When I walked into a renowned car brand showroom, I walked in with a lot of expectations. I wanted to buy a car, a hatchback. Now after reading the online reviews and the buzz created by marketing pundits, I was pretty sure I wanted this piece of metal. It was nothing like India had ever seen and to top it, it was clearly one of the best global brands. I walked into the showroom with no second thoughts and I set my gaze on it. I could just not shift my eyes off the beauty, as the sales guy went on with the jargon.
However, my love story had an abrupt ending. The delivery period was 3 months. To add to the misery, I waited for a test drive for over a week, but in vain! I did a little more research, only to dig-out the sorry after-sales service. More than 80% people when investing in a product or service, back off because of the wrong picture painted by the media/company. In case of a hotel, it can get even worse. When a certain Mr. Jain books his room based on reviews, pictures and information available, he walks into the property with a certain amount of expectation. He already has a clean picture of what to and what not to expect. Through the website of the hotel, he’s made a opinion about the place. Secondly he goes through some of the reviews that only makes the case stronger. Now he’s more than sure that the property is worth a visit. However, on arrival he sees that the hotel does not look remotely similar to what he had previously seen; he’s already on the back foot. The towel not in place, used bed sheets and the awful food just keeps adding to his woes. Dumbfounded might be an understatement in his case! He checks out, rather disappointed. The bad word-of-mouth spreads faster than any viral marketing planned or executed.
When a guest walks into any property today, there is every chance that he must have already done his homework. He walks in with ‘expectation’. Expectation that’s created by marketing buffs to keep rooms booked throughout. This expectation can be managed and interpreted in both ways.
From a Guest’s perspective: Don’t always go with the reviews
Because good is a subjective term. What might be good for Mr. Jain might not work out in your favour. For e.g., when visiting Resort X, at Munnar, Mr. Srinivasan loved the ambience and the food. (He forgot to mention he was a vegetarian and food was very similar to what he finds at home. Of course, needless to mention, he does not prefer to eat out of restaurants, and the simple spice-less dishes at the resort was greatly appreciated by him.) On the other hand, Mr. Singh was furious to know that it’s a ‘Veg-Only’ resort! To top it, of course, the food was too bland for his taste. !
From a Hotel’s perspective: Don’t project what you don’t have.
Because it’s better to under commit and deliver more. It’s a normal human tendency to form opinions based on media. If the website shows a private jacuzzi in all the rooms and provides you with an Indian toilet in the end, then yes you certainly have reason to be offended. A hotel can choose any form of media to advertise but, since it is a service based industry, you just can’t go bragging and deliver nothing. If Mr. Dey saw an infinity pool overlooking the sea in the website, he would want to be in the exact same spot, just like the picture. Similarly, if the hotel’s expertise lies in Indian cuisine, then they should concentrate on the same instead of claiming of having a continental joint!
Satisfying an expectation is the single most important piece of service that every service brand should be aiming for. I say – create the right expectation and surprise by delivering more than promised. A goodwill earned goes a long, long way in tailoring the right brand outfit of any property any brand.