How could they miss that?!


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I recently spent the night in a budget hotel. It had all the features you might expect such as a clean bed, a decent television, complimentary breakfast, and free WiFi. The room also had a number of housekeeping and cleanliness issues that really detracted from the experience. 

It made me wonder, how could they miss that?

Before I give you a rundown of possible explanations, check out my short video tour that highlights some of the problems in the room. (Click here to view it on YouTube if you don’t see the embedded video.) 

It’s obvious that these housekeeping issues shouldn’t happen, but they did. The real question is why? It’s important to understand the potential root causes of these types of service failures if you want to prevent them.

Here are some possibilities:

  • The housekeeper wasn’t properly trained.
  • The housekeeper doesn’t care about doing a good job.
  • Productivity standards make the housekeeper feel pressured to take shortcuts.
  • The hotel doesn’t have clear standards and SOPs for housekeeping.
  • A supervisor never inspects the room to observe the housekeeper’s performance.
  • Budget constraints are used as an excuse for letting little issues slide.
  • The housekeeper doesn’t feel it’s their job to report maintenance issues.
  • Maintenance waits for housekeepers to report maintenance issues.
  • The supervisor rarely if ever reminds housekeepers about the importance of cleanliness.

Those explanations are all plausible. Here’s one that’s not:

The hotel somehow assigned the only room that had housekeeping and maintenance issues to a customer service consultant who blogs about the root cause of service failures. 

I’m a big believer in the iceberg theory, which means that many other rooms probably had similar issues.

Sadly, the problems I highlighted in the video weren’t the only issues I experienced. My electronic room key didn’t work when I first got to the room, so I had to go back to the front desk after checking in. The television didn’t work either, so I had to call for maintenance. I showed the broken ironing board to the guy who came to fix the television and all he said was that he’d make a note of it. 

Gee, thanks.

Here’s one more explanation that reminds me of my very first post on this blog.

The hotel was in a small town and only had a few competitors. It’s possible that the hotel’s management didn’t feel it was worth their time to invest in luxuries such as removing hair from the bathroom since guests didn’t have many other options.

Whatever the explanation, these small issues could end up hurting business. Here are just a few ways this hotel might see profits take a dive:

  • Negative online reviews. Their online reputation is decent, but there are a number of complaints about cleanliness issues on Trip Advisor. That could be enough to encourage guests to stay somewhere else.
  • Corporate accounts. I was traveling to visit a client and this hotel was my client’s preferred lodging. My client is one of the biggest companies in town and no doubt a major source of revenue for the hotel. Too many complaints from people like me could cause my clients to send people to a competitor.
  • Negative WOM. Having a blog that three or four people read on a semi-regular basis gives me a platform for spreading bad news about a company. I won’t name this particular hotel because doing so wouldn’t fit my personal policy for calling out companies, but what if I did?