Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Old Woolstore response to criticisms on Rita's Bite

I received the explanation, below, this evening from Ben Targett, Commercial Manager of The Old Woolstore and am more than happy to publish it here. Ben's response settles my mind about the future of our hospitality industry, for now at least. I trust that all other establishments pay as much attention to those details as Ben describes Woolstore as doing.

"Having investigated the events surrounding the disclosure that Mr Lethlean was staying at The Old Woolstore when he was recently in Hobart to review Marque IV, I feel it is appropriate to defend our property in the face of some pretty unfair comment.

Ironically in all of this, the staff member concerned is an 18 year-old trainee who has a very impressive record in both her studies and her fledgling career in hospitality. Her commitment to the hospitality industry has been unfaltering and she has attended a number of familiarisation visits arranged by The Old Woolstore to improve her knowledge of local services and attractions. These have not included Marque IV and as a young adult I don’t find it at all strange that she isn’t familiar with this restaurant, given that it is a relatively expensive dining option tucked away on a pier. She managed to Google the restaurant whilst speaking with Mr Lethlean, sending him on his way without realising it would place her unwittingly in the centre of the storm in this tea cup.

The various characterisations of the quality of our commitment to customer service that I have read are disappointing and unfair. Over time The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel has an enviable collection of awards at the State and National AHA Awards for Excellence, Tourism Awards and Tasmanian Training Awards. The most recent of these has been the 2008 Australian Tourism Award in category Deluxe Accommodation, presented in Melbourne during February this year. This award was one of only two made to Tasmanian entrants and has at its’ heart a commitment to business excellence, including customer service. For a property that has operated in our current form for eight years, this recognition did not come as a result of recent physical development or some flashy promise, but our commitment to our providing spacious, central, comfortable and good value accommodation along with friendly, professional service. It was achieved against all accommodation providers in the four-star range in the country.

There have been many comments posted on Rita’s Bite on this topic. For those readers who have taken the view that Mr Lethlean’s experience is reason to hold fears for Tasmania’s future as a tourism destination, I would ask that you reconsider. Admittedly our staff member didn’t know of the restaurant, but quickly found out where it was and helped Mr Lethlean with directions. Knowing her as I do, I am sure this was done in courteous manner with his best interests at heart. If nothing else, the feedback posted has highlighted the importance of our ongoing program of staff education in relation to local tourism, dining and activity offerings."


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ben, The Woolstore aims and achieves what it sets out to do; an exemplary 4 star venue. As an industry collegue, Bens fank and honest response is welcome. Sniping form the sidelines (the mercury) reveals the inadequacies of a critique in a one paper town and the lack of rigour that surrounds it's analysis of a vibrant network of committed hospitality professionals.

Christina said...

Just goes to show there are two sides to every story.
A great response, and goes a long way towards explaining a couple of things.
Keep up the good work Ben and staff at the Woolstore.

Anonymous said...

I dont doubt the Woolstores commitment to providing great customer satisfaction. However Lethlean wrote it like he saw it. Like all reviews of sorts they are a snapshot of that moment. Is that unfair? Perhaps, but no more unfair than a restaurant getting a dud review because of a single bad night amongst 364 good ones.
In hospitality, your reputation is a fluid entity, never static & can never rest on the awards that might adorn the walls.
Whilst I think it shows initiative to reply on Rits site, it still has a tone of the unfairness of it all.
Suck up the criticism, take stock, inform the staff & move forward.

Anonymous said...

If the staff member googled the restaurant and then told him where it was, well he hasn't told the truth.
Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

based on the feedback from Ben, do you think Lethlean wrote it like he saw it, or used a bit of creative licence?

Ginger said...

Re. the issue of the young Hotel staff member not immediately knowing where Marque IV was, for what it is worth, I have been amazed that so few of my friends, also, have known about it when I have mentioned it, saying how great it is, including some who have at least in the past worked in food retailing and catering.

I was lucky enough to have been taken there for one of those zero-type birthdays a couple of years ago. It meant nothing to me then, when told where we were going, and I wondered if I should dress up or down (luckily opted for the former). As soon as I walked in I thought I did not know Hobart had that sort of restaurant, that special feeling which hits you as you walk in the door, and which only increases with each delectable dish that is served so well. Given that it was so special, why did not the majority of Hobart know about it?

So, yes, perhaps a hotel staff member could be expected to 'know', but many Hobart residents seem not to know so it was perhaps not already part of her local knowledge, and perhaps tourists/visitors had not asked her about this one before to prompt her to find out because they, too, have been unaware of it. I dare say she will never forget its whereabouts now.

I am not sure what advertising policy Marque IV has.

Anonymous said...

Will woolstore people know where Peppermint Bay is?
Will anybody? Will anyone care?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they can ring Graeme Phillips and he can point out where Peppermint Bay is!

Anonymous said...

Graeme wont do that, he did a hatchet job on em last time!

QW said...

Well said Ben!!!!