Mark Jones: Treat guests badly and they won't come back

The view from here

There are fresh flowers and a bowl of little sweets. A nice lady greets you with a smile and a nice man looks after your bags. Don't hesitate to ask if there's anything they can do to make your stay more comfortable, they say. You won't. Because these people are your friends.

Then the bell-hop activates the plastic key card, shows you into the room and the bitter truth hits you. Maybe the hotel doesn't like you so much after all.

Here's how you know. They've given you a dreadful room. You know the hotel is three-quarters empty, but you still end up with the executive fire-escape view, while a bumping from above and a scraping from the side tells you there are: a) neighbours; and b) inadequate sound-proofing. Why? Because the finance and operations people who commissioned the reservations software know it's more economical to have you bunched with the other guests together on the same wing rather than dotted around the place, consuming staff time as they move between rooms.

They're charging for Wi-Fi. The humblest B&B offers it to you free because, well, it doesn't cost them anything. However, lots of business-class hotels know you want to use your laptop, think you're on expenses, and hope you don't care. Show them that you do.

They don't have real coat hangers. That's because they think you might steal them. And indeed you might. But they still shouldn't put you through the hell of trying to get a pair of suit trousers on a wobbly bit of metal that keeps clattering to the ground. (Yes, I am aware this is what's called a "First-World worry".)

They refuse to give you an iron because of the "fire risk". True, I've only encountered this once, in St Moritz, when I went down to dinner looking like a discarded newspaper rather than pay $25 to have my shirt pressed. But even when your five-star accommodation deigns to deliver the iron to your room, it's often a cheap and shoddy contraption.

They insult your intelligence. "Save the planet – re-use your towel," says the card in the loo. If only it were that easy. What it really means is "re-use your towel; it helps us save 7.9 per cent on our laundry bill". I'm thinking of leaving a card in every hotel bathroom that says: "Please provide a full breakdown of your renewable energy programme, toxic chemical policy and five-year recycling record. Then I might not chuck the towel on the floor."

They've hidden the light switches and made the TV to all intents and purposes unworkable. Every hotel should have an ergonomics expert on staff.

They only have Kellogg's and Tropicana on the breakfast buffet. That's because they have signed some macho corporate purchasing deal. Choice is for wimps. And customer service is a phrase you put on the website.

And what of the hotels that do like you? They have free wine-tasting, high-pressure showers, home-made granola, nice toiletries (which they encourage you to take home), late check-out, decent music and concierges who actually know which city they're in.

Some philosophers espouse the theory that altruism is fundamentally based on self-interest. They should be in the hotel business. It's those small acts of kindness that get you saying nice things on TripAdvisor and make you want to come back. It costs eight times more to attract a new customer than to keep a loyal one. What's not to like?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map