Premier Inn Edinburgh Haymarket’s ironing facilities remind me how easy it is to get stuck in a defensive mindset

I’ve been staying in Premier Inns quite a bit on business over the last month. Nothing wrong with them. As I said in a Tripadvisor review, they do all the basics just about right. But something occurred to me tonight, while I was ironing my shirt for tomorrow’s sessions.

When you’re away on business, and unless you’re wealthy and staying in the very best hotels, ironing a shirt in preparation for doing business the next day is a vital part of getting ready. I don’t know about you, but I can face just about anything with a nice quality, well-ironed shirt.

So why do hotels pay this vital activity so little attention? Why is the equipment they provide of the lowest quality?

In the case of Premier Inn, the irons and boards are kept in ‘Guest Services’ cupboards on each floor. No problem with that but it goes downhill from there. The iron & board combo is a fiendish contraption of a regular (if cheap) steam iron shackled by a curly wire to a metal holder unit fixed to the board.

The problems this arrangement causes are staggering. First, you can’t fill the iron with water. Why? Because there’s no container in your room with a spout. Using a glass results in nothing but a soaked floor. You can’t take the iron to the bathroom – without taking the entire ironing board with you, which is what I ended up having to do. Once there, you STILL can’t hold the iron under the tap – but you CAN now use the glass (spilling gallons of water safely down the sink in the process). Finally the iron has water in it. And now the real fun begins.

Premier Inn has managed to buy the kind of cheap steam iron that, no matter what setting you have it on, leaks water copiously onto your shirt as you go, leaving great stripes of sodden cotton in its wake. These streaks then promptly soak up all the stains on the ironing board underneath (which, of course, isn’t covered in any periodically replaceable fabric cover, but the basic ‘silver’ heat resistant cover).

That’s not the end of things. There you are, ironing yellow stains into the nice clean white shirt that you managed to get the entire length of the country without getting dirty when you realise that the restraining cord is causing the electrical cord to drag sideways against your shirt along the edge of the board. This rucks up the shirt (where you’ve already ironed it), causing immediate and permanent creases.

There are two main lessons here. The first is that this hotel (like so many) fails to spot the opportunity to improve my experience because it doesn’t stop to think about the situation from the customer’s point of view. The second and more important lesson is that to treat everyone else like criminals because someone once stole a cheap iron from you is very short-sighted.

When you’re out and about tomorrow, take a look at how much of the world around you – from the buildings you work in to the processes and systems you use – is built to accommodate the worst possible kind of person, not the best. The worst passenger, the worst employee, the worst patient, the worst consumer.

Then ask yourself: “Do I do this too?”

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