Interview with Hotel Inspector
January 18, 2013
Watch Alex Polizzi in the newest 7th series of Hotel Inspector - every Monday at 22pm exclusively on BBC Entertainment.
What is the most common mistake hotel owners make?
People go in to running a hotel with very little experience, training or knowledge of the industry.
Lots of B&B owners go in to it completely blind, with a song in their heart, and they don’t realise how hard you have to work or the hours you have to spend, or how difficult it is dealing with customers. Once they’re open - the most common problem I find, is spotting that the price they’re charging doesn’t match the offer. And cleanliness – that’s one of my big bug bears.
What’s the recipe for running a successful hotel in your opinion?
It is a combination of things. A real liking for people, you don’t get much privacy running a hotel. You need to be incredibly welcoming day and night and that takes its toll on some people. You need to make sure that you offer clean, comfortable rooms at a decent price and food that is commensurate with your room offering . It isn’t rocket science but for some it seems incredibly difficult to achieve.
What’s the most surprising situation that’s happened to you so far whilst filming The Hotel Inspector?
The thing that made me rear back in horror, was a hotelier saying he didn’t really like people. And I just thought what a very strange industry to go in to with that knowledge about yourself. I think he just assumed he could keep people at arm’s length, which you can’t. The whole point about hotels is customers!
Do you switch off from hotel inspecting when you’re abroad? Is it hard to switch off from your job?
It is quite hard to switch off but when I am on holiday, my critical faculty is immensely dulled just by the sheer pleasure of not working. I’m much more critical in my working life than I am in my personal life.
The Guardian newspaper in the UK reviewed The Hotel Inspector – and said “Alex has the look of a 1940’s film star and the manner of a 1940’s headmistress, my, but she’s terribly bracing”. How does that make you feel?
I thought it was very flattering, and that’s exactly the persona I would like people to see me as having. I didn’t feel in the least bit uncomfortable with that. A lot of what I do is telling people to buck up their ideas, and that’s quite old fashioned. I’m not in a position of saying “there, there dear, it’s not really your fault”. It’s my job to tell hoteliers where there their standards are not appropriate. I have to do an enormous amount of chivvying and quite of lot of telling off but I’m very comfortable in that role.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
On those of occasions when you see a hotel owner ultimately acknowledge that what you’re saying is the truth. Human nature is rather unsure with regards to making enormous changes... unless someone’s forced in to it. So it’s most satisfying when someone completely agrees with me, and is willing to go all out to transform their hotel as it should be.
Big TV trends like baking, home improvement, self improvement are very of the moment, what do you predict will be the next big thing on TV?
I love all that. I just love being taught something I didn’t know although never say never, there will be something else coming along. Although I do think there will be more in this vain – we like to be inspired and creative and we like to think of how our lives could be different if. And that kind of TV ticks all the boxes.
Twitter and the web – how has it affected the world of a hotelier?
The internet in general – bad reviews and all the various chat forums; there’s no room to hide for a bad hotelier anymore. It can be unfair sometimes. Everyone now thinks they’re a critic. I think it’s sad that people prefer to complain on the internet rather than face to face and they’re out to get some redress for their complaint. I’m an old fashion hotelier and I think the best thing to do is say what you think at the time, to ensure you have a good stay where ever you are at that time. People have trouble talking honestly and therefore they seek redress in a spiteful manner after their stay – and their stay is already ruined, and the hotelier can’t do much about it with an internet complaint.
Where’s’ your favourite hotel in the world?
Currently it’s Sugar Beach in St Lucia. It’s completely luxurious and I can’t wait to hasten back there as quickly as I can.