Some Canadian friends recently took us out to lunch and while I have eaten at this particular restaurant before, it was frankly so good in every aspect, I felt duty-bound to post a review on Tripadvisor (TA). Within less than a week TA had advised that my comments had received 458 views worldwide.
It reinforces that social media has transformed the way we do business and that if we are going to grow and improve our tourism product that we have to do a whole lot more to differentiate ourselves above global competition.
Almost in absolute contradiction we placed a small order with a big brand drinks supplier who normally delivers the same day. Later in that day we had a call demanding cash on delivery even though we have held a credit account with this company for 28 years with an impeccable settlement history. Rather than take a few seconds to tap in our company name and see how payment is normally made, it appeared easier to grab the phone and risk alienating a long time loyal customer. Of course, I do not blame the individual, but certainly, management has to take some responsibility.
In tourism, often you do not get a second chance. It has to be as close to perfect the first time round. I graphically recall the first time our small hotel reached #1 out of every Tripadvisor rated hotel on Barbados. The notification came on the morning of one Christmas Day. Naturally we celebrated with the people who made in happen, our guests and friends.
While sites like TA have been maligned in the past by various persons, there frankly is no better measure than by the people embracing the experience and until we really and fully understand that fact, there will always be challenges to maintaining an icon destination reputation.
Again, those of us in management can be a substantial part of the problem.
It was refreshing to read recently that one of our higher end hotels had sent some their employees overseas on a six week attachment to a 5 star resort in the US state of Montana, as part of an ongoing annual programme, allowing them to experience other levels of service.
And as the news article quoted ‘It provided them with a better appreciation of the importance of service delivery standards, the value and effectiveness of team work and being multi-skilled employees’.
We are so often asking our serving staff to provide a level of service that they may not have been personally exposed too, so how could they possibly excel in this area?
I believe Cobblers Cove approach is a win-win scenario for everyone. The hotel itself, their guests and equally important, the individual staff who with additional acquired skills will make themselves more employment marketable.
Of course, it’s not such a practical option during the peak winter season, but maybe an option for many more responsible managers to consider for next year’s softer summer period. Ultimately, we will all benefit.