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  #41  
Old 22.05.2015, 18:27
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

I've been here 6 years now and have stayed in plenty of hotels, mainly in ski resorts granted, but also several times in Geneva.

I can't remember a single hotel that is worthy of a horror story. This is in everything from family run b&b to five star. Maybe I just have low standards, but generally rooms and facilities have been in line with the price paid (comparing hotels against each other in CH). I guess sometimes the rooms have been a little bit worn, but so long as the bed is comfortable and the room clean... Service has always been polite and helpful and at owner operated businesses in particular very friendly.

IMO the biggest challenge for the Swiss hotel industry is that the same quality can be achieved for less and with cheaper ancillary costs eg going out for dinner or drinks by gong over the border in any direction. It's difficult for Swiss hoteliers to reduce their prices too much though, given their costs are all in CHF.
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Old 22.05.2015, 18:28
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

In my experience the small family hotels are great hosts when you are there.

But that's probably part of the issue - when the family are busy actually seeing to guests from 6am to midnight, there's just no time to check email.

And often the small hotels here really are small and really are run by just a family; in the UK they'd be called a B&B or guest house !
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  #43  
Old 22.05.2015, 19:01
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I think that with those Hotels it really is best to call. A lot of them only really have a Webpage because they were more or less forced to have one. I am not saying it's perfect that way but I think that with those it's easiest to either book trough booking.com or others if they are on that site witch will send you receipt etc. quickly or to call them and have them email a confirmation.


Someone mentionned it before on this thread but it's really true. Swiss people (myself included) are not very "digital". If I need some information other than opening hours I always call. Also all reservations for tables at restaurants or other services like car dealer etc. I will always do by phone. It might as well be a cultural think really but I prefer to talk to a person and not to talk through a Computer. Hope you know what I mean.
I don't know if this is just Swiss. On my last UK trip I booked into 2 B&Bs, both of which had a website but not an online booking form so I had to phone. Where's the big deal? The digital age seems to have made people afraid to talk face to face. If I want to hide behind the anonymity of my computer screen, why bother to travel at all?
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  #44  
Old 22.05.2015, 19:20
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I don't know if this is just Swiss. On my last UK trip I booked into 2 B&Bs, both of which had a website but not an online booking form so I had to phone. Where's the big deal? The digital age seems to have made people afraid to talk face to face. If I want to hide behind the anonymity of my computer screen, why bother to travel at all?
Because, finally, and very often:
  • I am usually booking hotels when I actually have time to do it - and usually that means very unsocial hours. I doubt the lucky hotel family that ends up being chosen will appreciate me calling at 1'oclock past midnight...
  • I am quite rarely end up going to the same hotel. I usually prefer to go to new destinations. I am not really looking to establish a relationship with the hotel owners. I just want to go there, and hopefully get the service that was advertised and that I pay for
Sure, that doesn't make me the ideal hotel customer, but since we're no longer in the 70's I suspect I'm not in a minority anymore...
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  #45  
Old 22.05.2015, 19:21
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I've been here 6 years now and have stayed in plenty of hotels, mainly in ski resorts granted, but also several times in Geneva.

I can't remember a single hotel that is worthy of a horror story. This is in everything from family run b&b to five star. Maybe I just have low standards, but generally rooms and facilities have been in line with the price paid (comparing hotels against each other in CH). I guess sometimes the rooms have been a little bit worn, but so long as the bed is comfortable and the room clean... Service has always been polite and helpful and at owner operated businesses in particular very friendly.

IMO the biggest challenge for the Swiss hotel industry is that the same quality can be achieved for less and with cheaper ancillary costs eg going out for dinner or drinks by gong over the border in any direction. It's difficult for Swiss hoteliers to reduce their prices too much though, given their costs are all in CHF.

I am not talking about price reduction: wanting to do business in the first place, answering enquiries and giving even half a smile...is that too much asking?
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  #46  
Old 22.05.2015, 19:32
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I am not talking about price reduction: wanting to do business in the first place, answering enquiries and giving even half a smile...is that too much asking?
I forgot to mention actually, unless it was a groupon or similar, I always use booking.com, so no issues on the booking side. Perhaps that's the issue - the more enlightened hoteliers use online aggregators and the grumpy marking time til death places don't want your business as they are happy dealing with Uli who has been visiting for generations and rebooks on departure?

