Comment: Continuous failure

It’s time to make new mistakes!

Opinion, Columnists, Martin kubler, Social media, Engagement

What’s your opinion of “failure”? I have a love-hate relationship with failure. I strongly believe that it is important to fail, but I also despair at people making the same mistakes over and over again.

There is no value in continuously making the same mistakes.

If mistakes are good for anything, it is to teach you important lessons, but this only works if you creatively and consistently fail forward. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Make a new mistake!

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Alas, looking at the social and digital activities of hotels and restaurants in the region, I often suspect that there are a number of masochistically inclined companies out there, who prefer to be stuck in a Groundhog Day-like cycle of repeating the same mistakes rather than mustering up enough energy and creativity to make new mistakes. Also, a gentle reminder that it’s 2018 and some mistakes are simply too old to make at all.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here are just a few things that continuously bug me:

Let’s start with marketing emails and email lists. I’m willing to overlook emails that aren’t overly targeted, but please let them at least have good images and text.

If you don’t know the maximum image width your email marketing platform allows, take a second or two to look it up, and then create images that fit perfectly. If you need to re-size an image, please do so proportionally – otherwise it looks stretched and like your dog has chewed it a few times and then spit it out again.

Oh, and while you’re in your email marketing platform: check the names on your email lists and make sure all the lists you use have professional-sounding names. Usually, the recipients of your emails won’t see what your email list is called, but they will do if they unsubscribe.

Recently, I unsubscribed from an email list only to find that it was called ‘Junk Enduser List’. I have also seen lists called ‘Difficult Customers’ and ‘Random Muppets’. I kid you not. Yes, I’m leaving your list, but then seeing that you called me ‘difficult’, a ‘junk user’ or a ‘clown’ certainly doesn’t make me want to re-subscribe any time soon. It’s the little touches that show your professionalism.

Along similar lines, I often marvel at the file names of attachments I receive by email. Yes, most senders now get it right and give their attachments meaningful names, e.g. ‘Booking Confirmation #59873’ rather than just ‘Booking Confirmation’, but why not add a little something to it and make things more welcoming and personalised? It costs no money and only a second or two of your time to take things to the next level – ‘Booking Confirmation #59873 – We’re looking forward to welcoming you!’, for example.

Are you wasting time stating the obvious or trying to get me to do things that are just plain stupid?

Every time a hotel puts up an image on their Instagram account and then asks you, either via overlaid text or in the image caption, to ‘follow us on Instagram’, a fluffy little social media executive out there dies a painful death. I can see your post, which means that I must be following you already. It’s the equivalent of you walking into the Mercedes showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road and the sales executive screaming at you “Buy a Mercedes!”. Why else would I have walked into the showroom, you blithering broomstick?! To buy a Honda Accord?

QR codes, luckily, appear to be on the way out, but there’s a new breed of scannable codes, such as Facebook Messenger codes, Snapchat codes and Instagram codes. Scannable codes look nifty and save time, but posting one on your Instagram timeline exposes you as a ‘noob’. How do 90% of all people look at Instagram? Via their mobile phones, of course. What do I need to scan the code you posted on your timeline? My phone, of course. Please give me a minute while I buy a second phone to scan your code that I’m looking at on my first phone.

Same old, same old: I know generating fresh and engaging content for your various social media channels is hard, but what is it they say? “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!”

In this spirit, the next time I see a post about your lobby café that talks about coffee being a ‘hug in a mug’ or your new seafood night a la “Can you see food?”, I’m going to yawn. Extensively. It’s been done. Not once, not twice, but literally a thousand times and more. If you can’t think of something new, hire someone who can.

I’ll leave you with another classic. I call this the “We don’t care what channel you message us on, we’ll always ask you to send us an email” trick.

It works like this: I’ll message you on your Facebook page and get a reply along the lines of, “Please let us know your email address, so we can send you the information you asked for.” If I wanted to receive the information by email, I would have emailed you. The fact that I’m contacting you via Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, a Wifi-enabled microwave, etc.) probably means that I’d like to hear back from you on the same platform.

You’ll never hear Jono on Dubai 92 say “That’s grand, folks, if you want to hear the news, switch over to Virgin Radio now!”

Whatever you do: Fail forward!

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.

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