People can get used to almost anything. Those who live in big cities learn to block out traffic noise and sleep through car alarms and ambulances. Those in rural areas get used to being alone. People living above the Arctic Circle learn to deal with the extreme cold and dark days and nights during the winter. All in all, this is a good thing. We need to adapt to survive.
When it comes to the hospitality industry, however, getting used to something is a bad business move. If your staff no longer notices the squeak in the front door or can look past the paint peeling in the hallway, you can be sure that your guests will be keenly aware of both. That’s because they are coming to your establishment for the first time and are looking at things with fresh eyes. As the saying goes, you only have once chance to make a good first impression and it is imperative that your hotel does not give your guests any reason to doubt their choice when they arrive.
Therefore, both managers and staff must be aware of any change in the upkeep of the building so that they can take immediate action to remove a stain on the rug or fix a dripping faucet. The problem is that people suffer from change blindness, namely failing to notice significant changes in their environment. This is caused by the fact that the brain can only absorb so much information at one time, so people focus on what is important to them at that moment. As a result, if your front desk clerk is concentrating on getting a guest checked in, he might not notice the candy wrapper on the counter. If your hotel manager is late for a meeting, she can walk by a broken window and not even notice.
The best way to overcome change blindness is to mix things up a bit. Have your staff try to identify things that are different. It probably isn’t necessary to do something as radical as sending the room cleaning staff to inspect the kitchen while the maintenance staff inspects the linens — although it might be worth a try. But it is crucial that your staff blocks time out each day to look actively for something that is not quite right because they’re not going to notice it in the course of completing their regular duties.