Little things make a difference

Pink toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

I’m back on the theme of hotels and value today. I know I’ve been here before but there are so many lessons any type of business owner can learn that I just have to go back there.

I’ve had a couple of reasons to stay in UK hotels this month and my feelings about the two hotels are very different. What made the difference? Toilet paper! OK so toilet paper wasn’t the only thing but it was significant. Let me tell you why.

One hotel markets itself as a ‘Country House Hotel’ the other was a four star establishment on the edge of town. Both hotels charge a similar amount per night so I feel it is fair to make a direct comparison, starting with the toilet paper! At the Country House, the toilet paper had the feel of a supermarket’s value range whereas the four star offered a thick, high quality loo roll. It’s a small thing but when you are charging top dollar for a product your customers expect to get top quality products and services.

The Country House made us feel we were being ripped off. Yes there was a hospitality tray but there were only two sachets of coffee, two of tea and four little milk pots. My husband prefers tea. Given the option he would have a cup of tea before bed and one in the morning. I, on the other hand, would like a coffee in the evening and tea in the morning. One of us had to compromise and there was no way either of us could have a milky drink. The four star hotel offered a selection of teas, coffees and herbal drinks with plenty of milk. The four star also supplied two individual bottles of water whereas we had to share one at the Country House. The Country House offered a decanter of sherry with two glasses but the sherry hardly covered the bottom of the decanter so gave the impression that there wouldn’t be enough to fill both glasses. Why bother?

The net result is that we felt ripped off by the Country House but felt the four star offered good value. How much would it have cost to supply decent quality toilet paper, a few extra sachets of tea, coffee and milk and another bottle of water? Get rid of the sherry to cover the additional costs. I will be very happy to go back to the four star but I will not be going back to the Country House Hotel.

So the lessons for us all are to make sure that we offer good value for money. That doesn’t mean you have to be cheap but if you charge a higher price make sure that the little things don’t let you down. You want your customers to talk about their experience in a way that will encourage others to buy from you. I will certainly recommend the Spa Hotel at Tunbridge Wells to others but when people asked me how our Country House hotel  in Somerset was I was honest. My honesty was hardly a ringing endorsement and my audience was the hotel’s target market.

There were some other lessons but I’ll keep those for another day…

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