Does the experience match the marketing?

“We invite you to experience our world class facility and five star service!”

How often do we see these words in marketing campaigns, websites and brochures of hotels and resorts? Photos of the sun going down over the ocean, bubbling brooks, white fluffy towels, sun lounges and a chilled glass with bubbles rising to the top. It’s so real you can smell the salt in the air and the cool liquid quenching your thirst, writes Michelle Pascoe.

What is the picture you create in your mind? Do you imagine how it is going to feel and how wonderful it is going to be, do you book, lured in by the well written marketing copy?

Hotel Apathy

Let me tell you about Hotel Apathy. My husband and I decided we would have a weekend away, so after much Google research we chose a venue that offered accommodation, entertainment and amazing food (well that’s what the website said).

We arrived late Friday afternoon to be confronted by a staff member at the front desk who looked like they had just sniffed a rather unpleasant smell and were put out when we asked to borrow their pen to sign the check in documents. This certainly was not the person that was smiling at me from the website and telling me that I was going to have an amazing time.

Once receiving the key, battling the lifts as only one was working out of four, due to maintenance, we walked the long hallway and eventually stood in front of our room door to find that the automated card key had not been coded correctly so we had to trudge back downstairs; not a great first impression.

The room itself was okay until we opened the curtains and were confronted by a scene of air conditioning units instead of the promised ocean view.  By this time we were not feeling the elated excitement that we once had and were now beginning to nit-pick at everything. Have you ever felt that way and started to wonder why you even left home and what you could have done with the money instead of spending it on this over-priced hotel?

After a number of other issues in our room – air con not working, not enough towels – we entered the dining room and were pleasantly surprised to see that it did match the website photos and so our mood began to change. Maybe this place wasn’t as bad as we had first thought. The food was delicious and the surroundings were relaxing, but what really made the night was the wonderful staff, they were smiling and made us feel really special.

Real people

The staff weren’t those in the photos, they were real people who engaged their guests, offering suggestions on where to visit while in the area and built a rapport that had us feeling that they genuinely cared and loved what they did.

Unlike the staff member who attended to us when we first arrived, the staff in the dining area were very focussed on providing excellent service. It is unfortunate when there are obvious “skunk” employees and they are given roles where they need to interact with guests that their attitude affects everyone.

Upon leaving the next day, we agreed that the meal and the staff in the dining room really provided a great experience, however, the other staff we came in contact with and the lack of overall care when it came to maintenance of the facilities, would not have us returning or recommending.


In our online feedback, we mentioned the excellent dining experience as well as the frustrations with facilities and the disappointing attitude of some staff. Unfortunately we did not receive any response from the management, but three months later we received a promotional email from the hotel telling us about their specials. I scrolled to the bottom and unsubscribed. If they didn’t have the courtesy to acknowledge my concerns then why should I give them the opportunity to fill up my inbox?

Tell the truth

No matter what industry your business is in, what you advertise, what you say, and the promises you make, must be truthful.

Who are the people in your business that are providing that first impression? How often do you do an audit of your rooms?  Who is responsible for responding to social media comments?

Anyone can write great marketing copy but not every business backs it up with a team that has a positive attitude and that genuinely cares about their guests. Do you deliver what you promise?

About the author

Michelle Pascoe is a speaker, author and career advisor.

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