As a consultant and a trainer on customer service, I often go to places to have a real feeling of services offered to customers. As I’m writing this article now, I’m in room 18 of a hotel in Butare called Ibis.
From the information gathered before coming here, this is the best hotel in town and the most frequent stopover for many tourists.
When I checked into the room, there was no remote control for the television and no telephone directory on the hotel services to even contact the reception.
Just imagine that incase of emergency in this room, there is no way to reach the reception or even call an outside number.
I then went to the reception to report about my missing remote control and a man was sent to check also the 2-channels-television that was not working either.
And guess what? The man simply told me that the television could not be clearer because of the antenna.
He promised to come back with the remote control but I waited the whole evening and he never showed up and the television never worked.
In the bathroom, there is no bathmat but rather an unhygienic wooden block. I know that when you pay $50 a hotel room, you do not expect luxury but a bathmat is the minimum you can ask for to avoid having water everywhere after a shower.
In the restaurant, Grace the waitress was very friendly and professional even though she doesn’t speak fluent English or French. She knew her job and was available. The food was also excellent.
I could also continue to write about the light by the bedside that is directly fixed in the eyes preventing one from reading in the bed.
But this 2-days–experience will fit in a book so I decide to check on trip advisor the comments of other guests who have stayed in this hotel.
For your information www.tripAdvisor.com is a free travel guide and research website that hosts reviews from users and other information designed to help customers plan their vacations.
There are over 25 million views and comments on all destinations including Rwanda.
On this hotel called Ibis, I was happy to find some positive comments but wasn’t surprised to read the many negative comments by customers.
Just imagine the impact of these negative comments on Rwanda!!!
And it is for this reason that something urgent needs to be done concerning norms and standards of the numerous hotels opening up in all corners of the country.
A hotel is a public place that should be constructed in respect of norms and standards.
Any establishment whether a hotel or a guest house needs to meet relevant standard requirements such as quality in areas of cleanliness, service delivery, bedrooms linen, furnishings, electrical equipments, health and safety, bathrooms, fire precautions, food safety and hygiene etc..
Much as we are all happy that the country now records 4,225 hotel rooms compared to 3,438 last year, all should not be on the numbers but rather quality as well.
My question here is to know if the owners of these hotels go through any sort of counseling before they put up their hotels. When I read through the international norms of classification of hotels, there are so many hotels here that cannot be rated.
Hospitality just like many other businesses needs professionalism.
You just don’t become a hotelier like that. As a hotel owner, you cannot put a niece or a nephew there without offering the basics of training.
When you invest in the “Hard” that is the building and the equipments, you also need to invest in the “Soft” that is the Staff.
As I went for breakfast the following morning at the Ibis hotel, the lady was eating right in front of customers.
And when I told her some things were missing on the buffet, she looked at me as if I was disturbing her breakfast.
While I was insisting; she told me that after all breakfast is free so if I come and do not find certain items on the buffet, I must as well accept it like that.
Dear readers, I thought I was dreaming. Apparently, this waitress didn’t know that when the rates are inclusive, it doesn’t mean that breakfast is free.
I really think hotel owners need to be called upon by authorities. They need to be thought standards of operations.
They need to understand that the image of the country relies on a big part on them and their team members.
Hotels are the first service providers that every tourist or investor uses when he/she arrives here. So let’s work urgently on their standards and quality.
Customer care is beyond just the greeting and the friendliness. It is also the respect of standards and the quality of the products we are offering.
The author is a customer service consultant presently working in Rwanda