I came to a conference at Hotel Realm in ACT that congregates educators from all over Australia and overseas held at this hotel. On the third night, we decided with colleagues from Singapore to go for dinner at Ostani Lounge, Bar & Restaurant. We were sitting on the table, and when the waitress came to take our orders, I asked the need to split bills as we were from different institutions. The waitress with an attitude told us they don’t split bills. I told her if it is the case I will sit down on a separated table and I stand up and I was ready to move. She said she is going to talk to her manager. A few minutes later, she came and told me that the manager will split the bill, but they are not obliged to serve rude people. I asked the waitress I wanted to talk to the manager as there is always another side of the story. Basically, the manager (a young guy) who did not have the courtesy to greet me and tell me his name told me that they don’t split the bill and I have no choice. I told him I will leave the place and he was happy for me to do it. As an academic and participant at a conference catered at the venue he represents, I felt mistreated. I decided to go to the front desk and talked to the manager and asked for a complaint form and they did not have such a thing. He did not bother to try to solve the conflict, even if I told him I will disseminate this on social network.
For Australians who experienced life outside Australia and the quality of customers services, for example in the USA, this is not acceptable. I felt the restaurant was doing me a favour to split the bill, a favour to take my institution’s money in exchange for a poor service. What is wrong with the hospitality system in Australia? Do they need to learn maths? Or are they too lazy to accommodate clients needs? Regrettably, this is our culture, but I do believe we can change the way hospitality operate disseminating your complaints against poor customer service experiences. That is why I decided to write this post. This unacceptable behaviour happened before to other colleagues of mine in Sydney and Melbourne.
My view is that as the official venue for the conference Ostani Bar (Hotel Realm) should accommodate the needs of educators that come from different places and institutions. I currently have a corporative card that is meant to be used to pay for my expenses when I am away. Is this hard to understand?
Maybe I am biased as I worked in hospitality before when I was a student in the USA and in customer service, and I delivered an outstanding service to my clients. In Australia, there is no such attitude, especially in hospitality, but hey, we can change the way they operate. At the end of the day, they live with the money we paid for the food and services they offered. Waitress/waiters should be trained to learn basic maths and learn how to split bills. Managers should be trained to deal with unsatisfied customers, It is part of the customer service experience, don’t you think? As a client, you want to feel valued, appreciated.
I will take the opportunity to reflect on the facilities of the hotel for conferences. In a nutshell, I won't recommend anyone to hire this venue for an event for the following reasons:
- Elevators are very slow, and you need to have an access card. The operators had 1 card per floor that he/she needs to scan every time someone needs to use the elevator to go to a conference room
- Some conference rooms were on the floors where people hire as accommodation, which means you go to Level 7 and if you needed to use the toilet, you will need to go to the low level
- Some conference rooms have an improvised TV connected to an old computer, and the screen resolution was not appropriately displayed
- The presenter (remote control) was running out of batteries on day 2, and nobody seemed to care.
- There were not appropriated signs to follow the rooms you meant to go
- Some rooms were located in another building, they have shocking old fashion restaurant chairs and a low-quality projector with an old computer that distort the fonts and made it hard to read the PowerPoint
- The male toilets have the hand dryer machines so close to the entrance, so you need to be careful getting in and not to touch other people as the entrance was narrow.
- The food was not impressive, lack variety and lack of hot dishes.
- On Wednesday afternoon, while we were at a session on Level 7, we heard a woman shouting, then a loud noise and suddenly the alarms were on. We need it to go down from the stairs and after, nobody explained to us what happened.
As usual, I am not scared to express my ideas clearly. Just bear in mind, this is my personal view and is not linked to the institution I belong.