I've had no issues with a lack of smiles, granted not American levels though, but it doesn't feel like they are reading off a script either.
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  #47  
Old 22.05.2015, 19:49
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I forgot to mention actually, unless it was a groupon or similar, I always use booking.com, so no issues on the booking side. Perhaps that's the issue - the more enlightened hoteliers use online aggregators and the grumpy marking time til death places don't want your business as they are happy dealing with Uli who has been visiting for generations and rebooks on departure?

I've had no issues with a lack of smiles, granted not American levels though, but it doesn't feel like they are reading off a script either.

I did not come to Switzerland for the Happy Clappy Brigade, so ok there, but something even like this would be nice.
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Old 22.05.2015, 19:55
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I forgot to mention actually, unless it was a groupon or similar, I always use booking.com, so no issues on the booking side. Perhaps that's the issue - the more enlightened hoteliers use online aggregators and the grumpy marking time til death places don't want your business as they are happy dealing with Uli who has been visiting for generations and rebooks on departure?
Most of the bookings I've made in CH have been through booking.com. There weren't real problems with the booking per se, but every time I went to the hotel with a booking.com reservation the tone suddenly turned sour... as I was somehow at fault. Remarks like "Oh, I see you've booked through booking.com" or even better: "I can't find your booking.... did you book through booking.com by any chance?". Twice I had to argue about the price when the bill was higher than what was booked through the site.

I think even those later swiss hoteliers you mention have now to use booking.com - but do so very reluctantly, as it obviously makes it easier for travellers to compare prices, read reviews, etc. And frankly, when some of them are asking more than 200chf per night with pixelated pictures of an old room with dark green bathtub and one can easily compare that with what you get elsewhere it's no wonder booking.com is not that popular
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  #49  
Old 22.05.2015, 21:50
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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Most of the bookings I've made in CH have been through booking.com. There weren't real problems with the booking per se, but every time I went to the hotel with a booking.com reservation the tone suddenly turned sour... as I was somehow at fault. Remarks like "Oh, I see you've booked through booking.com" or even better: "I can't find your booking.... did you book through booking.com by any chance?". Twice I had to argue about the price when the bill was higher than what was booked through the site.

I think even those later swiss hoteliers you mention have now to use booking.com - but do so very reluctantly, as it obviously makes it easier for travellers to compare prices, read reviews, etc. And frankly, when some of them are asking more than 200chf per night with pixelated pictures of an old room with dark green bathtub and one can easily compare that with what you get elsewhere it's no wonder booking.com is not that popular
I've had the did you book through booking.com question a few times. Can't specifically remember if it was in CH or not though. I think the real reason they don't like booking.com is because the hotel pays 15% of the room cost if you use them. Clearly the owners don't like this, but 85% is better than nothing and realistically 95% of new business these days is going to come from an online presence of some sort - either an aggregator or search engine optimization.

By going direct, rather than via booking.com, I now get a 20-25% discount on a chalet I rent in Verbier for a long weekend every year, but the initial price I got n booking.com was lower than their own website. This I have found a lot and cannot understand.
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Old 22.05.2015, 21:57
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I've had the did you book through booking.com question a few times. Can't specifically remember if it was in CH or not though. I think the real reason they don't like booking.com is because the hotel pays 15% of the room cost if you use them. Clearly the owners don't like this, but 85% is better than nothing and realistically 95% of new business these days is going to come from an online presence of some sort - either an aggregator or search engine optimization.

