Hilton are listening to their customers... Kind of!

Joe - 11 th October 2019

Over the last few months, my wife and I have both had numerous “overnighters” in London and as often as we can we try and spend some quality evening time together. That generally means me hiking over to Heathrow to the Hilton she most often frequents and enjoying a nice evening meal in their restaurant.

As Hilton Diamond Members, the restaurant staff can’t do enough for us – very friendly, very courteous and for the most part very efficient and quick to serve. The menu is decent and varied and the food is very nice. One issue I did have however was with the pate starter…

On a visit around 4 months ago, I plumped for this starter. The glass jar was full to the top with pate – a huge amount for a starter – but what let the meal down was the distinct lack of bread to spread the pate on … 3 small slices. So, I made the point to our waiter that the pate:bread ratio was (in my eyes) significantly lob-sided and that was that.

Last month, I was at the Hilton again and decided to once more go for the pate. I was pleased to see that as a customer I had been listened to … but not quite in the way I meant! The picture here shows my now half-full jar of pate which was accompanied by the same small quantity of bread as previous…. Hence a more accurate pate:bread ratio, not by increasing the amount of bread (as I was suggesting) but by reducing the amount of pate! I have to admit to a little bit of admiration for the Hilton – listen to the customers and reduce costs at the same time!!

Diamond member

So, should we be congratulating Hilton for this? I suppose in their eyes they have successfully tackled the challenge of the balancing stones …. Delivered value for the business, together with value for the customer (this obviously could be argued as there was less pate but equally could be argued that now there was the RIGHT AMOUNT of pate) without any cost to the business. But did it align with the HILTON BRAND? Their values are:


From a HOSPITALITY view, although I was listened to on the ratio issue, I don’t feel I received an “exceptional guest experience” as a result … actually, more like the opposite!

I’d also question the INTEGRITY value in this case …. was reducing the pate and not increasing the bread doing “the right thing”? I’m not so sure it was.

As for OWNERSHIP, I will still dine at the Hilton but won’t be going for that starter again because of the very “actions and decisions” they took.

NOW? It was around 4 months between the 2 events so I suppose Hilton did act with some relative “urgency” … just a shame they didn’t quite get the message I was sending them!

Many organisations aim for such a balance but unfortunately often fall short due the mindset of needing to invest heavily to improve the CX or increase their revenues.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be the case and there are numerous examples that I can point to where we piloted low/zero cost solutions which then led to a better CX, a better EX, reduced costs, reduced time, increased revenues, etc. :

  • SEALIFE – introduction of a targeted sales pyramid at admissions gave customers a better first impression, empowered front-line staff and doubled the spend per head for the Behind The Scenes Tour.

  • Stansted Airport – re-working the rostering of Customer Experience Ambassadors to reduce the number of airside-to-landside transitions per shift and better serve customers in key areas, reduce non-value added time for staff and save approx. £55k per year in wasted time.



Joe’s background is in manufacturing where he ran and oversaw numerous improvement projects bringing benefits to both internal and external customers. As a CI consultant he has expanded his field of work to numerous other sectors including retail, finance and logistics. Joe firmly believes that regardless of the industry looking to make improvements, quality data collection and analysis is key. 
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