Service : An art form

When it comes to the hospitality business, service is one of those things that’s so easy to get wrong. Of course, it’s a highly subjective matter. But many establishments could learn a lot from Gio’s in Manchester.

Sandwiched between major entertainment and conference venues, its location couldn’t be better. And although it was extremely busy on a Saturday night, we were show to a table immediately and made to feel welcome. Contrast this with a classier looking Italian down the road where we were told there’d be a 30 minute wait and advised to sit at the bar. We still had to wait a good 20 minutes before a waiter found us, but having a table straight away made a huge difference.

I’m not sure that it’s always the sign of a good restaurant when the owner sits down beside you to eat his own dinner. But Gio’s is a family business. The manager is the son of the founder and he knows his market inside out. “Sometimes I ask my regular customers not to have a dessert so I can free up a table for a newcomer. They’ll still be back next week and I might give them a discount. It looks busy tonight but it’s not really. There’s hardly a queue at the door.”

What I like about these kinds of places is their absolute honesty. The staff are trained to be polite to the customers, but also to tell it like it is – with no bullshit.

Speaking of which, meet the Salisbury, one of the best down to earth places in the city.

Tucked away underneath a railway arch on Oxford Road, this is a great pub combining real ale and rock music. Quite loud rock music, as it goes. It doesn’t really matter if that’s not your thing because it attracts a mixed crowd of many backgrounds and age groups. For all the choice of nightlife in Manchester, it’s actually hard to beat a venue like this. Again, no bullshit.

Which is in sharp contrast to the service at breakfast this morning. The Holiday Inn isn’t a Travelodge, nor is it a Sofitel. But for a mid market price I expect the staff to be able to clean the dining room tables before the customer sits down. Even worse was witnessing a customer wiping down their own table, while the staff member was seemingly oblivious to this.

After Tweeting Holiday Inn with a comment, I was advised to speak to the duty manager. He seemed too busy checking people out at record speed to be bothered with such trivialities as to how their stay had been. When I recounted the story, I was told I should have found him at the time, rather than waiting to make a complaint. Er, no. You should get it right in the first place. Cleaning a table isn’t exactly a luxury extra.

He should do a shift at Gio’s.

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