Friday, 28 September 2012

Thought Picnic: Villa Bellagio - a case of a manager beyond her depth


A bad manager
When  I consider the issues I have with Villa Bellagio, the hotel I have stayed in for 2 weeks now that has failed to resolve the 10 day loss of wireless internet service, I see a serious deficit in problem management that I put down mainly to the manager at first and then to the brand.
The hotel in advertsiements clearly touts that it offers free Wi-Fi, it is part of the product set and like I have said before, one of the things people check for when booking a hotel is the availability of Internet connectivity, either wired or wireless. It is also becoming uncompetitive to charge for that service and this trend was started by hotels with the Radisson brand name and it has extended to the group and now beyond that.
The lies are many
The manager had a story as regards the loss of this service for the first 4 days which was far from the truth when she blamed it on Swisscom saying other hotels were having the same problem when our own independent investigation determined that the hotel or possibly the hotel chain itself had cancelled their contract with Swisscom.
Apparently she was not aware of that situation until I informed her of the situation. What amazed me was how such a unique selling point in the hospitality industry could have been missed by a manager running a hotel with about 100 rooms.
I accept the fact that we are unusual clientele for the fact that we have spent more the typical average stay of less than 3 nights such that the story that might have worked for short-stayers will not work for us, but it makes the issue nonetheless urgent.
No problem ownership
She never once owned the problem from the very start, everything else was to blame, Swisscom first, then her head office and now probably us for being a nuisance demanding the service be restored.
She no doubt must have had a discussion with her staff because I first heard of the “it is a complementary service” line came from one of the desk clerks, but she was missing a fundamental point which was, complementary or not, this was part of hotel service just as much as one will expect to have one’s room cleaned, clean bed linen, a television and even a fridge, if not a mini-bar.
No re-mediation steps
Between the hotel group and the hotel, they cannot have been unaware of the pending loss of this service and facilitated a replacement, first with immediate re-mediation pending the installation of the new service with presumably the service provider I am told they have signed up with, but I am nowhere near believing that she has told the truth here either.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion she will manufacture any story to get her out of a sticky confrontation with me that I will need to contact the head office myself and remonstrate about this dissimulating manager.
Beyond her depth
Beyond the being a hotel desk clerk able to check-in and check-out middle-aged to retired Far-East Asian guests, this lady who has been promoted well beyond her capabilities cannot really manage a hotel, she by terms looks no different from her staff and lacks the requisite aptitude to manage even the simplest situation of giving priority to rooms that clearly have “Please Make Up My Room” door signs over other non-urgent rooms. [See earlier blogs on this.]
That it has taken this exceptional situation to recognise a fundamental flaw is both unfortunate and careless, she has not grown to the challenge and by that, she might well destroy both her job and the brand too just because 6 people came to stay 3 long weeks at the hotel and got a good feel of how it really is being run.
Abandon hope
So, once again, I was at the desk this morning, we had extended our stay for another 2 nights; at this stage there really was no reason to change hotels even though we had another week to run. Our patience has been tested, our endurance of the incomprehensible has been tried, and life goes on.
There. I learnt that new phone lines have to be put in on Monday and then the wireless connectivity will be restored thereafter. I did not believe one word of what she said apart from understanding we might not get the service restored before we leave and that is if ever the service will be restored at all, it has gone on too long to hold that prospect.
When I asked for a contact at their head office, she said she will call up for me and then connect the person to my room. Trust had broken down to the level that I just told her, I will find out myself and make my own call.

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