First impressions count, and for the UK hotel and restaurant industry it's the details such as clean cutlery, fresh linen, and friendly staff that win customer satisfaction, according to a national survey commissioned by P&G Professional.
The survey from P&G Professional (the 'away from home' business division of Procter & Gamble UK) aimed to gauge customer satisfaction with cleaning and service standards when staying or eating away from home.
"Most people are aware of the importance of cleanliness in their homes, and so when they are paying to eat out or stay in a hotel they naturally expect as good as or even better attention to these details," said Dean Keeling, marketing manager for P&G Professional. However, the survey suggests that these impressions impact not only the reputation but the future success of a restaurant or hotel.
"Nowadays when chefs are celebrities and many restaurant and hotel chains have strong brands, the customers experience starts with their expectations and includes the location, the entrance, the ambience, the atmosphere, and even the other diners, as well as the menu and the food," explained Keeling. "It takes years of hard work to build the reputation of a hotel or restaurant, while one lapse in cleanliness and hygiene can be catastrophic."
The survey asked consumers who had recently stayed in a hotel or visited a restaurant about their first impressions, and which details they noticed that proved to be 'make or break' for their enjoyment and consequent likelihood to recommend the establishment to a friend. The survey found that:
- The cleanliness of cutlery and crockery (90%) is seen as the most important factor in building a restaurant's reputation - even above the quality of the food (89%).
- Helpful staff (93%) is rated as the top factor affecting the enjoyment of a restaurant - more than twice as important as menu choice (44%).
- Some 81% of diners will definitely be put off returning to a restaurant if their glass is dirty, and 87% will complain instantly.
- Some 82% will definitely be put off returning if the restaurant's toilets are not up to the expected standard.
- The most important problem that puts people off returning to a restaurant is a glimpse of a dirty kitchen area (91%).
- Upon entering a hotel room for the first time, the first thing the majority of people will do is check the cleanliness of the bathroom (92%) and the sheets (67%) - and then women said they tend to also check the cupboards (56%), while men relax and make a drink (59%) and turn on the radio or TV (49%).
- 82% of people said that smell is something they would notice immediately on entering their hotel room, and 79% of women state that a bad smell will definitely put them off their stay.
How much advocacy?
Overall, women tended to be much less tolerant of lack of attention to details of cleanliness, apart from in the hotel's buffet area where an overwhelming 97% of men said they would be put off if it is dirty.
When it comes to recommending the establishment to a friend, more than half would communicate a bad restaurant experience (66%) and most would talk about a bad hotel stay (76%).