Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why are there phones in the bathrooms of some hotel rooms?

Because of some starry-eyed dreamer's silly idea of "what guests expect". 

Why doesn't every hotel have a phone in the bath? We (at the mid-market and economy tier, anyway) have never had anyone ask for one nor complain because they didn't have one. 

Maybe our hotels aren't as "nice", but we deal with a nicer class of people, so it all evens out.

Image result for telephone in bathroom

Not to sound crude, but frankly, the utility value of such an amenity is something I don't regard as particularly healthy or intelligent. The scary part is that every such phone I've seen is a traditionally-styled phone with a handheld receiver. It's never a speakerphone that you can use while shaving or taking a shower (or, if a woman, applying makeup). That would seem to somewhat limit its potential use in a bath - and (other  than, just maybe, if several people are in a room and one of them needs  a place to talk on the phone privately, out of earshot of the others), I just don't find the one likely remaining use for it particularly appetizing (see Is it impolite to talk to somebody on the phone while defecating? ).

That said:

  • It's one of the requirements to be a four-star hotel according to some rating guides. I don't expect that that many people actually use them (I don't consider myself so indispensable to anything or anyone, or my own personal schedule so overwhelming, that I feel like I have to carry on a conversation while sitting on the toilet; nor do I have an ego that feels a sick little need to require that someone interact with me on such an occasion as part of a power trip or domination game I want to run on them.) But you need the four stars in order to draw customers who 'only stay at four star hotels', so you'd have to put in the phones in order to get the four stars.
  • I'd say that 75% or more of the downright stupidity in a 'hospitality industry' that cultivates and nurtures and rewards and promotes downright stupidity is rooted in some starry-eyed dreamer's theories of what guests expect - even if those starry-eyed dreamers are all but completely ignorant on the subject.
    • Do they carry on conversations while sitting on the toilet? Probably not, nor are they generally important enough that people will put up with it if they did. Me, I wouldn't stay on the line for a call from Ivanka Trump if I knew she was in the middle of her morning constitutional. And I wouldn't expect the lowliest room attendant at a competitor's fleabag motel to want to talk to me if I were similarly occupied (especially if I've got gas). It's disrespectful, and - if what people who carry on such conversations think they're getting out of it is 'respect' - not very respectable.
    • Will their whole day be ruined if they get an automated wake-up call rather than have the desk clerk call them (at precisely the right moment, regardless of how many rooms have a wake-up call scheduled at that same time) with a personal greeting? If so, they probably deserve to.
    • Would a hotel at which they're staying be completely discredited if the desk clerk isn't wearing a uniform vest like an organ grinder's monkey and reciting scripted customer greetings and information? They never thought of it. Or, perhaps, only to them - if they're the ones sitting in judgment . . . which is all such people are all about, anyway.
But the nicest thing that could be said for such starry-eyed dreamers is they've never thought of that before . . .

These people seem to deal with people - even people they consider superior to themselves - as objects or things: something that doesn't work no matter where you fit in the 'customer service' food chain. There's no actual connection with people by them. Such people seem to have little to no idea what really matters to a guest or how to go about providing it (assuming they don't see 'service' as something to make some underling do: see Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What are some good questions to ask a Customer Service candidate in an interview? ). I  give them no more credit for a 'service orientation' than I would the proverbial completely dry, detached, uncaring clerk who comes across like a DMV guy. 

Did you ever notice, back in high school, that some of the most 'uncool' things that you (or anyone you knew, if you don't want to admit to doing any of it yourself) did, were stupid things done out of trying to prove that you (they) were cool?  The same, counter-intuitive Zen element would apply.

We are not impressed.

Addendum (two days later . . .)

From Seth's Blog:

You don't have to pander

I cannot tell a lie: I put Seth up to this. It was all my idea. I think he reads WWMD, or follows me on Quora. Whatever. My ex-wife used to say, great minds work in pairs . . .  ☺

Originally appeared on Quora

From Seth's Blog:

You don't have to pander

Merely giving the people what they want is a shortcut to banality, mediocrity and invisibility.

The agency that gives its clients exactly what they think they want never deserves to win Agency of the Year, and worse, is rarely seen as the leader in the field, the trusted advisor that is smart enough to know what the client ought to want instead. They certainly can't charge more or hire better team members.

I'm defining pandering as using your perception of your customer's wishes as an excuse to do work you're not proud of.

The public radio station that puts on empty, sensationalist coverage of the current crisis-of-the-year is chasing others down the rabbithole, a chase it can't (and doesn't want to) win. [The excuse is always the same—it's what the listeners want!]

The bookstore that gives customers toys, games and other junk to survive won't long be able to call itself a bookstore.

The restaurant that eagerly serves kids salty, fatty, tasteless junk food because that's all they will eat is inevitably training an entire generation not to eat at restaurants when they grow up.

The architect who proclaims that times are tough and ends up doing nothing but ticky tacky work because it's easy to sell gets the clients he deserves.

The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever.

The reason you don't have to pander is that you're not in a hurry and you don't need everyone to embrace you and your work. When you focus on the weird, passionate, interesting segment of the audience, you can do extraordinary work for a few (and watch it spread) instead of starting from a place of average.

Go ahead and make something for the elites. Not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste. Every great thing ever created was created by and for this group.

There's a surprisingly large amount of room at the this end of the market--among those that care enough about what they do to say no, and better yet, to teach the market why they're right.

They earn their niche at the top of the market by leading, not pandering.

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