Is Your Room Service Up to Scratch? - Servicing People with Disabilities

By Ellen L. Shackelford President, Connections Access Consulting Services, LLC (CACS) | November 01, 2010

When service is an added feature of any venue, patrons expect the advertised services to be available upon request. Once a situation arises, it is expected a rather quick solution will follow. Guests at hotels and motels trust a quality service from employees while they enjoy the comforts therein.

My articles continue to give live situations which adds credibility to the contribution. Sharing these situations with readers may begin to shed some light on how to approach issues with an open mind. Being a person with a disability who has experienced various types of issues resulting from inadequate room service, may bring some insight to how good service can go a long way in customer satisfaction, which leads to repeat business.

When people travel away from home, it is their hope to be as comfortable as possible and when needed be able to receive the best service the hotel can offer. Sometimes it is necessary to go beyond the usual by servicing individual unique needs. Everyone has something they will request during their stay, whether it is a forgotten item, such as, a toiletry item, grooming kit, etc., but sometimes it could be something over-looked in the room initially. Room service is just as it states; if you need something, we will service you to the best of our ability. It doesn't mean once a request has been addressed it stops there, instead it should go far and beyond the call of duty.

Customer service is an essential element of room service; it is what gets counted at the end of a stay and added on the comment cards left in the room on the desk. It's good business practice to assure the service guests receive is exceptional. When people with disabilities travel, it is difficult enough finding a venue which is accommodating and accessible, but when a hotel is located and the individual accepts the accommodations they also want to be assured their service will be what was promised. After the visit to the front desk, the next step is to arrive at a room which was assigned, hoping all the amenities are satisfactory.

When the bellman carries the luggage to the room assigned, they are usually waiting for a tip for the deed they have just done. Once the task has been satisfied by both parties, the next thing asked is, (sometimes) if there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to ask, this is usually the drill you get once it's all said and done. Before a question or a request is asked, the person is out the door awaiting the next guest to assist with baggage. The service should begin at the arrival of the room.

In my travels, I've found difficulties with getting service once my room was assigned and my belongings were in it. I use a wheelchair for mobility and have difficulties reaching for things located on high shelves, or bending for things on the floor. In this particular hotel, I asked the bellman if he could assist me with something before he left the room, but his response was, "I will have housekeeping assist you." It was unclear why he could not help me with what was needed at the time. After the response, my first thought was he was the person who delivers the bags to the room. When he told me to ask if there was anything I needed, it was obviously for the front desk to accomplish. Now I'm wondering if the entire staff has been trained on how to assist patrons with disabilities with accommodations? The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is an eighteen year old civil rights law people still don't acknowledge. It's amazing how people don't understand the simplest things others take for granted are huge issues for people with disabilities.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.