Improving Guest Performance through Hidden Chemicals
Cars & Bars is a storytelling series compiling specific moments, mundane and exotic, from my work as a valet and bartender.
Last night, Jared Wilkinson [not his real name] shared this short comment via the hotel's online portal for tracking the overall guest experience:
Sparkling drinks made at the bar tasted strongly of chlorine and/or pipe cleaner.
While other sub-par guests might've missed the chlorine/pipe cleaner taste, kudos to Mr. Wilkinson for detecting it. With his astute sensitivity, and the courage to admit it in writing, he has officially passed Level 3 of our hotel's secret strategy for improving guest performance. (It is so hidden, in fact, that the corporate office doesn't yet know about it.)
Anyway, a small badge featuring the chemical smell of Mr. Wilkinson's choosing is in the mail. The badge looks especially terrific when sown onto a beanie or onto the side of a messenger bag. However, a word of caution: Please leave your beanie or messenger bag in the car when pumping gas. Trust me on this one; I've read the Safety Data Sheets.
God knows, the standards for guest performance at hotels have reached pathetic, even abysmal, levels. For instance, the majority of hotel guests are simply unable or unwilling to distinguish between an Asiago bagel and a Parmesan Cheddar bagel, or between a glass of pinot noir and a glass of malbec. Some of us in the hospitality industry have asked: Where is the shame in this skyrocketing ignorance?
Not to mention, guest requests for 4 to 6 bottles of water in addition to the complimentary bottle of water have reached an historically high threshold for guest-related annoyances. And although the atrocious lack of toilet-flushing in a hotel's public restroom has not attained the epidemic status of, say, the Rest Area restroom along a highway, the severity of this neglect coupled with the entrenched lack of concern or care for other people has caught the attention of hospitality researchers everywhere.
Taking our cue, then, from a company like Dairy Queen, which has expertly hid and pawned off below-average ice cream by coating it with bright sprinkles or dipping it in cheap chocolate, our hotel has devised a rather elaborate scheme to "expose" the better guests in our midst. The hope is certainly not to kill anyone; instead, as our guests survive the various levels of improved guest performance, we want to hold them up as meritorious examples of what the hotel guest can be.
Not much more can be said at this time. Except, if you genuinely desire to become a better guest, I would urge you to pay excruciating attention and to ask penetrating questions no matter how silly—
What exactly is that meat-like ingredient diced up and spread so lavishly throughout the seemingly delicious spring rolls featured once-a-week in the Club Level lounge?
If I book my wedding reception with the hotel, am I (mostly) confident that a majority of wedding guests can discern a Gin-and-Tonic from a Gin-and-Ammonia?
Is that ocean-scented shampoo resting on the counter in my hotel room, and now running down my body in the shower, infused with a hint of oil spill, or is that my imagination?
In the case of Mr. Wilkinson, what he didn't know about his sparkling drink might actually have hurt him. However, with our hotel pool currently under renovation, well, we had all this chlorine leftover and, honestly, we needed to put it to good use. It seemed a perfect fit for our new strategic emphasis to improve guest performance through hidden chemicals.
Believe us when we say: We remain convinced that Mr. Wilkinson will be a better hotel guest because he survived Level 3—notwithstanding his two days in the hospital. And if he can make it to Level 5, there will be a yummy cheese plate waiting for him upon his next stay. Unbeknownst to him, he will be asked to separate the artisan stinky cheeses from those cheeses laced with inflections of arsenic.
It's a lot tougher than you might think. Then again, so is being a really good guest.