We now run a pretty good sized hospitality operation at Las Catalinas. Over the holidays our sleeping-in-town population maxed out at 210 people! That's getting up there...
From time to time our staff has asked me what sort of things are important to me, as a customer, regarding service in a hospitality and lodging operation. Well, here it is. This is what is I would ask of the staff of any hospitality organization:
- Treat my time with respect. Time is precious, especially when on vacation. I don't want to spend it on "overhead". Make checking in and out quick and painless. I don't want to sit in the reception area and have a welcome cocktail. I mean it is OK to offer, but please don't make it mandatory. I likely want to get to my room or house so I can get to the beach before the sun sets! I sure don't want to stand in line to check out. For that matter I don't want to stand in any line, ever.
- Get to know me, and let me get to know you. You are probably my first and most important link to the local community. I don't want everything to be all submissive "yes sir, no sir". I would love it if you knew my name, and I'd like to know yours (and a nice big nametag might help me). I'd love to be able to have some real conversations with you and hopefully share a few laughs. I want to learn things from you.
- I probably won't ask for that much, but when I do ask for something it is probably important to me and I would like for the answer to be "yes". The importance of this really became clear to me a year ago on a bike trip to a fairly remote part of Chile. We had lots of logistical difficulties. When we asked for help it seemed that the answer was never yes. Ever. Then at the end of the trip we arrived at the extremely wonderful Hotel Antumalal and suddenly the answer to everything was yes! The contrast made an impression on me that I will never forget, and I have never appreciated a fine hotel as much. Thank you, Hotel Antumalal.
- Help me have fun. Make it easy for me to make arrangements and find things that will be right for me. I may want to set a bunch of stuff up ahead of time. I may want to work in out on the fly. If there is a cool event happening, please make sure I know about it. If I am super keen to see some monkeys and there is a family of monkeys in the tree down the street, please come and tell me! You can have a huge impact on how great an experience I have if you will really do a good job helping me on this. And you absolutely better be honest with me. If you send me to some lousy place just because they are giving you a kickback, I will never forgive you.
- Don't be wasteful, and don't spoil me too much. I don't want a fresh towel every time I turn around. I can carry my own bag sometimes. I really don't want to be pampered all that much. I don't want the air conditioning turned down to some frigid temperature when I'm in the tropics. Don't do things on my behalf that I would not feel good about, or that I would not do myself.
- If you do something to make my family feel really special, I will be grateful beyond words.
I think that sums it up. What do you think?
When I ran this past our President, Neal Herman, he said "I wish every guest gave us an advance letter stating what was important to them!" You might want to take that as a hint...
- Charles Brewer
Anna, McHenry, and Zulay. The relationship that my son has with the Las Catalinas staff, and especially Zulay, is just ... beautiful.