• Stephan Busch

Customer service highlights hotels can learn from Insurances & Banks

It might come as a shock but to my surprise some of the service highlights of Insurances and banks are copied already by hotels.

Mergers make board happy not the guest

With the big and bigger mergers in hotel business it doesn’t come as a surprise that many functions are centralized to save money. It always ends up being a cut on customer service. For a bank and an insurance we had to learn to live with it as they don’t care about their customer once they hooked him. Their hooks are pretty good and in small print. Try to get of the hook!

Centralize, optimize, minimize

Hotels should think differently but it seems just to tempting. Owners and Management want more profit, faster profit and – whatever as long as profits are rising. Guest? Customers? Oh yes, we want them too! So some young career oriented vice president who still has to leave his marks of success in the holy halls of head office will come up with a scheme to centralize, optimize, minimize - something. It ends up always in profit and the board is happy and the vice president is happy. And the guest is… oh well he will forgive us this time.

Banks did it already!

Online banking is very convenient and finally saves the bank to see the customers face in real time. While in hotels online booking and the tremendous rise in online booking pages changed the reservation habits it still can’t be avoided that the guest will show up at one time and wants a bed. To avoid too many encounters with this people we offer machines where you can check in yourself, apps that allow you to get the room key on your telephone instead from the reception, robots that are up to now unfortunately not up to standard and payments without staff- guest contact.

While the bank could lay off most of their staff and replace them with machines hotels have to keep this nuisance of humans around. But just for a while.

My health insurance is much better. They send me every year a letter with the headline” new definition of service”. Creates a great feeling. It’s a long letter that describes in nice words which services and benefits are cut from this year on and how much my insurance will increase.

Insurances are great when it comes to service.

In twenty years I never used my insurance – not once – but it increased from 350 Euro monthly to 800 Euro monthly. It is Axa and I am sure they don’t mind that I spell their name. First I am sure they don’t care and second all the others are not better. I am hooked as to change a health insurance after the age of forty is almost impossible or so expensive that it is impossible. To get visas for certain countries you need an insurance and mine is on the list of most governments. Now comes the service part.

When I need a written statement that I am insured with them I can call a telephone number that is never answered. It is centralized , plays nice music and nobody ever picks up. Most probably a computer records how long someone stays on the line until he gives up and the board has a good laugh about the “most persistent idiot of the month” who thought someone would pick up. So now you go online and send them a mail and request your written statement. An answer follows right away which thanks you for the request and that they will follow up immediately. The e mail is much longer as tons of ads for new insurances are added. The immediate follow up takes at least one month. If you are lucky.

With hotels I wrote the article “Do we really care?’ about my request for reservation with a Ritz Hotel. I wrote to the e mail wecare@ritzcarlton.comand received answers from multiple wecare@marriot.come mails. They got mixed up with their brands and none of them answered my request. Out of fun I continued the conversation even until a week after my requested reservation date. Finally I was informed by a quality manager that the date had passed. Not worse then the insurance – we are getting there.

Don't hang up on them! They do that for you!

Calling international five star hotels for a reservation ends up in many countries with the receiver being dropped down and the hustle you can hear in the back of a frantic search for an English speaking employee. Here the guest should hang up already. I don’t! I am used to it. I am getting used to bad service. We are getting there.


Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia. Stephan Busch, serves as Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. www.itsjusthotelsservice.com, contact@itsjusthotelsservice.com


© 2017 by Stephan Busch