I’ll bet you’re familiar with this cliché:
You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Yet, so many businesses and organizations fail at this. Take my recent experience at a 4-star (TripAdvisor rating) resort that definitely needs improvement. See if you’d react the same way I did…
After a 5 to 6-hour drive to reach the resort, we entered the check-in line. There were three front desk employees serving guests and my husband and I waited our turn patiently.
After the guests before us left, I stepped up to the desk to wait for the agent. A supervisor was giving her direction so I didn’t say a word.
Within a second, the supervisor lifted her head and said to me, “Can you please wait for the next guest service agent, Ma’am?”
Now, one could think this was a harmless response, right? But, I had just arrived; it was my first visit to that resort; and I was taken aback. How about welcoming me first?
A better response would have been, “Welcome to the XXX Resort! I hope you don’t mind waiting for the next guest service agent as I’m helping [first name] with the last reservation.”
Now, wouldn’t that have been warmer and welcoming?
When we finally checked in, I asked the guest service agent if the front desk manager could call me, to which he obliged. The next day, there was a voicemail from a manager indicating that I could call her back or talk to any other front desk manager anytime. I didn’t call back and there was no further follow-up from the resort during the entire week.
Not a good first impression at all!
On top of that, the inefficiencies continued. Admittedly, when you have a lousy first impression, it can taint your brand experience going forward.
Here’s my list of disappointments:
- The light on the staircase descending from our suite to the main property was burnt out all week. Both my husband and I tripped on separate occasions.
- One of the sofa pillows was ripped and never replaced even after a cleaning on the third day.
- While putting my toiletries away in the bathroom, one of the shelves collapsed. It was missing the fourth support, so my husband removed it.
- As the property is extensive, we asked at least two staff for directions to specific locations and they couldn’t tell us.
- When we wanted ice, we couldn’t find an ice bucket in the room. (Gosh, even Motel 6 has ice buckets!) My husband called Guest Services and the agent said he would send one to our room. My husband met the employee near the ice dispenser and noticed that there weren’t any bags to carry the ice—if you don’thave a bucket.
- Before our visit, I called the resort to inquire about its pet policy and discovered that no pets are allowed. So, we left our dog with a pet sitter for $25 a night. Although this policy was also confirmed in writing in the on-site resort handbook, my husband bumped into two different guests walking their dogs! When he asked one guest, the man said that he had called in advance and was told that pets under 20 lbs. were permitted on the property.
- The wood furniture was showing its age. There were spots where the stain was worn off. (This can be remedied by someone who knows how to touch up wood. I’ve even done it.)
- The resort literature indicated that there was a safe in each room. When we couldn’t find one, my husband called Guest Services to discover that some rooms didn’t have one—including ours!
- During the first two days of our stay, there were workers outside our bedroom window welding the railings. Yes, that makes noise. It made me wonder why no one gave us a head’s up or offered a room without maintenance outside. The resort was quiet that week and not anywhere near capacity.
- Lastly, our checkout was the perfect opportunity for the front desk agent to ask about our stay. NADA! Not even a thank you!!
A resort like this should be more diligent about its brand reputation in every detail and touchpoint. Once I started looking, I saw other areas where it needed improvements. Based on what other guests told us, its priority is selling timeshares.
Now, do you think my experience would have been different had my first brand touchpoint been amazing? It’s hard to say. One thing’s for sure. The lackluster welcome made me more aware of the resort’s flaws. As a result, I would not recommend it.
If you want to amaze your customers, make sure their first brand touchpoint (and all others) exceed their expectations!