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?

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
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
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss