Friday, August 03, 2007

More unnecessary spending

Well, the Mayor is at it again...secret shoppers to test our local hotels...and a public press conference to tell our hotel workers that they need to be "professional in their attitude and conduct."

And this cost taxpayers another $2500 - which has been added to my running total of unnecessary city spending.

Are secret shoppers the duty of government? Carty Finkbeiner tries to make the argument that visitors to Toledo judge our city by the hotels in which they stay. Personally, I've never judged a city by a hotel. I've judged the hotel, and if it was less than I was expecting, figured that I'd picked poorly. In fact, in talking with friends who travel often for business, they all said that their perspective of the city was NOT tied to their hotel experience.

So do visitors judge our city by the hotel they pick? Or do they judge the city by the roads, the cleanliness of the public spaces, the safety/police presence, good directional signs and ease of parking, whatever event/activity they came for and their overall experience? I think most people are smart enough to distinguish between a city and a single hotel.

And then there is the concept that our mayor is spending tax dollars to evaluate local businesses. To further add insult to injury, he publicly chastizes them because they don't 'measure up.' If I were a prospective visitor who'd just read this article, I'd be looking for a hotel in Perrysburg, as the mayor certainly didn't cast our hotels in a positive light.

I can't help but wonder - after he's finished with the hotels, what will be next? Will he turn his attention to local restaurants? retail outlets? movie theaters?

Perhaps everyone would be better served if he turned those secret shoppers on the city departments and agencies...especially since he has direct authority over those entities - and that's what he was elected to do.

If I believed that evaluating hotels was a good idea, I'd approach the local hotel owners association and ask for their help and support. I'd suggest that such a 'secret shopper' program would benefit them, as owners, and their guests. I'd ask them to pay for the program and use it to their advantage as a marketing or sales tool. This would be a good business decision for them and, together, they could improve their local industry.

Such an approach would accomplish the same results - the improvement of our local hotels - but it would be a voluntary, cooperative way of doing so...instead of a public humiliation at public expense.

6 comments:

Chad said...

Ahh Maggie....

Having been in the "Service Industry" for many years, both retail, building trades and in my younger years, the hotel industry. Retail, hotels, resteraunts etc, usually already have a "Secret Shopper" program.

They are always looking to improve customer service and they take the secret shopper reports quite seriously. I have wittnessed people being fired based on the reports the managers recieve from corp. on the status.

Additionally, customers are pretty apt to send their comments on the experience they've had. We do not need the government to police the businesses that already police themselves. And certainly not in a public scourging manner that the Mayor employs.

I wonder what better use the 5k would have been had it not been utilized to offend even more business, making it that much more clear that Toledo is an anti-business enviorment.

I am appauled at this happening again and for that crackpot to venture out to the media on this topic, that brought so much anti-administration retoric just a short time ago.

The Mayor has always been a media scoundrel, and now it appears he's also deaf, dumb and stupid. Apparently, the shouts of the public don't reach the ears on the 22nd floor. Reminds me of Nixon and the protestors outside the White House.

Jay Ott said...

What is so wrong about secret shoppers is that they're secret [as in secret police].

It's possible that those secret shoppers could be a competitor of a certain business or someone else with an axe to grind who are out to get someone by making things up.

If secret shoppers' complaints need to be followed up by city inspectors anyway, then what's the point of having secret shoppers in the first place? It would be more cost effective for city inspectors just to do their jobs rather than farm it out to people who possibly are not neutral.

Secret shoppers may or may not be credible but how can we know? What is the criteria? We can't know because it's secret. Therein lies the rub.

Besides, nobody likes tattle-tales. Am I the only one who is starting to see the ironic pun -- Carty Rat-Finkbeiner?

Maggie Thurber said...

Jay Ott - the mayor did use a firm that specializes in secret shoppers so I believe that they did perform according to their contract and were not 'competitors.' But you do raise a terrific point that we have city inspectors who are responsible for inspecting the hotels for compliance...why not just let them do their job???

Hooda Thunkit said...

A funny thing about service industries..., those that under-perform usually go out of business.

The consumer ultimately does his/herself what the government (meddling) so often fails to accomplish.

frustratedtoledoan said...

What a waste of taxpayer money by Hizzoner, the Royal mayor of Toledo. Maybe someone should hire a secret shopper to find out if he pays his parking ticket. He was caught by Channel 13 on Friday parking illegally in a handicapped parking place.

Roland Hansen said...

Gee, that gives me an idea. I think I should apply for one of those "secret shopper" jobs. What a way to make some extra money!

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