Customer service from a budget hotel? That’s not really what it’s all about I hear you say. However, I am firmly convinced that customer service is just as important at the ‘no frills’ end of the market as it is at the newly re-opened Savoy. 
Good service must be experienced at all points on the customer journey. It doesn’t matter whether you are booking in at our brand new Holiday Inn Express London – Heathrow T5 or the Dorchester; the important things remain the same. A warm welcome, a friendly smile, an alert receptionist who is trained to look out for problems that perhaps they can solve; these are the key elements of a good check-in.

At the Dorchester, they will certainly also look after your luggage for you; at the Holiday Inn Express London – Heathrow T5 we will explain carefully how to find your room, unless, of course, you are disabled or need practical help. However, if you check in with a flat tyre, need to book a local restaurant, require urgent medical attention, any hotel adopting the principles of good service should be able to provide help, based on good local knowledge.

Our customers are away from home and need our help, no matter how much they are paying for their accommodation. Every hotelier needs to ensure his staff is trained to deliver this type of good service. Good service in a five-star establishment can very often rely upon a butler or an executive floor concierge desk.

In a ‘no frills’ hotel, good service can easily be provided with clearly written information in the room. Hoteliers need to ask themselves - can the guest understand the room without a personal introduction? If the answer is negative you aren’t communicating well with your customers and you aren’t providing good service.

I believe that guests need to understand every element of the room at a glance – air conditioning, TV and internet systems, pillow menus, room service options and safety notices - everything needs to be clear so that the guest can feel secure, welcome and well served. It’s not rocket science, its not expensive; it just requires you to put yourself in the mindset of your client.

Good service also means sorting things out when they go wrong. We need to train our staff to ensure that the customer feels a personal interest is being taken in their grievance. Again, this is nothing to do with star ratings but is everything to do with good service. We all need to be aware of social media sites such as TripAdvisor.

I believe a general manager who believes in good service needs to start the day by checking his /her online presence and taking note of dissatisfied customers and responding to them, however small their gripes.

Above all, the ultimate pay-back for good service is the number of people a satisfied guest will tell about his good experience. Stories of good service at a hotel or indeed any business will travel – if it’s a ‘no frills’ hotel they’ll be even more impressed.

At our Holiday Inn Express London – Heathrow T5 with 300 bedrooms, we are currently recruiting for a dedicated member of staff to make sure we get the entire customer facing experience right first time - A Guest Experience Champion. This is ‘no frills’ putting its money where its mouth is – what are you doing in 2011 in your business?

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