Open letter to Indian business owners: Please read the disclaimer before making comments : )

Jaisalmer Travel Blog

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Disclaimer: Whilst this post is critical and uncomplimentary on some aspects of the Indian experience. Please be aware that its not meant to offend. It is simply my way of putting into words some of the things that have perplexed and driven me slightly insane during my time in India.


Dear Indian Business owner,

I felt compelled to write this letter, after a number of experiences that left me exasperated as a traveller to your magical and beautiful country. Whilst I do not pretend to understand the infrastructure of your country, or the difficult conditions under which you work on a daily basis. I felt I had to share my experience of services here. Not as a wish to insult, criticise or offend. But because I have a deep affection for the country of India and its people, and whilst the demands of the modern age do not always translate so well in cities where theree are water and power shortages, and people often work 18 hour days just to make ends meet. I feel that if taken in the right spirit, some of my suggestions will serve you well and if diligently applied only increase the profits your business makes.

1.India is a labour intensive country. Staff can often out number guests in some smaller establishments. I would therefore suggest that this workforce is deployed effectively. Making sure that the tables are laid ready to receive breakfast dinners, will encourage the customer to believe that they are expected and their business welcomed. Don’t look at me like I insulted your mother when I ask for coffee at 8.45am, or enquire after the milk, that should have come with the coffee.

2. Kitchens in India are often absent of things that are standard in the western world. Gas stoves, ovens, dish washers etc. On the upside, you have staff who are able to quite adequately make up the short fall for not having these amenities if trained and guided. Crockery and cutlery given to dinners should not be washed with cold water and ones hands. It does not take much to clean the coffee pots and the salt and pepper shakers every now and again. With the presence of swine flu and all other manner of illnesses and infections, hygiene standards within the kitchen should be a high priority. Whilst slightly time consuming, this is not a difficult task.

May I just add here, that whilst it may be presumptuous of me to assume that a large number of businesses here does the bulk of it sbusiness through tourism. The number of mass produced trinkets, un-authentic Indian clothes, designed purely to attract the traveller, toilet paper, expensive shower gel and bookshops, would suggest to me that tourism is the life blood of many cities, and therefore some consideration must be given for the customer you hope to attract.

3. Commununicaton is key. For a culture that specialises in talking, friendship, community and family values. The average communication with the tourist, your biggest customer is incredibly minimal. Whilst I am not suggesting that all of a sudden everyone starts setting fixed prices, and writing books of policies and procedures. It would be beneficial for you to communicate early on, if there are certain conditions of any stay or business transaction. for e.g:
-the book exchange requires you to give 2 books, to take away 1- A simple notice will suiffice, rather than your rudeness
-The guest house shuts at 11.pm and expects guest back before then- please see above, please note I am over 21!
-if you don’t have something on the menu 3 days in a row, it can be assumed that you no longer serve this. . If this is something as everyday as orange juice or fruit salad, let the customer know when giving them the menu. Then they can look for something else, before spending 20 minutes deciding to have orange juice and fruit salad!
-If you take laundry and this cannot now be delivered at the time agreed, let the owner of the clothes know. Do not assume we have back up clothes, sometimes you have everything we own, other than the clothes on our backs.
-Do not re-use the straws. This is just gross. We do know that this happens. It’s unhygienic, cheap and shoddy. and personally would make me re-consider whether to eat from this establishment for fear that they may also recycle food, pre-packaged water etc
-If there is a power or water shortage, let us know. It’s frustrating to find out you can’t have a shower, when you have something to do or somewhere to be. In fact, if there are set times each day when these facilities are not available, please let us know at the beginning of our stay, so we can make an informed choice of whether these conditions meet our needs. Whilst it may appear that this would result in less custom. It would also result in less complaints and returning satisfied customers, who got what they were expecting

4. Things like a dustbin, mirror and hook to hang you towel and coat on, should be standard in a guest room. If you have windows, these should shut and lock. No one wants to sleep with a cot up against the window in-case some fearless intruder was brave enough to try and enter the room over the balcony and in through the window which is only half fitted, like I did.
-As an aside. If you spend money having a carpenter fit stained glass windows in wooden fittings, make sure the window locks actually work. Shoddy workmanship at this level only serves to reflect badly on your whole business. Also a customer without a bike lock to secure the space from the inside, may simply choose to move guest house, to one that at least appears to be concerned for their safety, belongings and privacy.

5. When dinning, customers do not like to be stared at by 3 members of staff, have their every conversation over listened too, or interrupted with offers of other products or excursions. Sometimes we just want privacy to read, work, talk without the nuisance of 3 waiters who have surely seen foreign tourists before, loitering like flys. Maybe we just want to eat. This is a nuisance. Make yourself busy, clean something, there's no shortage!
6. Whilst I’m sure washing and changing bed linen is a laborious and time consuming task, nevertheless it is an essential one. However, it is understood that it is not financially viable to replace all sheets that have stains. To that effect, it may be a suggestion to dye these sheets black. If they at least smell clean, customers will be more assured that they are clean. Oil, blood and black stains on sheets are decidedly off putting, no matter how the clean you claim the sheets maybe. My silk sleeping sack has been my best investment of this trip so far, really this need not be the case, after all you are running a guest house. Those guest houses who just leave the sheets on until someone complains, are just plain nasty...you know who you are!

7. Whilst we don’t expect rooms in guest houses to be cleaned everyday and were not paying for the luxury of the Taj. We do expect an offer of cleaning at least every 3 days and to have the towels and sheets changed occasionally. India is a hot, dusty, dirty place, and your room is often your only space of cleanliness and sanitation, it should not be an extension of the street .After all, even the steps of the business are cleaned every day, so the floors of the 'paying' guests rooms should not be negelected

There are many many more observations I could have made and useful suggestions I could offer, but I really do think this is enough to be getting on with. I look forward to seeing the improvements

Best Wishes

A frustrated customer
staceyjamie says:
I know babes, but you know me, always got a bloody complaint, 6000 mile is going to change that, lol. Glad you like my ramblings.xx
Posted on: Mar 18, 2010
fifirella76 says:
Jamie Jamie Jamie :-) It's India!!
You do make me laugh.....
I simply adore reading your blog xxx
Posted on: Mar 17, 2010
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Jaisalmer
photo by: lrecht