Editor’s Viewpoint: From Britain’s Worst Hotel to Retaining Loyal Diners

nokia-623939A couple of stories recently caught my attention, both featured on our website: “Hotel, Dubbed the Worst in Britain Closed Down”, and “Diners More Likely to be Loyal to Businesses Offering Free Wi-Fi”.

The hotel, dubbed the worst in Britain would be comical if it was not so serious. Almost all the reports I read included the words “Fawlty Towers”. However, the hotel was a catastrophe waiting, evident by the fact that upon being closed with immediate effect guests were only allowed back into collect their belongings, something I have not heard of before.

If it is the worst in Britain it has to go some way to beat the hotel that we here at RBC Publishing used to stay at regularly when we exhibited in the Midlands. For at least five years we stayed in a very reasonably priced and comfortable popular conference hotel. However, a couple of years back the hotel had a complete change of direction and we were staggered at the deterioration. So much so that we cancelled our contract with them. I often check Tripadvisor to see the most appalling reviews left – most surprised the hotel has not been closed down. The latest review lead with “Complete dive! Enter at your own risk!” This sort of summed up our experience and I, along with Tripadvisor reviewers, am astounded it is still trading.

I really do despair when I read stories like this, which gives the industry an awful, and undeserved reputation. The problem with much of the media now is they revel in stories like this, and this story has become national news in all the leading daily newspapers. I have often said, like or loath them review sites are now the benchmark by which hospitality businesses are judged. When reviews left by people repeatedly saying the same thing, one clearly knows that it is time to take action, and if proprietors/managers don’t, well this story serves as an example!

The other story I read was the provision of Wi-Fi being more likely to attract customer loyalty. Quite a few years ago an advertiser of ours who specialises in Wi-Fi said to me at a trade show, “When you are in a restaurant watch what happens when somebody leaves the table”. I did, and almost everybody goes into their bag or pocket takes up the phone to check emails or web surf.

Free Wi-Fi is increasingly common in the corporate/multi chain and casual dining outlets. So are you keeping up with the Joneses? A recent report by the NPD group revealed that branded foodservice outlets are eating into the market share at the expense of independents, grabbing more and more of the market share. What is it that makes the branded business is more attractive?

Well, while speculation on my part (since I have always preferred the warmth and service of the independent sector) it could be the success in the branded foodservice sector is down in part to the marketing and add-ons they provide. As the article by Intelligent spaces company Purple states, “Using WiFi combined with analytics and marketing tools can further boost business. By offering free WiFi to guests, accessed by social login, bars and restaurants are able to understand more about their customers, including their gender, age, hometown, interests. They can also track how often they come back. These insights help create more timely, relevant and valuable interactions, which the survey proved to be welcomed by customers.”

I know that some time ago we here at RBC Publishing were significantly “off our game” with respect to technology and social media. We found our much larger competitors were offering far more than we were, and we had to address that, investing in new technology, overhauling our websites, now mobile friendly, newsletters, email marketing, social media etc, so it begs the question, if you are not providing free Wifi, are you losing out?

Look out for our forthcoming issues, we will be including articles on how you can take advantage of Wifi and use it as a marketing tool.

Peter Adams
Editor of CLH News