Tag Archives: customerexperience

Who needs a concierge?

In our internet driven and social media obsessed world we can access numerous review sites, read travel blogs, get directions instantaneously and ask friends for recommendations at the click of a button (or face to face if we are feeling old school). With this in mind, I have been questioning the need for a hotel concierge. I mean, what can they tell me that Google can’t?! Especially if they look like miserable, tired, ‘bored with life’ type people wearing uncomfortable hotel uniform…and start to awkwardly twitch as you approach them with a simple question.

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Yes I’ve experienced concierges like this many times over the past few months, one at a hotel in New York in the summer who even went to print something for me from the back room and never came back..!

Surely hotel owners should be looking for other cost effective ways to help travellers find what they need – internet kiosks in reception or no strings attached free WiFi for example which is increasingly a guest expectation rather than a ‘nice to have.’

That’s what I thought until staying at The Shore Club hotel in Miami. Half reluctantly being led by my hubby over to the concierge desk on our first day we were greeted by Reo, a friendly looking guy in his late 30s wearing a loose fitting, bright coloured shirt. He welcomed us over with a huge smile, shook our hands and immediately complimented my engagement ring. Yes one could argue this was maybe a touch on the ‘false’ side, but I didn’t care. I’m on holiday and this guy was making an effort to make us, as guests of the hotel, feel welcomed and a little bit special.

We got talking about all of the things we could do during our stay in Florida and it became clear quite quickly that he knew his stuff, telling us the best bars to go to, the best Keys to visit, the best restaurants to eat in on each Key and the best day of the week and time of day to go. He was talking from experience, giving us little anecdotes from his own personal adventures. He was passionate and clearly loved his job. Every other guest who walked past gave him a wave. He asked how the things he’d recommended they do had panned out, remembering each person and exactly where they had been without taking any focus away from us. He spoke to us about how he ended up in Miami, having lived in the Caribbean, South America, LA, Australia and London. He randomly switched to the most impressive South London accent I have ever heard an American do which could have fooled even a Londoner into thinking he was from Streatham. He printed stuff out for us from the room behind him whilst still talking to us, rather than doing a disappearing act.

All in all, Reo was amazing and completely changed my view of hotel concierges. We even became the people giving him a little wave the next day as we came back from our trip to the Keys and he couldn’t wait to ask us about it. As we hopped into our car yesterday he bounced over to see us off, asking where we were heading for the day, genuinely caring about us making the most of our trip, telling us ‘I’m here for you if you need anything.’

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Reo clearly injects his personality into every interaction he has with each guest of the Shore Club hotel, wholeheartedly caring about each individual having the best holiday possible with nothing being too much trouble. But above anything, he has a twinkle in his eye and loves what he does. It’s not so much about what he is recommending guests do, but the way in which he recommends it.

This is absolutely when hotel concierges are worthwhile – when they not only tell you about the experiences you can have, but become part of the holiday experience itself. Anyone can simply look up an address and send something to the printer. Hotels should be looking to only employ a concierge who can naturally do more than this…an individual who is passionate about travel and people…an individual who doesn’t just follow the hotel brand guidelines but someone who does their own thing to make every guest have the best trip they can possibly have.

Larry David’s take on the travel customer experience

I am a massive fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm. While some may find him irritating, I can’t help but think that Larry David’s experiences in hotels, restaurants and on aeroplanes beautifully capture some of the anxieties and inconsistencies we endure as customers of travel.

If, like me, you think Larry David hits the nail on the head, take a look at some of my favourite LD clips here:

Larry David on tipping a bellboy

Does a thorough tour of the room really deserve a $20 tip or is it an unnecessary waste of time?

Larry David on sticking to your cabin
The unwritten rules around sticking solely to toilet usage in your own cabin.

Larry David on how the chosen attire of other passengers can affect the in flight experience
How the hairy legs of the guy next to you can be a rather unpleasant distraction on board!

Larry David on sample abusers
How far is too far when it comes to ice cream samples?

Bonjour Edinburgh

I am currently in Edinburgh for a ‘city break’ long weekend with the hubby. We knew before we made the last minute booking a week or so ago that it was set to be a busy weekend with France playing Scotland in the 6 Nations rugby. However I don’t think we quite anticipated how busy it would actually be and moreover how FRENCH it would actually be…

Pulling up at the hotel the first thing I noticed was a French market and creperie stand:

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I got quite excited about this as I do love anything French – especially if it’s food related.

When checking into the hotel I heard an excitable buzz of French accents surrounding us and noticed lots of signage up in French. For a split second I questioned whether we might have somehow mistakenly flown to Paris rather than Bonnie Scotland.

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My confusion didn’t stop there. When venturing out into the city centre and the Golden Mile ALL we could hear were French voices and ALL we could see were swarms of berets and French flags. Trying to get into a pub for a drink and bite to eat was an absolute impossibility with every inch being taken up by boisterous French rugby fans.

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Eventually we managed to get a table in an American style diner – not the quirky pub we’d hoped for but at this point we were willing to take anything. However, even in here we seemed to be the only non-French tourists, so much so that the waiter was genuinely surprised to be serving two non Frenchies (and also possibly slightly relieved) with loud chants of ‘Allez les bleus’ erupting around the room.

After lunch we decided to go to the Scotch Whisky Experience for some Whisky tasting thinking it would be rude not to after hearing somewhere that Scotland is the only place in the world where Whisky outsells Coca Cola…or maybe that’s Irn Bru?! Either way, whilst queuing for a ticket, again we seemed to be the only non-French tourists in here, noticing that there were special deals for the tour aimed just at the French:

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When reaching the front of the queue, we were pretty shocked to be told by the assistant that the whole tour would in fact be conducted in French and, if we needed to, we could listen to it in English via a special headset…!? This didn’t particularly bother us as I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice my French… It was just rather fascinating – the extent to which a tourist attraction had re-adapted itself for it’s clientele on this particular weekend:

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We really enjoyed the tour and the opportunity to taste and learn about different types of Whisky, despite the bizarreness of it not being conducted in English, in the UK…! If anything I think it added a little bit more amusement to the whole experience…well for us anyway as there did happen to be one other rather disgruntled looking British couple who seemed a little lost among the sea of ‘Ooo la las’.

The rugby match took place last night and saw the French win in the last 5 minutes. Even today there are still swarms of French tourists in and around the city clearly enjoying a long weekend. Edinburgh certainly is a beautiful place and a great destination for a short city break – even if it does feel more like we are in France right now. Perhaps tomorrow once all the rugby fans have departed we might get more of an authentic Scottish experience?!

One thing’s for sure – Scotland may have lost out on winning the rugby match, but they’ve certainly scored lots of points and earned heaps from tourism by pushing out all the stops to cater to a specific target market this weekend!