Hotel Sunshine, each time I think of the hotel, my mind runs quickly to the picturesque lush green carpet of tea that Kericho County is known for. This week the hotel has been in the news not for the very rosy of reasons, after a mheshimiwa withdrew her booking following what she termed as embarrassment and violation of her constitutional right.
As it’s known, bad news spreads like wildfire. No sooner did the legislator share her predicament of discriminately having to produce her marriage certificate, than another woman rep was quick to recount her nasty experience of two years ago. It is reported that the proof of marriage was not asked upon booking, but the hotel demanded of it later in the evening when the couple came back to retire for the evening after dinner outside the hotel.
As an outsider hearing this for the first time, you will be marred with derision which is a PR disaster for the hotel. Below are some pointers to manage customers better and have them sing praises of you, years after serving them.
- Consistency is key
In the case of Hotel Sunshine, it seemed the receptionist or the booking officer did not request the marriage certificate of the mheshimiwa and the husband upon registration. This could have slipped inadvertently or it could be he /she chose to overlook this because of the calibre of guests he was dealing with. Whichever the case, this was forgotten and it doesn’t in anyway affect the hotel’s running operationally. Going against the grain and asking a mheshimiwa of their marriage certificate at 9pm and they already checked in hours earlier is a branding disaster. Rules and regulations are there to be adhered to however, it’s the fault of booking officer not to have asked this earlier. Perhaps it could have prompted the guests to seek accommodation elsewhere in good time and all would have been well should this have been demanded earlier.
Therefore, it is imperative that the staff involved remain consistent and politely ask for the proof of marriage to all and sundry if these are the rules of the hotel. Overlooking then asking of it again would make anyone smell a rat of your intentions.
- Customer is King or Queen
They say customer is king and you cannot dare irritate them at a time of day when fatigue is at its peak. All someone cares about past 9pm is hitting the bed for well-deserved sound sleep. Treating the customer as the king or queen they deserve, you are enhancing your brand image. The customer can tweet about their experience all to your benefit. Who doesn’t mind a mheshimiwa endorsing their brand for free?
- Apologise unabating but don’t irk the customer
Immediately you realise that your action has irritated the customer, apologise immediately with utmost sincerity. Have the manager take the bullet for the team. Ensure by the time you part ways with the customer, you have won their heart. Failure to do this will agonise them and any opportunity they have to vent, they will spew disgust and worse off, this will be to your utmost detriment if it happens in front of the cameras. Sadly, it bleeds it leads, so your hotel will go viral for the wrong reasons.
- Don’t remain taciturn
With your dirty linen in public, do a press release, call a presser explaining the unfortunate turn out of events. Apologise with utmost sincerity. Remember you will still need customers to flow in and spend the night as they visit the spectacular tea landscape. Being unforthcoming would just rubberstamp your improper handling of customers.
- First impressions are lasting impressions
There are quite a number of potential customers who watched the clip of the mheshimiwa complaining and with nothing forthcoming from the hotel, this version will remain etched in their minds. Do you really want this to be the picture whenever they visit Kericho town? Sadly it will be. In case you are targeting customers beyond Kenya, under tea tourism, firstly they will definitely Google about you and with such stories coming up, you will be off their options.
Lets engage in the comments section. What more tips can you think of?