The hospitality industry is not for the faint-hearted. It is fast-paced, capital intensive, demanding and essentially revolves around catering to the whims of complete strangers.
Keith Attwell, hospitality industry veteran and general manager of Vaalnest Boutique Hotel, situated in Vaal Marina, explains that, occasionally, despite even the best intentions, said strangers respond negatively.
The best laid plans!
Attwell and his team can attest to this as just such a scenario played out recently at their establishment. “Guests from overseas arrived at Vaalnest after lunch one quiet Sunday afternoon and enquired as to what time they could expect dinner to be served. The guests were informed that, as the hotel was essentially vacant that day, the restaurant would only be open until 6pm and they were asked to pre-order their food,” says Attwell.
Accordingly, Vaalnest’s chef, Alfred Mohami, prepared a meal and took his leave 15 minutes prior to the guests arriving. According to Attwell, the guest’s meals were kept hot for this short period of time and a variety of desserts were also made available.
Despite these arrangements, the guests later revealed via a review posted on the Internet that they had been unhappy with the food they were served and the fact that the chef had departed before they arrived at the restaurant.
Turn complaints to your advantage
Instead of being offended by these comments, Attwell took them in his stride and gathered his hotel staff together to discuss the review. He admits that he and his team were initially perturbed by the negative review. However, the team quickly set aside their surprise and were encouraged to share their thoughts and come up with some constructive solutions.
“Simply put, one cannot take such reviews personally as negative comments are part and parcel of working in the hospitality industry. Indeed, such feedback offers us an opportunity to review our systems, improve our offering and dovetail our services more accurately with the needs of our guests,” says Attwell.
Don’t take it personally
“Ultimately, it boils down to listening to what your guests have to say as they reflect market trends and demands. The hospitality industry is constantly evolving and it is important to act on such feedback within reason and where appropriate,” adds Attwell.
In closing, Attwell remarks that although the hospitality industry can be tough, it can be incredibly rewarding too and even though it might not be possible to please everybody all the time, it is important still to try to do so.