Customer Service Lessons From Vision Expo West

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Lessons from Vision Expo West….(before ever entering the show)

As business people we take lessons from all sorts of things in our lives. Allow me to share some of my experiences staying at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas during Vision Expo West in September and how they can be learning tools. I’ve stayed at the Flamingo numerous times. It is reasonably priced and not too far from the Sands Convention Center and the Venetian Hotel Suites.  This year however, I notice a marked decline in the hotel.


The elevators have a brass finish like many in Las Vegas. However, they are scratched with initials and small graffiti. The fact that the management of the hotel has not seen fit to buff out these markings only encourages others to add their marks to the walls of the elevators or to leave trash in the elevators thinking no one really cares. This sort of harkens back to Rudy Guliani’s first years as mayor of New York City. He knew that broken windows in vacant properties only encouraged vandals to break more windows or worse become a haven for squatters. By forcing building owners to keep their buildings in good repair, NYC was able to reduce that sort of crime. Were management of the Flamingo to adopt a similar repair immediately policy, there would be far less vandalism and trash in the elevators. Cleanliness promotes cleanliness. If your office is piled with trash, your employees have little incentive to keep their store(s) clean.


I went downstairs to get breakfast before the start of the show. While there were only at most a dozen tables occupied, there was a line of several people to get into the restaurant. I asked the hostess why there was a wait and was told the other waitress was stuck in traffic. Of course I mentioned to the hostess that she shouldn’t concentrate so much on folding napkins and roll up her sleeves to help. Needless to say I didn’t make a friend with that suggestion. I and others in line turned and went elsewhere for breakfast. What do you think a waiter or waitress is paid by the hotel in Las Vegas? $4 an hour? $5? What do they charge for breakfast? $10? $15? One extra person on staff would only have to serve half a meal every hour to pay their salary. Some bean counter cut staffing so close they have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Business is down, so we will cut staff to save money”. Yes, business is down because they didn’t have the staff to care for the people wanting to spend money with them. I for one, ate elsewhere on my way to show, giving my money to another hotel along the way. While your practice surely pays more per hour than a restaurant, are you staffed adequately enough to care for customers who come in? Or are you chasing them away by having them wait too long to be serviced?


When I checked out of the hotel at the end of the show, the desk clerk asked me how my stay was.  Lesson 1, don’t ask a question you don’t want answered. I relayed the complaints I’ve outlined above as well as several others. I told her I come to Las Vegas every year for Vision Expo. She was polite and apologized for the condition of the hotel, my room, and the restaurants. Knowing I come at least once a year, she had a perfect opportunity to ensure my return to the Flamingo and blew it. I gave her the knowledge that I spend at least 3 nights there at least once a year. Knowledge is power, but only if she were truly listening and not just going through the motions of her job. She told me that the hotel was remodeling starting in November. That in and of itself surely isn’t enough to turn my dissatisfaction with my recent experience around. What if she had offered me a free night on my trip to Vision Expo West next year? More than likely knowing they were working on some of my concerns and would have bought 1 of my 3 nights there, would be enough to make me strongly consider them next year, where they would have a wonderful opportunity to earn my loyalty by making sure I was happy with my stay in 2012 enough to warrant a return again in 2013. That one night discount could very easily turn into 5 or 6 nights of paid room reservations. Without that offer, I am free to look elsewhere….and in Las Vegas, there are plenty of elsewhere’s. If you have a disgruntled patient, do you offer to not only make things right on this pair of glasses, but offer some sort of deal to ensure a return trip on their next pair?

What do your travel experiences teach you about how to run your business?

Submitted by Dan Feldman, Daniel Feldman, is CEO of dba Communications, an advertising, marketing,  web design and social networking firm specializing in eye care practices. For more information visit the dba Communications website at 303.370.7083