I travel a lot so I stay in many hotels. When I make a reservation, I ask for either a stall shower or a shower with a grab bar, or a roll-in shower. Since I’m not disabled, I like to leave the roll-in shower for the guests who actually are disabled. But I do need the extra assistance for getting in an out of the shower.
I’m at another conference this week. I did what I always do: I explained what I needed in a room, and the reservation person said, as they always do, “No problem.”
Well, I arrived at the hotel, and there was a problem. There was no disabled room available, with a roll-in shower. At first, the front desk gentleman offered me one normal room on the 12th floor for sleeping and one room with a disabled shower on the 14th floor for showering. Yes, go ahead and wrap your head around that one.
“How am I supposed to get to the 14th floor in my nightshirt? I’m supposed to bring my toiletries with me? In my bare feet? And when I’m done showering, I’m supposed to come back down the elevator two floors naked and wet?”
I looked at the front desk guy as if he was crazy. He said, “I’m sorry, it’s the best I can do. I can put a roll-a-bed in the parlor room with the roll-in shower. But we’re full. We have no disabled rooms.”
I was ready to cry. I had reconfirmed my room. I had explained my preferences. I had done what I was supposed to do. Here I was, at the hotel, after a flight with a very large person taking over most of a row (yes, that’s another story), and now I think I have to choose between sleeping and showering?
Luckily, this is a Westin, where they have people. The bellman had my suitcase and took me up to the 12th floor, where, surprise, they have a grab-bar in the shower. No problem. I can sleep there and shower there. All is well.
But the real question is this: Why does the front desk person not know what is in the shower? When was the last time the front desk person was even in a room? Why is the front desk person not eating the hotel’s “dog food?” (This is a software industry term, meaning use your own product.)
When you use your own product, you see, feel, taste, experience what it is like for someone else. You know the good, the bad, the ugly. You see the reality of it.
If you don’t use your own product, you have no idea. You are caught up in the fantasy of “we are wonderful.” Unless you use your own product, how can you tell?
If you are a chef, you need to have other people taste. If you are a hotel, your front desk people need to stay at your hotel, overnight. If you sell products, you need to experience what it is like to buy something from you. Try the whole darn thing. That’s eating your own dog food.
If you don’t know how other people experience your products, how can you know the reality of them?
I did not have to choose between sleeping well and being clean this week. I’m very happy about that. So is everyone else, I suspect.