You´re amazing!

The following story was found on Tripadvisor: I would like to take the opportunity to praise one of Hotel Stardust´s housekeeping staff, her name is Eva. Eva went above and beyond what could be expected in terms of service. I stayed at your hotel as I was attending a wedding in the vicinity. I had one dress with me and discovered at the last moment that it needed some adjustments. In desperation I asked Eva´s assistance and she saved the day. It was such a pleasure to stay at your hotel, thanks to Eva´s and the other staff members´ kindness. I shall never forget Eva´s thoughtfulness. Staff like her are a rarity. I sincerely hope the hotel´s management appreciate her. Hotel Stardust´s reply on Tripadvisor: Many thanks for having taken the time to write about your positive experience of service at our hotel. We are delighted to have been of assistance with your dress. I will certainly pass on your compliments to Eva. She´s an outstanding member of staff who puts so much effort into her work. Very much looking forward to seeing you here at our hotel in the near future.


  • What impact does such praise have on the employee in question when they are identified by name?
  • What impact does praise have on other staff members?
  • What are effective ways to channel praise to deserving staff in the work place?
  • What impact can praise have on interaction in the workplace?

Never simply do nothing

Front desk staff notice that the guest in Room 101 is considerably drunk when he enters the lobby. They also know that housekeeping are cleaning the rooms on the floor where his room is. They call the hotel manager, who is a physically strong individual, and inform him of the situation. The manager calls the head of housekeeping and tells her to inform her staff that he will be present in Room 101 while it´s being cleaned. No staff should enter the room before he comes. As a follow up to this arrangement the manager knocks on the door of Room 101 and enquires if it´s okay to have the room cleaned. While cleaning is in progress he and the guest chat about things in general. When the room is ready the hotel manager thanks the guest for a pleasant conversation, shakes his hand and leaves.


  • What sort of problem could have arisen here?
  • What features in this case can be considered as being essential for both successful communication and security in the workplace?
  • How could the matter have been dealt with if the hotel manager had not been there?
  • Discuss the security measures in place where you work should a similar situation arise.

“To disturb or not disturb” – Who´s responsible?

It´s 9 am when there´s a knock at the door and a voice calls out “Housekeeping”. I couldn´t believe my ears and moaned out loud, “No, no”. There was a second even louder knock and I could hear the door being opened. I was scantily dressed and called out, “No, no”. The maid apologised and quickly exited. I couldn´t sleep a wink after this disturbance. When checking out I told the head of reception about this incident. She listened and said she understood that it must have been most inconvenient and apologised sincerely. She explained that here was a need to improve the training of housekeeping staff. I was satisfied with the apology but would have appreciated some form of compensation.


Remember, there can be more than one right answer! What other explanation could there be for this mistake other than a lack of training? Why is an apology important? What is your opinion about how the head of reception responds to the complaint? What advice would you give the head of reception about how she should respond to any future complaint?

Working as a team in housekeeping

A particular hotel was undermanned in housekeeping due to several staff being off sick. The number of guests was however the same and they were even expecting new arrivals. The rooms needed to be spick and span and ready for occupancy by 3 pm, the official time for guests to check in. At 11 am the receptionist called the head of housekeeping to inform her that there was a couple at the front desk with a sick child who was throwing up. He politely asked if there was a room ready for occupancy and, if not, whether it would be possible to quickly make one ready. Of course, housekeeping was sympathetic towards the couple´s predicament, but it meant they would have to reorganise their work plan and work at an even quicker pace – which of course they did. The head of housekeeping later told staff that the couple expressed their heartfelt gratitude when she met them later in the day.


Remember, there can be more than one right answer! What effect would it have had on other guests in the lobby if the couple with the sick child had been forced to wait four hours for their room? What are the pros and cons of providing such additional services? What impact could such pressure have on staff teamwork were it a regular occurrence? What comments could the couple have written about the hotel on its booking site? What more could the head of housekeeping have said to or done for housekeeping staff?

The little things really do matter

When Jói began working in housekeeping at a respectable guesthouse he started to think about ways to make guests happier. He noticed that guests with children didn´t always have toys with them. Jói went on line and in a search engine typed in: How to make toys with towels. All sorts of clever ideas came up. He took to shaping various animals out of towels when children came to stay. Jói´s English was pretty limited, but he could see from both the parents´ and children´s expression that they appreciated what he´d done. One day sometime later the owner came to Jói and said with a smile: “Jói, you got special mention on Tripadvisor today and we got a five-star recommendation. The guests said that what made their stay so memorable were the little “animals” that awaited then each time they came to the hotel. How do you find the time to do such things?”, the owner enquired in a demeaning tone.


Remember, there can be more than one right answer! What are the pros and cons of such additional services? Just how far should one go to make a guest happy with extra service? Is the owner happy with Jói´s work? Mention some examples where service goes beyond expectations.

And then what?

Sandra is asked to go up to a hotel room with ordered food. She knocks three times on the door and calls out, “Room service”. The door is opened by an expectant, enthusiastic, well-built man having only a towel about his waist. Sandra feels his gaze run up and down her body. She bids him good evening and somewhat hesitatingly enters the room. She puts the tray on the table, checks the order and asks the guest to sign for the bill. Sandra thanks the guest and leaves, carefully closing the door behind her. She feels a sense of relief once out in the hall.


