December 8, 2011

Enough with Not Enough

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Friends and colleagues may disagree, but I don't think I am a particular high maintenance traveler.  When you do it 80-100 days a year, I'm not sure you can stay sane of you are.

That being said, I've had a strong of hotel experiences recently that have led me to "have enough with not enough."  And while I'm certainly not turning this into a travel blog (see this recent post) I thought I'd share them with you.

Not enough light

Hey, I'm probably more eco-conscious than most, and my entire home is equipped with CFL or LED lights that are turned off the minute I leave a room.  But as hotels have converted to more energy-efficient bulbs and more stylish lighting fixtures, they seem to have forgotten an important lesson:  people need to be able to actually see … and read, and write.

My female friends often lament the lack of light in hotel bathrooms, but I'm finding that upgraded mirrors with the lights running around all four sides are a nice improvement.  Lighting in the rest of the room is another story.  Bulbs in fixtures where reading will occur should be bright, either of a higher wattage or a 3-way or dimmable CFL (yes, they have them).

Not enough hooks

Based on the almost complete absence of hooks in most hotel bathrooms, I can only assume that the property's designers are nudists who have no need to hang clothing or wet workout gear.  The norm seems to be one hook, maybe with two pointy prongs protruding from it, ones sharp enough to leave permanent marking in any clothing you hang there.   If I come back from the gym, I at minimum have wet workout shorts, shirt, undergarment, and headband.  Four items.  So one or two on the hook.  One or two on the door handle (yuk).  And maybe one over the shower rod where my eco-conscious conscience had hung a towel to dry.  And what if I'm sharing the room?  Double trouble.  Dear hotels:  hooks.  Lots of them.  Try a minimum of 4-6.

Not enough healthy options

Too many room service menus still feature too many fatty foods in oversized portions.  The Andaz properties in NYC have the right idea as almost the entire menu is "build your own" whether it be salads, sandwiches, or the complete meal.  Ingredients and options are listed and you just select the combination that works for you.   More hotels should do the same.

Not enough comfort and warmth

Hotels are lacking this in both tangible and intangible ways.  I'm a minimalist at heart but some of the stark decor and geometric furniture (see this chair from a remodeled room at the Hyatt Regency Chicago)  is just plain cold and uncomfortable.  So much of the entire travel experience is already that way.  A winning hotel would offer the comfort and warmth a weary road warrior is seeking.  That requires rethinking room decor AND employee hospitality.  Too many desk agents could easily be confused for robo-callers in terms of htheir tone and conversation with guests.  I recently stayed at the always wonderful Sundance Resort in Utah where every single employee was warm, welcoming, and genuine.  It's sad that encountering that was such a shock to my system.

I used to say not enough electrical outlets, but that seems to be vastly improved although your mileage may vary.

And while all of my examples have come from hotels, the principle of basic functionality applies to every business, every organization, every product or service.  You have to review what you are creating through the lenses of the end users (who may be very different than you) and test the functionality of your efforts based on what they are going to want to do.  Are you testing your own products and services enough?

What else have you had enough of there not being enough of during your travels?

3 comments:

kevin said...

good morning, jeff! love today's thoughts and think they're quite on the money.

i had one thought while i was reading away. these suggestions would all make for a great brief for any guest room in someone's home.

my partner and i pride ourselves in thinking about the experience that a guest is going to have when they stay in our own home. are they going to be comfortable and feel at home? have room to spread out and unpack? space in the drawers? space and hangers in the closet? wood hangers of course and never wire! fresh linens? comfy pillows and mattress? an extra blanket if needed? a bedside table with a good reading lamp? on both sides of the bed if there are two people staying in the room! electric outlet access? even an alarm clock or an ipod deck?

i think it's ridiculous that a service business wouldn't think through these questions and more, but it kills me when we visit friends and families, and they don't even take the time to cover the basics in their own guest rooms. we are GUESTS after all!

am i crazy with too many standards and expectations? or is it just that cursed empathy gene that i've learned to use in most every way in my life?

regardless...happy travels to you! whether in hotel or home!

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Kevin: We're obviously birds of feather because one of the first things I did when moving into my new home was to stay in the guest room a night or two to make sure it would have everything a visitor might want.

And should you need slippers? Extra pairs are on the bottom shelf in the guest closet.

David M. Patt, CAE said...

Hey, Jeffrey, an association once put me up in a bed and breakfast that had no electrical sockets in the bathroom. I had to charge my electric shaver the night before in a socket in the room so it would be ready to use in the morning.

Requiring hotel staff to actually occupy rooms for a night is a good idea. I think, though, they don't expect us to do much in the room but sleep and shower, so they really don't care about our comfort.