The Idea Driven Blog

How To Tell If A Hotel Has A Good Employee Idea System in 20 minutes

How To Tell If A Hotel Has A Good Employee Idea System in 20 minutes post image

I used to play a game with my daughters when they were younger. Whenever we stayed in a hotel or motel, we tried to see who could figure out the quickest if it had a good idea system. It usually didn’t take longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

Most often, it would be because we found an obvious problem that front-line employees were all aware of, but had been unaddressed. One time, for example, we drove up to Montreal for the weekend, and stayed in one of that city’s nicer hotels. When we got to our room, we were thirsty, and I was deputized to get some bottled water from the gift shop. We had seen a sign in the elevator saying it was on the third floor. I rode the elevator down to the third floor, and walked around some deserted hallways for five minutes looking for the gift shop. Finally, I saw an employee and asked her.

“Oh, the gift shop closed several years ago, I’m sorry. We should have taken down that sign.”

Bingo! I had won the game, and in only ten minutes. This hotel had no idea system.

One of the first things that employees want to fix, when they are given the chance, is confusing signage. Bad or out-of-date signage confuses the guests, can make them frustrated, and repeatedly causes less than pleasant incidents or wastes the time of employees the guests then ask for help.

On the flip side of these obvious-but-unaddressed problems are nice and thoughtful touches that you don’t find in most places (sad to say, most hotels don’t yet have idea systems).

When working in with a UK financial services firm, I was put up in a Holiday Inn in London. As neatly pressed suits are mandatory in the British financial world, I had brought a garment bag with me, which I had nursed across on the airplane and since had carried full-length over my shoulder. On the pillar next to the reception desk was a large hook and a sign that read, “For guests to hang their garments on while they check in”. Bingo! The hotel had an idea system (I checked, and it did!).

At some point, a receptionist had pointed out that many guests were struggling with their full-length garment bags as they tried to sign their paperwork and produce their documents and cards, and the issue was fixed.

So the rule is: if a hotel is missing problems obvious to anyone on the front-lines, it doesn’t have an idea system. If, on the other hand, it exhibits nice and thoughtful touches that show real and close-in consideration of the customer experience, it has an idea system. Pretty simple!

Alan Robinson
Alan Robinson
Alan received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.A./M.A. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in Great Britain. He is a professor at the Isenberg School of Management of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and has advised more than 200 organizations in 25 countries on how to improve their idea performance.

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