee knocked on the door (after trying to get in) and stated that he was asked to fix a leak under my sink. He said that he was changing the garbage disposal because water from the dishwasher exits the same pipe, causing the leakage. He had put a room trash basket under the leak and said that he would come back in 30 minutes after the dishwasher stopped (housekeeping had started the dishwasher).

He returned, as he’d indicated, and finished the job. He didn’t, however, show any concern about cleaning up after the numberous dirty parts and tools that were on the kitchen table.

When I entered my room at the end of the third day, half of the kitchen floor was covered in water. Housekeeping staff was nearby and they soaked up the water with towels. Obviously, the maintenance fix was not the correct one.

On the third and fourth days, I observed and heard housekeeping employees yelling at each other about work issues. They were not just speaking loudly; they were literally yelling.

The third day, I’d left the room very early to get to a distant meeting. I was getting a coffee to go with two other hotel guests. The person setting up breakfast was behind in her work and constantly complaining aloud. The complaints were basically, “This [expletive] thing doesn’t work right!” and, “I’m having problems with this equipment!”

The fourth day was essentially the same breakfast experience. In addition, the oatmeal that I was going to eat was not done and very soupy. I pointed it out nicely and suggested more oat flakes be added. She blamed it on the slow-heating equipment, but I watched her add more oat flakes about 15 minutes later as I was leaving.

One guest wanted to borrow a container. The employee found one in storage, although it had some dried food on it. She went back to clean it as she stated, “They don’t clean the dishes very good here.”

When I checked out, I was asked if my stay was okay. I said not really, and that there were issues on each day. The desk person replied that the manager had been working on fixing many issues. My thought was, if my experience was after some improvements, things must have been rather grim. There are lots of issues/lessons to be learned from my second hotel stay that can apply to any organization. Go back through the article and underline them. There are at least 11.

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Klaus M. Blache

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