Dropping the ball

My team and I have recently undergone a truly humbling experience at BON Hotels. Having always prided ourselves on not only getting the basics right, but also on setting the bar  high, we have been found wanting, and in fact, this time around, have got things very wrong.

Every guest and visitor to a BON Hotels property or resort is urged to respond and rate us via our guest surveys. This is one of our biggest yardsticks on how we are doing on the ground because at the end of the day, the guest is our most important critic. So yes, we do open ourselves up to honest feedback and have always braced ourselves for criticism. The recent festive season has highlighted where we fell short in a big way at one of our resorts.

Unfortunately, we completely under-estimated the operational and managerial requirements needed to cope with volumes of holiday makers descending on our resort. We were under-prepared, under-staffed, and in fact, under-assuming.  You can have the best head office in the world and boast to all and sundry about your superior systems and procedures on paper, but at the end of the day, it boils down to the team on the ground.

In the past few weeks, we have learnt that the dynamics of resort management can be a challenge. While hotel guests should be a priority at all times, managers also need to consider holiday makers and day visitors, catering to and managing the needs of all. Restaurants and food and beverage departments must be equipped to scale for high volumes of people, tables constantly turning, waiting lists and melting ice cream. Staff should be fired up and motivated. Reserve staff should be waiting in the wings, ready to jump in at the drop of a hat. Hindsight is 20/20 – but what is critical now is how we manage and repair the damage.

The BON Hotels brand is our priority and we can take an honest blow to the chin, but how we react is important. And the reaction of my team has been truly inspiring. Thoughts have shifted very quickly from a sombre disappointment to a highly motivated ‘let’s make sure that never happens again’ attitude! Our work is cut out for us: our task is to restore our credibility and trust. We take the challenge!

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