by Egi Gaisie

For the purposes of ensuing discussions, let’s give myself a name… Ms. Tea.

This article continues  its explanation of HOTEL SERVICES as a PACKAGE. In part 1 Ms. Tea described Discovery Inn. She expressed her thoughts/opinions about various aspects of the hotel’s facilities.
As with every hotel, the basic services are guestrooms and something to eat and/or drink.

At Discovery Inn, and for all hotels, these basic services come with distinct ‘wrappings’. Can you identify what these are at the Discovery Inn in the last article?

To give you a hint they include the forest landscape and the escape theme.

Reread the description of Discovery Inn by Ms Tea in Part 1 and list what you understand as the ‘wrappings’ if you have not done so already. 
Experts have categorized four major types of ‘wrappings’  as making up the ‘service product’. These are supporting facilities, facilitating goods, explicit service and implicit service.
(This may sound vague but never mind, they will be broken down; this is what I meant earlier by ‘chewing on food’ in the preceding article). 

In this article you will begin to place the ‘wrappings’ you have identified into different categories as we discuss each of the four types named. 

Supporting Facilities comprise of the physical resources(tangible things) that must be in place before the service can be provided.

How do you understand the above statement?  Go through your list and separate the supporting facilities at Discovery Inn.

Did you consider the hotel building structure/architectural design, layout and interior décor?Identify the basic items in a guestroom which makes it functional. These may include the television, an air condition and fan, reading light, bed light switch, availability of day and night curtains, bedside room telephone, writing desk and chair, dresser mirror…and many more!

The  location of Discovery Inn, though in the city was concealed by a forest theme. The hotel therefore has unique features. Ms. Tea described the landscape,  interior décor, antique furniture at the lobby.  Describe the impressions these supporting facilities made on Ms Tea. Do you think they enhanced her stay at the hotel or not?

The external environs of Discovery Inn obviously made a positive impression on Ms Tea who seems to be a nature lover and who also appreciates pleasant surprises.

As Supervisors, we need to be particular therefore about the supporting facilities of our hotel’s service package.

I agree that  more often than not the infrastructure is already in place before we are employed but our awareness of the supporting facilities will enable us maintain or enhance what is there. An area we can significantly contribute to, is suggesting appropriate and adequate supporting equipment for our personnel to enhance the service process.

Take time to list the supporting facilities in the hotel you are working. Which of these apply to your department? Identify what you can do or suggest to enhance this ‘wrapper’.

Facilitating Goods: At Discovery Inn, Ms Tea is not just looking for a bed to sleep on. She would expect a good night’s sleep and would want to feel pampered, just like most other guests (though no guest will voice out these expectations)!

Facilitating goods are ‘the materials purchased or used by the customer/guest along the service process’. 

Can you  identify these items?

I identified the following: a good quality bed, clean and well maintained.  The details would be afirm mattress, plumb pillows, and bed linen made of pure cotton.   Believe it or not, the bed also needs to be well positioned to allow proper circulation.

On my list of facilitating goods in the bathroom are portable water, continuous hot and cold running water in the shower, flowing water in the sink and toilet,  good absorbing towels of at least two sizes and bath mat/towel and complete basic toiletries.

You realize the focus here is on quality, quantity and variety for selection.

Ms Tea would feel pampered if she has options to her selections of channels available to watch the television in her room and if  there was a bed light switch etc.  How often the bed sheets and towels are changed, and how the bed is made would not only contribute to the cleanliness of the room but would also makes her feel the hotel is paying attention to her!

Remember Ms Tea did not have much of a choice when it came to a room choice when she checked in at Discovery Inn.

As Supervisors, we have opportunity to make significant inputs here. It involves developing standards, ensuring availability, consistency, and creating choices for guests.

Consider your hotel. What inputs can you make to enhance this ‘wrapper’? 

Explicit services
These are said to be benefits readily observable by the senses; sight(vision), hearing(sound), smell, touch and taste.

Focusing on only the facilities at Discovery Inn what would you consider to be the explicit services in respect to Ms Tea’s experience at the hotel? You may read Part I again and then consider the following leads:

  • The landscape effect
  • The security personnel*
  • The door man*
  • The lobby encounter
  • The food and  beverage outlet encounter
  • The room product effect
  • The wine order

The asterisked items above were absent at Discovery Inn when Ms Tea arrived at the Discovery Inn; certain benefits could have been derived if they were present. 

