Steve’s Peeves: Travel edition
Steve’s Peeves: Travel edition
15 AUGUST 2019 7:19 AM

A light-hearted series highlighting the small details that hotels should get right—but all too often get wrong.

I’ve written in this space before about how much the details matter in the hospitality business.

When it comes to the guest experience, small moments add up to something big. That can be a good thing—a helpful concierge, a memorably tasty dish, or a cold drink and a warm breeze by the pool after a long day—but it can also be a bad thing. It doesn’t take much for a small moment to ruin an otherwise positive experience. Curdled milk in your after-dinner coffee can make you forget a delicious meal awfully quickly.

When it comes to great service and great hospitality, “most of the time” just isn’t good enough. “Usually” won’t cut it. This is the second installment about the little details that too many hospitality providers get wrong.

As hoteliers, we are in the business of cultivating great experiences. At Prism, we’re a hotel management company—not an airline or a ride-sharing app—but when you get right down to it, there are a lot of commonalities in terms of service and hospitality. Whether you’re up in the air, on the road or checking in to your hotel, details and consideration matter, and there are lessons that travel and hotel providers can learn from each other about paying attention and creating a great experience.

It’s also worth noting that many of our guests arrive at our place of business after traveling through airports and sitting on planes and in ride-shares, and if we can empathize with their difficult travel experience, we can inevitably provide them with a greater sense of hospitality.

While I usually have plenty of ammunition from my own personal experiences, I thought it would be fun to hear from several of the folks here at Prism. Hearing their (in some cases all-too-familiar) travel “peeves” made me chuckle—and made me think about our business—and I hope it does the same for you.

So here it is: Steve’s Peeves: Travel edition:

  • “Flight attendants having loud conversations between themselves on a late or overnight flight. Can’t sleep when all I can hear is social chatter.” (Steve Van)
  • “Inexperienced travelers in the airport security line who don’t read the instructional signs or listen to the blaring announcements. ‘Oh, I need to take off my shoes?’ ‘Yes, I do have a laptop in my bag!’ ‘You mean I have to remove this iron breastplate?’” (Michael Van)
  • “People crowding around the gate who are in boarding groups 8 and 9, blocking the path for anyone else in front of them to board. One solution would be to have people stand by group and to not charge for checked bags. Kudos to Southwest on this one, who already has it figured out.” (Paul Mengacci)
  • “People who don’t allow others to exit the plane in an orderly fashion. Especially when it involves pushing and shoving. Everyone has somewhere to be. Wait your turn.” (Tasha Houck)
  • “Being forced to squeeze into tiny airline seats that seem to be shrinking every year. And, if you’re unlucky enough to be assigned the middle seat, it just gets worse.” (Victoria Wilson)
  • “When the airline announces at the gate that the flight is full, yet there are still people sitting in aisle/window seats putting their carry-ons on the middle seat in an attempt to keep someone else from sitting there. Hello, the flight is full. Now we all have to wait for you to clear the seat for another passenger at the slowest pace possible because you're bitter.” (Allie Schneider)
  • “The inconsistency of aircraft amenities is puzzling. Every McDonalds I go to will have the same menu. Every Hampton Inn I stay at will have a free breakfast. So why does my flight to LAX have WiFi and movies, but the return leg on the same airline has neither? (Meagan Ray)
  • “When your seatmate on your flight is using the time to attend to personal grooming. No, it’s simply not appropriate to clip your nails, remove your ear wax or scratch at the scab on your scalp.” (Allison Handy)
  • “Just give me the whole can of soda, for Pete’s sake!” (Charles Fusco)
  • “The person who doesn’t put their laptop and electronics away the first time they are asked. No, that last email isn’t worth wasting every else’s time having to stop and wait for you to put it away. And the disregard for using them when taking off and landing—personally I would prefer the airplane’s instruments to not have interference…you know, the ones we may need to land.” (Tisha Warner)

I’m not sure whether you’re laughing or crying right now—maybe a little of both—but I think it’s pretty dang fascinating that so much of these peeves are so relatable and familiar to me.

As hospitality professionals, these are exactly the kinds of situations we need to be aware of—and constantly working to fix. It’s that kind of attention to detail, commitment to quality at all times, and willingness to put ourselves in our guest’s shoes that creates consistently superb service and extraordinary hospitality experiences. It leads to repeat business and positive word of mouth. And it helps build the kind of pervasive culture of service and hospitality that has a meaningful and sustainable impact on the bottom line. And that is most definitely not a small thing: it’s a very big deal.

Steve Van, president and CEO of Prism Hotels & Resorts, founded the Dallas-based company in 1983. Under his leadership, Prism has become an award-winning full-service hotel management, investment and advisory services company. For more information, visit

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