I just got back from NYC where I attended a meeting in what used to be the jewel of boutique hotels–The W at Times Square. Judging from what I observed, and some of the complaints I heard from those who were staying there, the W Brand is on the decline. How would you like to spend over $400 a night and stay in a room where the vents haven’t been cleaned since the NY Yankees last won the World Series? Photos taken by one guest of unidentifiable bugs crawling in their room and room service carts parked outside their door, filled with half eaten meals, are evidence of a hotel on the decline. Throw in what appears to be dirty welcome mats in the elevators and all bets are off.
I used to come to the W because of their brand. I loved the hip vibe you felt the moment you walked into any W hotel. But I think the W has taken this hipness thing to a level that makes it no longer welcoming. Here’s what I mean by this. My colleagues and I were having a conversation over drinks in the area of the lobby that is referred to as The Living Room. A hotel employee politely asked if we would kindly move to a different area, as a group had reserved this couch. Who knew you could reserve a couch? We looked around only to find that the other empty couches had reserved signs on them. We took the hint and left.
The W has left the door wide open for other boutique hotel brands to knock them off their perch. Rising hotel brands like Kimpton hotels are making a name for themselves and aren’t sacrificing quality to do so. Kimpton realizes that cleanliness is hip. So is welcoming guests to hang in your lobby without making a reservation. Of course this is just the observation of one guest, but one guest can have a powerful voice thanks to websites like TripAdvisor. Here’s what you can do to prevent your brand from decline.
Look at Your Business With a Fresh Eye-I know when I return to my home after time away that I notice things I haven’t seen before. Having someone shop your business is a great way to get the feedback you need to keep things on track.
Eliminate Stupid Policies-Reserving space in a common area of the hotel makes no sense. What stupid policies exist in your organization? Ask your employees this question and while you are at it, remember to ask your guests. Then take action and change these policies.
Hire people Who Care-Some people have more attention to detail than others. Determine if the people you have hired have the traits required to get the job done in a way that is acceptable. If they don’t, send them packing.
When it comes to the business of service, the only thing that really matters is your reputation. What’s the one thing you will do today to keep your brand from going downhill?