Now compare your thoughts about the explicit services enjoyed by Ms Tea at Discovery Inn along the following lines.

Ms Tea’s immediate visual sense of  Discovery Inn was a strong pleasant feeling of escape. This was created by the forest landscape which may have also contributed to the noise reduction and minimized the sight of vehicular movement typical of city centers.  The forest ambiance was further enhanced by the sound of water creating a relaxed cool atmosphere. Statutes of some personalities not immediately recognized positioned in the open space with the background greenery create a concept of an open museum, serving as an added attraction. All of these together with the lighting effects must have dazzled Ms. Tea,  drawing her into in a different ‘world’ in the center of town and making Discovery Inn a destination hotel for her!

Note: the security absence, though negative, did not erode the pleasant welcome from the landscape.

Considering Ms Tea’s  lobby and food and  beverage outlet encounter on her day of arrival, it is likely upon entering the hotel lobby and not seeing a door man, she may have felt a bit ‘lost’ or felt a sense of adventure. The hit music of the 60’s may have also brought her  some memories of her youthful years.

How about the room product effect? Ms Tea was checked into room 205. The positive impression she had encountered before entering the room likely set the tone on what to expect. Recall her description of the room product:

Room 205: 
All the rooms, I was told, are of the same size, standard rooms. I had no choice to make, except the theme of the room.My eyes widened as I checked into the Safari-themed standard room. 

‘The room is small. I don’t really have any room to move around’, I thought to myself.  

 (Note: guests usually would exaggerate when they are very disappointed, especially when their expectations have been heightened; Ms Tea’s first impression with with the landscape concept).

‘I just love space, I know’, I continued in my thoughts.

When I settled in the room, I drew the heavy curtains of the window, which I thought contributed to making the room feel small. The view from the second floor, where my room was located, overlooked the compound of a house which was unkempt. 

‘The trees would have hidden this if I were placed on the first floor’, I said to myself. 

The WiFi was terrible, with little to no connection most of the time. There was no hot water running. I could not imagine the last time I took a cold bath and I am not about to, at Discovery Inn. I pulled out a water heater coil from my traveling bag. I had to call the front desk for a bucket.  The A/c was noisy and the remote control to it was not functioning. 

Do you hear the disappointment? …the feeling of being ‘boxed’ into a small room, a noisy air condition… Ms. Tea is likely not going to have a restful night sleep, although we are yet to know about her stay.

Expectations of this ‘wrapper’ of explicit services of the guestroom product in particular is not likely to be met.

Ms Tea did not make any comments on the wine order. The elements of explicit service to consider in this encounter are the speed of service, the accuracy of the order and the quality of the personal interaction she had.

Our role as Supervisors in this area will be similar to that towards facilitating goods; consistency of service output (here it would require  ensuring standards are in place and training personnel to work towards meeting the standards) as well as ensuring that the services advertised are available.

Implicit service
This is the psychological benefits that the guest/customer obtains from using a particular service.  In the case of Ms. Tea these may come from the feeling of escape, provided by the theme concept. The feeling of escape may help her relax and d-stress. Nature experiences are said to be desirable and healthy as well.

Supervisors are therefore encouraged to have personal interactions with guests and/or adopt varied strategies of receiving feedback from guests.

Concluding Thoughts

Let’s be frank, most of us have paid little or no attention to the above mainly because we did not  know about them or we underestimated their influence on the basic/core hotel services we offer.

Since this is a learning platform this information is welcoming. We must however now make use of our knowledge and responsibilities towards supporting facilities, facilitating goods, explicit service and implicit services  if we are to enhance our image to becoming more effective Supervisors.

What hotels offer as services must be viewed by us, the overseers of hotel services as a PACKAGE. Now that we know, making the effort to enhance these ‘wrappers’ will  improve the efficiency of our operations and the degree of change we bring could provide the ‘value for money’ for our guests.

REMINDERS: Take a look at the hotel you are working at. Identify the service package using the above understanding. How can you help to enhance it? You may not be directly responsible for it but you can make an input which could bring a change in the outlook of your hotel.

As you make these efforts be sure it will impact on your image as a supervisor!

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