Even just thirty years ago, hotels often promoted colour TVs in their rooms as a value added compared with black and white, which was still the most commonly used.
Many things have changed since then; a TV can additionally provide information on the hotel and the city, updates of the customer’s account, wake-up calls, pay-TV movies, and much more.
Customer service, however, must be the cornerstone of everything.
I was in a nice hotel on the lake, and the TV only showed the first and second RAI channels, Canale 5 and four international channels. I asked the manager why it was so, and his reply – an attempt at humour – was: “This is a beautiful location, enjoy the landscape! Next year, anyway, we are going to have many channels”. Unfortunately I was staying there right then; if he had told me, I would have chosen the next year.
I was in a hotel belonging to the Leading Hotels of the World. Before taking a shower, I tried to switch on the TV, but it gave no signs of life, in spite of my insistence. Then I decided to call the service line, but, apart from making funny noises, the phone did not work. I could not go down to the reception because I was in my bathrobe, so I called the hotel from my cell phone and explained the situation.
A kind phone operator offered apologies and informed me that she would immediately send somebody in. No sooner said than done, a couple of minutes later a man came and established what I had already found out: there was nothing to do about the telephone. Never mind, I was not expecting any calls, but I asked him to please take care of the TV, because it helps me go back to sleep when I wake up in the night.
Nothing could be done about the TV, either. I then asked him to replace it, and he said that it was not possible, because each set is specific to a certain room.
Having to leave for dinner, I asked him to please come back at 8 p.m. and solve the problem. “Don’t worry!” he said. In fact, that statement should have made me worry!
As I went back to the hotel at midnight, I found that the TV was not working, and no note had been left to inform me in this regard (had he come back to check, or not? Who knows?).
A TV is not a piece of decoration: it has to provide a service, but hotels very often forget this, except to count the revenues in terms of pay-tv movie sakes.
It is essential to recover the basic features of TV; it may sound trivial, but enabling customers to simply watch TV programmes, whether good or bad, in an orderly way, often seems to be a tremendous undertaking.
In the case of the broken-down TV I just described, it would not have been overly costly to use a spare set which, even if not allowing for the full range of services, would have certainly been better than nothing, and would have testified to the hotel’s good will and customer orientation.
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