Where Apex Hotels are going wrong

This blog is in danger of turning into the Hotel Inspector! That’s not the plan, it’s just that lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in hotels and, well, there are just so many things that you observe when you’re there!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve stayed in both Park Inn (you can read my post about that experience here) and CitizenM. I’ll be writing about CitizenM soon.


On Tuesday afternoon last week I met my friend Karen Slupinski for coffee in the Apex Hotel in Dundee. The plan was to have a catch-up there before we went to a Chamber of Commerce training event with the amazing Dawn Walton that evening.

We sat patiently in the hotel lounge for a good 10 minutes, but none of the staff seemed interested in coming and taking a drinks order. I’ve had this happen here before. So eventually I went up to the bar and called the attention of a member of staff. He slowly wandered over from the area where he’d been slicing lemons (!) and asked what I would like. I gave him our order, and the coffee arrived a short while later (without any fudge or a wee biscuit).

So he had prioritised slicing lemons over serving guests. I had a similar experience recently when I was a participant at one of Chris Marr’s workshops. Once we finally found the room (the internal hotel signage is not good and people frequently get lost), the course got underway. I have to say that the snacks and food were amazing, however there were a couple of issues.

Firstly, no-one could find the control for the TV. This was a problem as we wanted to run the presentation on it! Apparently there is only one control for all of the meeting rooms…..

Secondly, at precisely 9.38am, someone started hoovering in the lobby outside the room. Really???

Now don’t get me wrong, the Apex is a nice hotel. It’s just that they’re failing at all the little things that we, as customers, notice. None of which cost a lot of money, but which, if done well, make a massive difference to the customer experience.

I read a blog post recently which said that the vast majority of customer experiences are very boring, where there are very few opportunities to shine and ‘wow’ the customer. Hotels are a wonderful environment to get this kind of thing right.

I always come back to CitizenM. On Saturday when we checked in, we happened to mention that we were in Glasgow to celebrate Joanna’s birthday. A couple of minutes later, the guy we spoke to returned with a voucher for two drinks on the house. A nice little touch. That’s the difference.

It wouldn’t take much for the Apex to turn this around. My feeling is that staff are more focused on the jobs they have to do, than in delivering an excpetional customer experience. It’s a subtle, but important difference.

I’ve sent them my thoughts a couple of times, so it will be interesting to see if they’re prepared to listen. I’ll keep you posted!

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