The mark of a great leader is the humility to accept when they are wrong, and the flexibility to change without digging in their heels. Two years ago, two different guest experiences helped open the eyes of our Thailand Country Manager, and reinforced the fact that at Elite Havens, we always put the customer first.
The beginning of this story may not sound so rosy. And perhaps is not something that many organisations would want in print. Two years ago, Femke Beekers, Country Manager Thailand for Elite Havens, was contacted by a potential guest who was seeking a villa stay in Phuket. The guest had special needs and required wheelchair access in the villa. Femke found herself in a tough spot. On one hand, she wanted to please the guest and have them stay at an elite haven. And on the other, even a small glitch could come in the way of them having an enjoyable and relaxing holiday. This cautionary tone to their dealings did not go down well. The team found themselves bearing the brunt of a disgruntled and disappointed customer, not only losing the opportunity to host them, but being told that a little empathy would have gone a long way.
This experience shook Femke and her team to the core, making them introspect and question how they could have handled this better. Some managers would have swept this under the carpet and continued as usual. But taking the easy way out is not the way we do things at Elite Havens.
So the next time that a special needs guest contacted Femke, she swung into high gear. With no hesitancy in her dealings, she requested the team to ask as many questions as they could, and understand the needs of the guest well. Ramps were built, shower partitions temporarily removed, special vans arranged for transport and even a medical bed procured, so that the guest and his wife would be comfortable during their 35-day stay.
“We wanted a villa stay as it is more private than a resort. What we did not expect was to get attached to the villa staff, who felt like family by the end of our stay. They were so warm, and always ready to help. We spent hours together, often partying or learning Thai words.” – Franck Gloaguen
When Franck Gloaguen checked into Villa Rodnaya, he couldn’t hold back his emotions. The villa was transformed into a wheelchair-friendly home, so he could access most of the property with ease. Though accompanied on the trip by his wife, Franck was completely wheelchair bound. For the next 35 days, he and his wife were waited on hand-and-foot by the villa staff which had been briefed in advance. They felt like they were home, such was the warmth of the staff, and the convenience of moving around within the villa.
When Femke went to visit Franck during his stay, she found him grinning with absolute joy. He told her how much he was enjoying the stay, and had even taken a dip in the villa’s personal pool. Nothing could be a better testament to the success of her team’s efforts.
“We could not have asked for a more blissful stay. We can’t wait to return to an elite haven and highly recommend these villas to anyone who needs wheelchair access or has any other kind of special needs. The team was friendly and professional, from reservations to the management, and made our holiday heavenly.”
You learn something new every day. Even after years of managing customer expectations, her dealings with two guests opened up Femke’s eyes to an alternate world. A world where a little empathy goes a long way. Just by showing that you care, and trying your best to create a wheelchair accessible holiday rental can mean the world to people who are faced with hesitancy everywhere they go. But with us. Not any more. At Elite Havens, you will always find a holiday home that can be adjusted to your needs. And more importantly, you will find a team that will work tirelessly to ensure no stone is left unturned when it comes to fulfilling your wishes and desires.
And just when she was settling down, another unusual request came in. A potential guest had requested for a grand piano to be airlifted by a crane into his villa of choice. Femke smiled to herself and promptly replied back to the guest. Of course, we would get it done.