By going direct, rather than via booking.com, I now get a 20-25% discount on a chalet I rent in Verbier for a long weekend every year, but the initial price I got n booking.com was lower than their own website. This I have found a lot and cannot understand.
The likes of booking.com and hotels.com also offer even higher discounts to fill rooms and the hoteliers take that hit too. Speaking to one last week and he was happy to match booking.com on price if we wanted to go back. They are great intro sites but if you ask chances are you'll get an equally good deal from them directly.
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Old 23.05.2015, 00:03
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

I simply go always to Austria. Cheaper, great standards and excellent customer service. Lakes and mountains are equally nice

Sad in Ticino. Lake Como or Lago Maggiore as beautiful as Lugano, Locarno and so on. Good food, cheaper and a nice espresso.
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Old 09.06.2015, 14:41
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

Same here, going to Austria where I feel that it is the employee's honest desire to see a guest happy and content. In Switzerland, even if sometimes nothing to complain about, you still just feel that they are doing their duty, nothing more.
Going the extra mile is an unknown concept here to which a Swiss hospitality employee would respond "Excuse me? What? Why should I? It's not like he is paying me extra!"

You can get great service in Switzerland in the luxury segment (from my experience at various 5* places on business trips). And it is not without reason that some of the world's best hospitality schools are based in CH. But you do have to pay a premium for that and I would assume that luxury is luxury across the globe. So no USP for Switzerland...
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  #53  
Old 09.06.2015, 14:55
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I've had the did you book through booking.com question a few times. Can't specifically remember if it was in CH or not though. I think the real reason they don't like booking.com is because the hotel pays 15% of the room cost if you use them. Clearly the owners don't like this, but 85% is better than nothing and realistically 95% of new business these days is going to come from an online presence of some sort - either an aggregator or search engine optimization.

By going direct, rather than via booking.com, I now get a 20-25% discount on a chalet I rent in Verbier for a long weekend every year, but the initial price I got n booking.com was lower than their own website. This I have found a lot and cannot understand.
I'm just back from a vacation in Greece and the hotel manager there was a bit grumpy about me having used booking.com and said next time use booking.com to chose a hotel but always book directly. So maybe the cut booking.com takes is a real issue for some.

I was also in a hotel in Spain once that I hadn't booked through booking.com but through another online agent. I think it was Thomas Cook. I was already suspicious at the time of booking because the hotel's own website had said there were no rooms available and booking.com said there were no rooms available but Thomas Cook said there were. So I booked with them. On arrival it turned out that there were indeed no rooms available so they graciously put us into another more expensive hotel at no extra cost but not without a lot of under the breath swearing about the booking system. They told us the booking systems sometimes continue to list rooms after they have been manually deleted. I don't know whether this is true or whether they were trying to cover for their own incompetence.

So I guess many do use booking.com because that's where people look for them, but that things are not roses from the hotel's point of view.
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Old 09.06.2015, 16:19
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

An interesting article on the out trade between what tourists and the tourism industry see as important, from the 20Minuten:

http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/zentrals...chaft-20828158

A study by the University of Lucerne looked at the order of importance various factors played when tourists consider a booking, and looked at how the tourism industry views those same factors.

It won't come as a surprise to many posters on this thread to learn that the tourism industry underestimates the importance of 'Gastfreundschaft'.
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Old 09.06.2015, 16:22
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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An interesting article on the out trade between what tourists and the tourism industry see as important, from the 20Minuten:

http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/zentrals...chaft-20828158

A study by the University of Lucerne looked at the order of importance various factors played when tourists consider a booking, and looked at how the tourism industry views those same factors.

It won't come as a surprise to many posters on this thread to learn that the tourism industry underestimates the importance of 'Gastfreundschaft'.
I think there is a difference between what people say in a survey and what they actually do. If people hark on about service and hospitality but then gravitate to the cheapest price no matter what, hotel owners will eventually take the hint and follow their customers' desires.

Having said that, the hospitality industry is not very good at understanding what its customers want. Their whole handling of the smoking issue should be sufficient proof of that.
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Old 09.06.2015, 16:55
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I think there is a difference between what people say in a survey and what they actually do. If people hark on about service and hospitality but then gravitate to the cheapest price no matter what, hotel owners will eventually take the hint and follow their customers' desires.
I will follow this up with an example:
It is lovely to turn up in reception of a hotel, hand your car keys to the head valet who assigns a valet and porter. The porter taking your bags and the valet parking your car. To then be greated by concierge, then ushered to check-in by a bell-boy. The receptionists will guide you through check-in, process your card and then the bell boy will show you to your room. Once at the room the bell boy will show you round and help the porter bring your bags into the room.

