Help should be at the point of need

March 5, 2013

I’m staying in a hotel in Seattle right now. I checked in on Saturday night, and as there’s free WiFi in all conference attendee’s rooms, I asked for and got the password. But I couldn’t connect — there were three WiFi connection options in the list and the password didn’t work for two of them. The other option was an unsecured network for the hotel, so I didn’t try any further than the message about it being an insecure connection (in hindsight, I should have as that’s where it was all along).

I called Reception who gave me a basic instruction that didn’t work, and who then transferred me to the tech support people at RoomNet. The person who answered my call couldn’t help and transferred me to someone who could. That person didn’t respond so she said she’d pass on my details and the tech support person would get back to me. He never did. Meantime, I had no connection. I rebooted my computer in the hope that it might be a wireless glitch, checked all my settings, then in desperation I used my phone as a modem, but the 3G connection was flaky too (in downtown Seattle???), so I gave up and went to bed.

Now, as a technical writer, I think it’s professional courtesy for me to read the room’s manual ;-). And in the manual I found a basic instruction for connection that had been missing from the hotel guy I spoke with and the only RoomNet person I spoke to. I tried the instruction next morning and everything worked perfectly.

So the instructions were in the room all along, but in the room’s manual, NOT on the tent card about internet connection that was on the desk!! This was a classic case of putting instructions right where people are going to need them, not hiding them away inside a manual several feet from the location and deep inside a manual that most people probably don’t read.

One other thing… this manual was difficult to read as they’d used a light brown font on a beige/tan paper. Talk about a readability issue! Even for good eyes, it was hard to read.

One comment

  1. Well said. I often wonder why information is not displayed where you need it to be in the hotel rooms.Hopefully your post will make a difference to someone. thanks!

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