The Achilles Heel Of Atlantis

Thursday 28th, June 2012 / 09:41 Published by
in Travel


What You Can Learn from the Second Fall of Atlantis

The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas has experienced financial hardship of late. Use these lessons learned so you do not suffer their fate.

Four years ago my wife and I dropped the kids off with the grandparents, jumped on a plane, and headed to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. This week we returned for a family vacation with the kids.

For those of you who are not familiar with Atlantis, it is a billion dollar mega resort built by Sol Kerzner on Paradise Island. In short, in my 41 years on this third rock from the sun it is one of the most impressive vacation destinations I have ever seen.

So why then is it struggling? The old adage of if you build it they will come has not paid off for the Atlantis resort which has, recently, had to deal with severe financial hardship. Why? It can’t be the facilities, they are amazing. The cost? Sure it’s expensive, but it’s on par with a Disney cruise or other like vacations.

In my experience of now staying here a second time Atlantis’s struggles can be summed up in two words: customer service.

So what distinguishes Atlantis from world-class vacation experiences such as those run by Walt Disney World, Royal Caribbean, the Bellagio, and Ritz Carlton: they’ve built a world-class property but they are simply missing the world-class customer service to run it.

So my advice to Atlantis, hire John DiJulius, author of the greatest customer service book ever written, Secret Service, to help them craft a customer service program that will rival the best in the world. If you build it, which you have, and you properly staff it, which you have not, they will come (back).

But what if you cannot afford to hire John DiJulius to train your staff? No problem. Here’s what you can take away from the possible second fall of Atlantis for your business:
1.  Create Incentive That Encourage Great Customer Service

At Atlantis a 15% gratuity is automatically included on every food bill. Every one. Not just for fine dining or groups more than six. From when you buy ice cream at their Ben & Jerry’s to every Piña Colada purchased, an extra 15% is added for the staff. Why?

2.  Trim the Herd

To effectively run a successful business you must also be willing to, as required, trim the herd. In other words, when a weak link is harming your company you must be willing to let them go for the greater benefit of your business. This will both eliminate the direct problem as well as provide a reminder to those who remain that expectations and standards are taken seriously within your organization.

3.  If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come

There’s no doubt that Atlantis spent the money to build a world-class resort. The hotels and water park are simply amazing. But just because you build it they won’t necessarily come.

Let’s take Disney for example. Their properties are every bit as spectacular as Atlantis. But when you stay at a Disney property is it the buildings themselves that keep you coming back or something more? What if when you went to ask the clerk for change he said, “Sorry, only if you purchase something.” Or what if off duty employees loitered around the premises smoking cigarettes and discarding their butts anywhere they pleased? I doubt it would really be considered the happiest place on earth anymore and, correspondingly, sales would soon fall.

So take a lesson from my experience and thoughts on Atlantis: do not de-incentivize your work-force, do not be afraid to trim the herd when necessary, and staff your business properly and they will come.

By Matthew Swyers


1 Comments on “The Achilles Heel Of Atlantis

  • Kudo’s to the writer for saying what needs to be said. We agree – customer service is everything to bring folks back! As residents of Florida, we don’t come to the Bahamas for the beaches and warm weather. What drives us away from our own paradise is the warm fuzzy feeling we get from the local hospitality. Bahamians appear to lack a sense of urgency about ANYTHING and come across as dis-engaged. Customer service reps seem easily frustrated, short tempered, and slow to act. We’ve never considered the Bahamas a “friendly” destination and we’ve been told hundreds of times by locals and friends living in Nassau, “everything moves slower in the Bahamas”, “remember we’re on Bahamas time”. Yes, we get it. We now forgo spending time or money in Nassau and choose to stay on the ship when our itinerary takes us to the Bahamas. We can’t imagine spending a week at Atlantis -seven days of Bahamian hospitality would drive us over the edge. We understand that not ALL residents treat visitors this way but we believe the attitude is status quo.


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