Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guest Experiences

For a team-building exercise yesterday, I had to describe my best and worst guest experiences (for us all to learn from), and I thought I’d share mine here.


Boarding the ship for a Carnival cruise. It didn’t seem to matter that the crew did this every week, or that they’d been away from their families for months and thousands of miles. They all had smiles on their faces and acted as excited about this cruise as we were. I think they’d been trained to remember that while this was not their first day on a cruise, it was ours, and we were the guests.
Our bags were whisked away. A dance party was starting on the Lido deck. The music was blaring, the drinks were flowing, and we were immediately on vacation even though our boat hadn’t even left port. There was a towel animal on our bed and a list of activities to keep us entertained.
I must say, Carnival did everything right in getting us into a festive mood.

Then there’s THE WORST:

Who could resist this face?
This smile is worth standing in line for an hour.
The worst guest I experience I’ve ever had was at the Galeries Lafayette  in Paris, France. The bad customer service there still boggles my mind.
We’d promised my daughter that she could pick our activities for a day since she’s been such a good sport about traipsing through art museums and historic buildings and things that probably weren’t as much fun for a kid as they were for us. So she chose a day of shopping. She’d saved her own money and was looking forward to going to the biggest department store in Paris: Galeries Lafayette.
We found a cute bathing suit for her (despite the lack of help from any sales assistants) and cheerfully went up to the counter to complete the purchase. We stood in line until it was our turn. The clerk told us that we were at the wrong counter, then pointed us to another counter about 30 feet away. We shrugged and went over there, but when the clerk finally looked up, she said she was closed and that we’d have to take it to another counter. She pointed. We trekked off to the next register, stood in line, and were again directed to take our purchase elsewhere. It happened again and again. I was getting REALLY frustrated. It was getting ridiculous – would no one at this store take our money???
If it hadn’t been my daughter’s “day” I would have left, but this was her outing and we were buying this Parisian swimsuit for her, so I continued moving to the end of each new line, wondering when someone would finally take our money. I think it took 7 attempts and we were, by that time, on another floor in a hideously long line of other dismissed customers.
We stuck with it that day, but I will NEVER go back. I like to think I’m a fairly patient person, but they tested that theory a little too much.


  1. We had similarly wonderful experiences with customer service on our Carnival Cruise a couple years ago. Maybe because their whole operation depends on experience, whereas the department store is selling *things*?

    (I'm not saying I agree with that mentality; just saying it might be a factor.)

  2. Yes, Carnival definitely promotes a positive guest experience attitude. I think any sector that serves the public should focus on good customer service. I think America focuses on it more than some other countries, so I've gotten used to good customer service when people want my business. Maybe France hasn't caught on? ;)