Now that the travel industry is getting back on its feet, managers of travel companies across the board need to bring back their A game.
Let’s start with general managers of luxury hotels within the United States. Many of these properties were deluged with high-end guests last year during the pandemic because affluent travelers couldn’t leave the country. The same is proving out this year, in fact, premium accommodations are selling out and it’s challenging to get good dates that work for the client at many of the best places.
Yet, we continue to hear about service issues at these places. In one case, a client paying $10,000 a night for a suite was made to sit in the hotel lobby for half a day for unknown reasons as to why they couldn’t access their accommodations. The worst part? The travel advisor could not get anyone to pick up the phone in management when they sought assistance.
Another true case: A client paying a similar amount of money per night had several requests for activities during their stay. The travel advisor could not contact the hotel concierge and so had to call 10 different departments to secure space for dining, spa and water sports.
In another case, a “luxury” hotel recently hosted a live event for the meetings industry and failed to communicate to attendees, and the meetings host, that the only food and beverage outlet opening during the day was at the golf course, which required a 10-minute walk in the hot Arizona sun. Rooms were dirty from the very start and were not cleaned during the course of the event.
The blame for all of the above was put on COVID, yet each of these hotels were pulling in record rack rates.
It’s time this blame game ended and general managers across the United States took ownership of what’s happening at their properties. It all goes back to Hotel School 101. They own these problems and they need to figure out how to manage them. If they are low on staff because of the labor shortage, they need to shore up management below them to deal with guest-facing issues. A good hotelier never lets the guest know what is happening behind the scenes and this is still true in 2021.
Travel advisors in turn need to do their homework as to what is happening at the hotels they’re booking, even if it means looking at Tripadvisor feedback. Check most closely on what’s being reported most recently. As the number of people allowed to stay at many hotels has increased, the ability to serve guests properly has decreased for many properties. Hotel rooms have become tired, mattresses lumpy and carpeting is stained, in some cases. I know it’s still a challenge to get a full workforce back in place and much of this is showing up in guest feedback on the OTA sites. I suspect, however, that some hotels are still using the pandemic as an excuse for lousy service while enjoying high occupancies.
All of this will likely fall back into place as the recovery ensues, but for now, managers of all things travel need to review the basics of their business to ensure their guests who are paying top dollar will get a fair return on their investment.