Sometimes it’s not about the toilet paper

Sometimes it’s not about the toilet paper

I travel quite a bit. And when I do, it’s rare that I take time to notice the details of my surroundings, like the people around me or the particularities of the modes of transportation or my hotel rooms, usually because I’m mentally elsewhere — thinking about work.

Occasionally I’ll get an observational flash, like noticing a look between two people or glimpsing the strange color of the sky. But I’m mostly immune.

On a recent trip, however, I had a moment of realization about the challenge of great ‘hospitality’. It’s well-known that this industry, more so than any other, is a victim of details. Read any TripAdvisor review and you see how people are such sticklers for details when they travel, and how hotels really need to cover all of their bases to avoid negative reviews.

It’s incredible how observational and critical people are when they travel. Likely it’s because there are so many choices when you travel — “You have many choices when you travel, so thanks for choosing Southwest” — that they’re constantly measuring up their choice against the alternatives.

So, with customers in hyper-critical mode, hotels strive to hit every detail. The bed is made just-so, the front desk greets you with just the right balance of enthusiasm and poise, etc. But one thing I see hotels always getting wrong is prioritizing toilet paper and forgetting about the tissues.

Yes, high quality toilet paper is important, and it’s a “touch point” (sorry!) that every guest will encounter, while many won’t ever use the tissues. But if the difference in quality is markedly different, you have to wonder why. Were they banking on fewer people using tissues and thus found a point of compromise for the budget? Was it an afterthought? Or just overlooked?

Deluxe_Room_KingThe lesson here is not really about hospitality, it’s about being consistent. It’s easy to prioritize certain parts of your marketing or content strategy, especially when you know which will be coming into contact with your customers more often. But don’t neglect the others just because you think you won’t be judged on them if they aren’t as high quality as the rest. You will. Because of the explosion of choice and the expectation of customer service, consumers in every industry are getting just as demanding as the luxury, business, or even budget traveler.

Count on it, and work towards pleasing them in every way possible.