We at Club Industry have often written about first impressions, last impressions and the impact that the front desk staff can have on that. We have also often advocated looking outside the industry — usually citing the hospitality industry — for examples and guidance.

Well, recently I was on a business trip and found out first hand that looking at the hotel industry, like most, can give both positive and negative examples. The strange thing is that both of these came in less than 24 hours at the same hotel.

Upon arriving at this hotel [which is owned by a major company bearing the same name as a recent reality TV star], I was greeted by Joy. I had stayed at this hotel once with my family last Thanksgiving and much to my surprise, after giving me my chocolate chip cookie Joy asked me where my family was and how the baby was doing. I had not expected this, especially since it had been several months ago and we had stayed there for only two days.

This pleasant surprise made me feel welcome at the hotel and gave me a special feeling for it. Much like when your front desk team greets members by name and perhaps engage in some pleasant conversation — it can be as simple as asking how the workouts are going or what the member might be doing today for exercise.

Now, contrast that with my experience the second day.

Following my workout in the hotel's fitness center — if a bike, stepper and treadmill qualify as a center — I stopped at the front desk to suggest they turn down the heat because keeping the room at 76 degrees may not be conducive to safe exercise.

This polite suggestion was met with a chuckle and the woman behind the desk — funny, I don't remember her name — informing me that the fitness center wasn't even open yet so people in there couldn't expect the correct temperature. Now mind you, this was one hour and 10 minutes after the posted official opening time of the gym.

Imagine how your members would feel if the front desk staff laughed off suggestions or informed them that problems were their fault and not the club's? You'd be looking at a whole lot of former members.

Will I stay at that hotel again? That is a tough call. Does the rudeness of one staffer offset the outstanding job of another? What about other points such as price, convenience, etc.?

I can't say that I won't stay there again but I certainly can't say that I will, at least not as readily as I would have following my check-in experience.

It just goes to show once again how important it is to make a great impression not only the first time, but every time a member or potential member is in your club.