Spring has sprung and New Year’s resolutions have faded into the desert sand. Or have they? One of my New Year’s resolutions was to begin writing about more than just social and digital media in hotels. Don’t get me wrong, I still love everything online, digital, and social, but there comes a time when one yearns for change and something new, so I decided to write about backdoors instead. Not just any old backdoor, of course, but yours’ — or rather — your hotel’s backdoor. You know, the less glamorous entrance to your property, usually (though not always) at the back, tugged away between your linen trolleys, rubbish bins, and your receiving area.

As a hospitality, leisure, and tourism consultant, I lead an enormously glamorous life, spend sipping bubbly and eating donuts in hotel lobbies and restaurants across the country — or so I keep telling people who ask me what life as a consultant is like. In reality, I do spend a fair amount of time in hotel lobbies and restaurants (sans the bubbly and the donuts mostly, unfortunately), but I also regularly see the other, less glamorous side of hotels —once the job is done and the payment needs picking up, out goes the valet parking and glitzy entrances and in comes the “Oh, picking up a cheque? You need to go to our general cashier through the staff entrance”  moments.

I don’t have an issue with that — I enjoy the “behind-the-scenes” look I get while trying to locate the accounts office or general cashier cubicle. What does make me think, though, is the difference in treatment you receive in many hotels depending on which entrance you are using.

The fundamentals are, of course, the same: A person enters your hotel to conduct business. The person might have been in your hotel before, or might visit it for the first time. Both should, in theory, get a quality experience, which leaves positive impressions. “In theory” being the operative word here, because in practice this very often isn’t the case and I continuously marvel at how inhospitable even well-know luxury hotels in Dubai are “on the other side”.

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When was the last time you spent quality time in your hotel’s back areas and around the staff entrance and receiving area? Does your staff and receiving entrance reflect the same quality as your main entrance? I’m not saying it has to be full of chrome and gold and I certainly don’t expect a doorman, but what about signage, smartly dressed and customer-focused staff, and a welcoming smile? Here’s the thing: There’s a hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, part of a major international brand. I’ve never stayed there and perhaps, I never will but I’ll certainly recommend it to my friends and business contacts. Why? Simply, because the lady at the security office at the staff & supplier entrance is super friendly and smiles, and seems to treat everyone with respect. Also, when I get lost on the way to the accounts office (and I always appear to get lost there), there’s always a friendly team member who asks me whether I’m lost and where I want to go.

On the other hand, there’s an (probably) equally luxurious hotel on the same highway, a couple of clicks closer to the old part of town, that I’ve also never stayed in, but wouldn’t recommend, because they’re all smiles when I’m in their lobby drinking pricey coffee-based beverages, but the back is a mess and they make you feel like a high security prisoner on the way to the exercise yard when you come in to pick up a cheque — complete with having to shout at the general cashier through the tiniest glass window ever. I’m sure the glass is bullet proof, too. The last time I was there, random shoes were laying outside the staff changing room, and what was clearly an escape route was used as a storage area for random F&B equipment.

Perhaps I’m overly critical, but if your back area is a mess, what about the front areas? If it takes your man 10 minutes or more shifting unstable piles of paper to locate my cheque, how long will it take me to check in and out of your hotel? If your security guard’s uniform has clearly seen better days, what about your bed sheets?

You might be of the opinion that the majority of your suppliers will never stay with you or frequent your hotel’s restaurants or bars. You might be right, but there are always exceptions and I dare say you wouldn’t turn down a booking at your bar that’s come from a supplier.  I could be that supplier and it doesn’t even take much to impress me: A clean and well-lit staff or supplier entrance. A friendly person to ask me where I want to go and who doesn’t require me to fill in a form that asks for all my contact information, my shoe size, and what I had for dinner last night. Signs in the internal areas that tell me (or new staff members, by the way) where to go. Clean corridors and offices that don’t look like they’re the venue for the next “how high can you pile these documents?” competition. Oh, and a pen that’s as free as I am and not chained to your desk or counter. I’ve come to pick up a cheque, not steal your pens, you know.

Whatever you do: Keep calm and sort out your backdoor!

About the Author: Martin Kubler is the founder of Iconsulthotels and the CEO of sps:affinity. Iconsulthotels is now sps:hotels — a leading hotel management consultancy that provides its clients forward-looking business strategies, keeping them ahead of the market. Email: hello@spsaffinity.com.