Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Why not make Lemonade out of Lemons?

The enormously successful Innkeeping Conference finished last Thursday evening, but for The B&B Team, it finished Saturday evening after an extra day of meetings and a great night on the town in Austin. Sunday morning rose beautifully in the Hill Country of Texas and all seemed right for our trip home.  Well, not so fast….the East Coast was being pummeled by storms of incredible proportion and we discovered that flights had been canceled Saturday and delays were expected Sunday.

To make a long story short (and avoid a rant!) that's where the problems began.  I can't find fault with the airlines over weather, but when they do not act in a proactive and informational manner and then put hundreds of stranded passengers in the hands of un-empowered and insufficiently trained employees, customer service and hospitality get a black eye …and then I do find fault with them.

On Sunday evening, after 8 hours of delays and finally a canceled flight, I was told the first JetBlue flight available to us was Thursday and that we would be on our own in terms of lodging, food, local transportation, etc.  If we decided to make our own plans, we were still on our own.  When asking about any question pertaining to what JetBlue would do to assist us……the answer was always, "NO", we don't do that….but we'll see you Thursday!

No, we can't book you on another airline.  No, we do not have any food vouchers. No, we do not have any hotel vouchers…the last 2 'No's' at 8:30 PM!  In short, NO, NO, NO, thanks, you're on your own and have a nice day!  Sadly, Peter Greenberg may have been right when he commented the airlines mantra has become, "We're not happy until you're not happy".

Deep breath and an observation or two. If our owner operated industry mistreated our guests like thousands of air travelers were mistreated last weekend, we would be raked across the coals in every manner possible!  This little mishap, cost us over $2000 extra so we could get home late Monday/early Tuesday morning instead of late Thursday/early Friday morning.  If as Innkeepers, we were so cavalier in our treatment of the public when problems occur, even those problems beyond our control, we would find ourselves spiraling out of business.

The solution?  Be empowered and make the right decisions.  Relegate the word 'No' to the trash heap with those other objectionable/nasty words in our language.  Even when the answer may have to be 'no', find a way to incorporate a touch of humanity and care in the response.  Recognize that without guests, we don't have a business…and perhaps most of all, recognize that the absence of 'No' is at the core of Hospitality and Customer Service! JetBlue had the opportunity to be a hero in the eyes of thousands of stranded passengers through any of the most basic of acts, but they chose not to and as a result sat with a bag of lemons just waiting to be made into lemonade.

Let's not allow ourselves to sink to the level of the airline industry in terms of customer service and hospitality…just another reminder of how important it is that we need to strive to be the best we can be everyday!

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3 Responses to “Why not make Lemonade out of Lemons?”

  1. Penny Cote says:

    I so agree with you about airlines!!! It is too bad, because many of them work the same way. We have been stranded numerous times. Dan and I work hard never to say no and to always keep our guests happy, content, comfortable and loving their stay. Maybe it is experiences like yours that bring people to inns…..

  2. Rick Wolf says:

    Thanks Penny…and that is why you and Dan are off to a great start at Inn Victoria!

  3. Tom Kelley says:

    We say it’s sometimes the little things, but sometimes it’s the “big things” that matter. In the end, it’s EVERYTHING that matters to guests and customers.