The process takes each functional staff member 10 minutes (valet, porter, bell boy, receptionist) - and say you have 100 rooms to check in - with it all that happening in 5 hours - you need 4 people per role to ensure the process is complete. So that is 16 people + 1 manager for each group = 20 + concierge = 21

21 people working an 8 hour shift @ 25chf per hour = 4,200chf per day - or 42 chf per room per stay.

Repeat the process in the US and @ 6usd per hour = 1,008usd per day - or 10 usd per room per stay.

With labour costs so high, if you want good, attentive and personalised service in Switzerland you better be prepared to pay for it.
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Old 09.06.2015, 17:09
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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I will follow this up with an example:
It is lovely to turn up in reception of a hotel, hand your car keys to the head valet who assigns a valet and porter. The porter taking your bags and the valet parking your car. To then be greated by concierge, then ushered to check-in by a bell-boy. The receptionists will guide you through check-in, process your card and then the bell boy will show you to your room. Once at the room the bell boy will show you round and help the porter bring your bags into the room.

The process takes each functional staff member 10 minutes (valet, porter, bell boy, receptionist) - and say you have 100 rooms to check in - with it all that happening in 5 hours - you need 4 people per role to ensure the process is complete. So that is 16 people + 1 manager for each group = 20 + concierge = 21

21 people working an 8 hour shift @ 25chf per hour = 4,200chf per day - or 42 chf per room per stay.

Repeat the process in the US and @ 6usd per hour = 1,008usd per day - or 10 usd per room per stay.

With labour costs so high, if you want good, attentive and personalised service in Switzerland you better be prepared to pay for it.
To me, a parking valet or a porter is very much the negative side of the US focus on service - it's people doing what i'd rather do myself and could probably do better myself (I'm a bit touchy about other people having their fingers on my stuff) while expecting a tip for it and being sour if they get less than they expect. To me that's not service, that's over-lavishing through figleaf gestures.

Friendly service is about the receptionist being situationally aware by for example offering to help if it appears I might be confused, telling me what I need to know rather than slavishly rattling off some corporate aproved dialogue, then, when I come down after first going to my room asking if everything is to my satisfaction (and offering solutions rather than excuses if it isn't), answering questions of local interest (which requires actually knowing things which sets an experienced receptionist apart from a college kid doing a summer job). These are the type of things that to me are good service and I don't think they actually cost very much.
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Old 09.06.2015, 17:24
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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So I guess many do use booking.com because that's where people look for them, but that things are not roses from the hotel's point of view.
Well, I don't really buy that... The issue here is not booking.com but competition. Nothing prevents the hotels to put their rates on booking.com at 15% higher - and some do! Don't moan to your customer that he booked through a service you willingly agreed to... Times are changing - if you want customers be prepared to fight your presence on the net, and compete fair and square...

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21 people working an 8 hour shift @ 25chf per hour = 4,200chf per day - or 42 chf per room per stay.

Repeat the process in the US and @ 6usd per hour = 1,008usd per day - or 10 usd per room per stay.

With labour costs so high, if you want good, attentive and personalised service in Switzerland you better be prepared to pay for it.
I suspect as mentioned the majority of complaints actually come from the middle of the market downwards where the issue of porter, concierge and bell-boy don't really apply.

Most of my experience in the 3-star sector relates to midde-to-late-aged staff sitting on their arse at the reception desk the whole day with no-one around, while in the hotel cobwebs are growing and carpets smell of damp as nobody bothers to at least open the windows from time to time to freshen up the rooms.

And if I put that in contrast with the quality and service and value for money you get from the typical B&B/small family hotel all around Great Britain, I really don't find an excuse for what one finds here. Labour costs don't justify it at all, GB is expensive too.
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Old 09.06.2015, 17:31
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

It's telling that the tourist industry put "Countryside" and "Local Activities" top - two very important items they can do nothing about, while hospitality and food are low on their list!

Interesting validation of management theory - typical behaviours by inward looking incumbent managers, rather than growth and improvement focused ones.
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Old 09.06.2015, 18:04
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Re: The Swiss hotel industry deserves what it gets

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Friendly service is about the receptionist being situationally aware by for example offering to help if it appears I might be confused
Shouldn't your carer be doing that?
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