Everywhere I go, I see examples of companies and individuals getting the message about the opportunities in a downturn, as well as of companies and individuals not getting the message. I saw both at the Bellagio. My experience is illustrative of the opportunities that are being squandered because of some not getting it.
When I made my reservation to stay at the Bellagio, host hotel for the conference, they were offering on the net a special of "stay two nights and get the third night free." I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
Upon checking in, my hospitable clerk confirmed that the third night would be free and would be taken care of at checkout. He then nicely offered me an upgrade, at a very attractive price I might add. I decided to take advantage of that offer.
Note...I am starting to feel really good about the Bellagio. Both on a personal level for the amazing deals I am getting, but also at a consulting level that "they get it about the downturn being an opportunity to take market share away from competitors."
Over the ensuing three days, I repeatedly observed very hospitable and attentive service. My admiration for the Bellagio kept growing.
Saturday morning, I had an early flight back east. So I checked out early. I was pleased to see no line. The front desk clerk was quiet but professional. She printed out my bill and handed it to me. But, I noted that they had charged me for the third night, which was supposed to be free.
I called the mistake to the clerk's attention and she said she would print out a new bill. But, interestingly she offerred no apology for the billing mistake.
When she handed me the corrected final bill, I told her that I was disappointed that I had to be the one telling them what our arrangements were. Her response was something to the effect that "that is the way our system is." The consultant in me couldn't resist suggesting nicely to her that she pass on to management my view that such is not right. Her facial look made very clear that she wouldn't be passing on anything and that she would prefer I just leave (there was no one else waiting to be served).
I decided I would make my suggestion directly to management. I asked to speak to a manager. The manager came around to meet me face to face (rather than speaking to me from behind the desk). Smart.
It quickly became apparent that the manager didn't see any problem. After all, I had gotten the right final bill. She informed me that the clerk had missed the notation on the screen when processing my checkout. Now, I make plenty of mistakes...so I can appreciate the clerk missing. Of course, the clerk never owned up to missing anything, instead deciding to "trash" her employer ("that is the way our sytem is").
The manager's facial expression and comments quickly told me that she didn't see any problems...not in customer's having to remind the hotel of the free night or in an employee blaming the company rather than owning up to her oversight. She said she would speak to the employee but did so in a way that seemed more designed to just want to get me out the door.
I am much more forgiving of the frailties of front line personnel. I expected much better from a manager at the Bellagio.
So here is the moral to this story:
The Bellagio loses an opportunity to dazzle me due to two employees who apparently view customers as the problem.
Heck...no big deal. I am just a single customer.
Or, am I one of a number of Bellagio customers being served up for Steve Wynn's new hotel (as most readers know, Mr Wynn formerly owned the Bellagio and built the gorgeous Wynn a couple of blocks down the Strip).
Heck, in these days, a single disatisfied customer can tell friends...or post their story to a blog.
If you are a business owner or manager, are your efforts to adjust to the changed markets being sabotaged by some employees who don't understand that the only thing standing between them and being unemployed is a customer or two?
If you are an employee, are you sabotaging the efforts of your colleagues and your employer with your "I can't be bothered" attitude.
This downturn presents such great opportuntites for those who understand the new market realities. I have long believed that the customer is king (or queen). In this economic environment, every customer needs to be treated like a king!