  • Why does Sandra feel a sense of relief once she´s left the room?
  • What might the story be suggesting?
  • What sort of precautions need to be taken in such situations?

What´s done can´t be undone

The front desk receives a call from Room 202. In an irritated voice the room´s occupant complains that there are no bath towels. The receptionist calmly acknowledges that this is a regrettable oversight and apologises for the inconvenience. He assures the guest that towels will be brought to the room within 15 minutes. Before the conversation ends the guest overhears how the receptionist vents his anger on a fellow employee for this oversight. The guest now feels guilty for having made the complaint. Ten minutes later there´s a knock on the door of Room 202 and the guest is presented with his towels. The maid apologises profusely, however the unfortunate guest is left feeling somewhat embarrassed.


  • What sort of staff morale do you think there is in this hotel?
  • How could staff communication be improved?
  • How could the maid see that the guest was embarrassed? Show the facial expression of a person who is feeling embarrassed. How does a guest feel after such an experience?

Not my problem!

When two travellers were about to charge their mobile phones upon arrival at their accommodation they discovered that they had forgotten the charger in the hotel room where they had stayed the previous night. They immediately called the front desk of the hotel. The polite receptionist couldn´t see that the charger had been found but promised to check and call them back. The guests said there was only one socket in the room and so they could tell the receptionist exactly where the charger was located. Around midday the following day there was still no news of the missing charger, so the hotel was again contacted. In an authoritative voice the receptionist said that housekeeping staff had been “questioned” regarding the missing charger. They had found nothing, but he promised to follow up on the matter. On day three there was still no response from the hotel and so the former guest called yet again. This time they were informed that the charger had been found. The receptionist offered to send the charger to the address provided in Reykjavik. A week later the package was collected and paid for at the post office. It was clear that considerable care had been taken when wrapping the charger.


  • How can staff put in place an efficient system to ensure better service?
  • How can housekeeping and front desk staff ensure that items forgotten by guests can be returned safely and quickly?
  • What does an authoritative voice sound like? Try one.
  • What does this case tell as to the interaction between front desk and housekeeping?
  • What does the story tell us about staff caring and paying attention to details
  • What kind of atmosphere do you think there is in this workplace?

The whole place flooded!

When Hans is on holiday he likes nothing better than to start the day by taking a nice hot shower. He and his wife, Anna, have just enjoyed a good night’s sleep their first night at a particular hotel. Anna however wakes to a loud commotion coming from the bathroom and goes to see what’s the matter. The bathroom floor is completely flooded. The couple’s immediate reaction is to throw all the available towels on the floor in an attempt to mop up the water (not bad as a morning exercise!). They decide not to waste their precious time on complaining. The following day they decide to limit themselves to a brief shower, but the clogged drain means the floor is very quickly flooded again. Later in the day the couple go to the front desk to reserve a table at a restaurant. The receptionist is friendly and helpful but never once enquires as to whether they are enjoying their stay. The couple are reticent to bring up the matter of the clogged drain and the flooded bathroom floor. The next morning when they´ve paid their bill the receptionist eventually asks if they were happy with the service. They sense he really wants a frank response and so they inform him as to the problem with the clogged drain. The receptionist is genuinely sorry to hear about the problem and offers a small discount on the bill. He also apologises profusely for the inconvenience suffered.


Remember, there´s more than one correct answer! How would you rate organisation and staff cooperation at this hotel? What should housekeeping staff have done once they saw the state of the bathroom floor? What is the responsibility of the guest when such an accident occurs? Consider the following statement from Vakinn in relation to the example given. “A company´s staff and management should use natural resources in a responsible way.” Was it too late for the hotel to respond to the situation when the guests were checking out? Your evaluation should take into account both the guest´s and employee´s perspective. How can guests be encouraged to report that something is broken or not up to standard?

Body language: Speaking without words

In his hotel room, Siggi hurried to boil water in a kettle so he could offer his girlfriend a nice cup of coffee when she came in from the cold. To his dismay he discovered there was only decaf and tea available, no coffee. In fact, there were two sachets of decaf that neither of them really liked. He remembered having seen the maid vacuuming in the hallway when he came in. He recalled she was dressed in a dark uniform and brightly coloured socks, each of a different colour. Siggi decided to go out in the hall, even though he was only wearing shorts and a singlet and see if the maid could help him. She spoke no Icelandic and only a few words of English. Siggi failed to make himself understood. The maid was uneasy and walked towards the open bedroom door. She enquired with hand gestures whether she might enter. She placed her trolley with linen and cleaning items against the open door. The moment Siggi pointed to the tea/coffee tray she quickly understood what the problem was. She filled the tea/coffee tray, added some chocolates and said with a smile, “I apologise”. She carefully closed the door on the way out.


Remember, there´s more than one one correct answer! In what way do you think the maid responded professionally to the situation? Why do you think the tea/coffee tray had not been properly filled? Why does the maid park the trolley in the open door? Think about whether the maid´s different coloured socks mattered in this case study. What nationality do you think would have been more dissatisfied with there being no coffee, an Icelander or a Chinese?

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