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  • The Storyteller

Case Review: Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

At check-in, everything was efficient and personalised. 💖

It's subjective, I know - but we felt that the sense of Japanese-ness was lacking even from the Japanese staff: everyone seemed to have an American accent and the rather informal way of speaking (e.g. "Hi there!", "You guys have any plans this afternoon?", uniforms a tad too snug and clingy, a face full of make-up - although it was nicely done.

During the hotel and room orientation:

  • Employee was unsure of bar closing hours when asked, and yet without offering to check, she stated that it was "sometime after midnight", which turned out to be inaccurate. (Minus 1)

  • The same person informed that price of buffet breakfast was "about 3,000 yen". This was later verified by us to be 6,500 yen. (Minus 1)

  • We requested for a cable for our camera, but this was not sent until two days later when we called Guest Services to remind. (Minus 3)

During the stay:

  • When we informed Guest Services that their colleague had informed us the breakfast rate was 3,000 yen instead of 6,500 yen, the person simply remained silent and there was also no positive closing at the end of the call. (Minus 1)

  • Day 3: Housekeeping came by to check on our camera in order to determine the cable required. 15 minutes later, Ms. Costello - the one who had given us the hotel orientation on check-in day, knocked on the door to pass the wrong cable. When it was apparent it did not fit the device, she simply muttered, "Aww...Sorry but that's the only one we have." The lack of seamless collaboration led to much unnecessary delay, inconvenience and much frustration. (Minus 5)

  • Ms. Costello also added, "Oh, Housekeeping did not follow-up and get back to you? I had already informed them the first day." Never throw your colleagues under the bus, even if that was really the case. Stay professional. (Minus 3)

  • The Do Not Disturb sign was on when the same employee returned about 30 minutes later, ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door. I put my phone call on hold to open the door, and when I said that I had the DND sign on, she retorted with, "I'm sorry but I thought you might need the cable urgently. I managed to get these cable I.T department. Would these work?" (While I am appreciative that we finally had the right cable, the fact that the need for privacy was not respected, plus the lack of self-control as per LQA standard, plus the hassle created = Minus 5)

  • During turndown on Day 3, we received a small basket with jam, tea from the MO Gourmet Shop and an apology card from Ms. Costello as service recovery. 💖

  • Transactional encounters that lack positive emotions. For example, when requesting for late checkout, shoe shining and printing of documents. While information was given by employees, warmth was lacking and there was no further assistance offered in each of these interaction. (Minus 3 - one for each encounter)

  • Lack of timeliness: the shoes were picked up 30 minutes after the call and the printed documents were sent to the room more than an hour after we had left the room. Efficiency and professionalism compromised. (Minus 3)

During departure:

  • There was no asking about our stay, nor offering of luggage assistance or transport. The key emotion was truly one of being disappointed and feeling disconnected. (Minus 3)

Total Service Bank: Plus 2 💖 and Minus 28 = Net of negative 26

Reflective thoughts: The rooms may be luxurious, the restaurants and bars swanky with good quality food and drinks, but these do not outweigh the human component. Service excellence is delivered by people with the right aptitude, supported and driven by leaders committed to this cause. If your hotel claims to be 5-star, what is done to ensure it does not slip down to 4 and 3? (Please don't just quip "Training and Action Plans". Be more specific)

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