"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux


Views and Interviews

May 2023

Consumer Awareness Feature

Lost & Found Stories # 02

In February 2020 we did a story on personal items left behind at hotels and resorts in the country. We featured housekeeping supervisors in that interview who told us that many of the items left behind were inexpensive and difficult to return. (The cost of returning it could sometimes be more than the price of the article you want to return.)

For this month’s feature, we speak to end-customers – people who may have left something behind at the resort.

The people featured here are active on the travel and vacation front. And as we mentioned in our previous interview, this demographic is useful to us – and relevant, in terms of vacation interests and feedback. (Where they go, what they do, and what they look for at a vacation resort.)

Let’s hear their side of the story.

Mallika Kumar – IT consultant

I’m usually the careful one in the family. I’m the one who is making sure we don’t leave anything behind in cabs, restaurants, and other people’s houses when we visit them. On a vacation I go into overdrive - I am extra careful – and hate leaving anything behind that calls for a replacement when we get back home.

But on our most recent vacation, I left behind a pair of gold earrings in our room. Tiny earrings, but something I just could not afford to lose. They had been placed in one of the drawers of the dresser and remained there when we packed our suitcases during checkout.

I realized they were missing only after we got back home. I made a quick call to the guest relations person at the resort and was relieved to hear that the earrings had indeed been handed over to her office, and that they were safe with her. Now it was just a question of how this item could be picked up, or delivered to us.

This is a good example of the honesty and trustworthiness of the housekeeping staff. It is rare to find someone handing over gold jewelry to the customer support team. (In this case, the earrings were so small they could easily be taken home.)

Veena Bhaskaran – interior designer

I too just hate (really hate) leaving something behind at a resort. It sort of kills the “feel good” of a really nice vacation. On this occasion our five-year-old had left an expensive tablet behind at the resort. He normally keeps it under a pillow (despite many warnings) and that is where it was found by the housekeeping staff.

We had driven down to Coorg and were now driving back to Bangalore. We had hardly covered 15 kilometres when we received a call from the resort, informing us about the tablet. We were not too far from the resort and could actually return quickly to pick up the device. (Such a relief that was.)

Here again, like Mallika’s experience, I was deeply moved by the efficiency and spontaneity of the staff to get in touch with us as soon as they found the device. Only a high level of training and orientation can encourage a “customer-first” response. Efficiency is good, but honesty is a couple of notches above that.

Gauri Srinivasan – investment advisor

I guess the templates I follow as an investment advisor help me plan a useful checklist of things to pack for the vacation and cross-check when we are leaving the resort. My checklist has evolved over the years and is now practically idiot-proof. (Strange as that may seem.)

On our most recent vacation this checklist helped us look for and find at least half-a-dozen important items that we could have left behind. The list included my second (work) mobile, my phone charger, my expensive Bluetooth ear buds, and some children’s toys.

I feel as guests (customers) we should be responsible in the first place. We should have methods of our own to make sure we don’t leave anything behind. It places an extra burden on resort employees to find, trace and return items left behind.

In fact, my checklist goes beyond items that could be left behind. It includes food packaging and other paper waste that is often left behind in the room when we check out. My list ensures that we dispose of these in a responsible manner.

Vinod Prabhu – banking professional

In the better-managed resorts I am aware of a process in place to handle Lost & Found items. In one of my chats with a Guest Relations manager I was told that there are two processes at their resort – one for expensive items left behind, and another for inexpensive items like cosmetics for instance.

The cheaper items just go into a huge box that eventually gets discarded in a responsible manner. More expensive items like watches, phones, and other electronic gadgets go into safekeeping with identity stickers. The team then reaches out to the customer to find ways of reaching these items to them in a safe manner.

I once stayed at a not-so-highly-rated resort because of a holiday season rush. And successfully managed to leave a gold watch behind at the resort. For some time (staying elsewhere) I went back to the resort every year in the earnest hope of finding someone wearing my watch. And even if I did, I guess I could not prove it was mine. (But it was just the thought of finding it there that was making me go back again and again.)

Editorial Comment: It is reasonable to assume that people will leave things behind in their rooms when they check out. Keeping that in mind, resorts could have a more organized way of handling Lost & Found items. You need a process in place that defines clear steps to follow – right down to safekeeping and keeping the guest informed.

For a guest, RELIEF is sometimes the most comforting six-letter word – especially when you have found something you thought was lost for good.

Link to earlier feature - Lost ∓ Found Stories # 01

Housekeeping Supervisors talk about dealing with Lost & Found items

Image credits:
Free-to-use images courtesy of pexels.com > Image 01-Gadgets+pexels-adrienne-andersen-2237804 * Image 02-Earrings+pexels-superlens-photography-11203750 * Image 03-Tablet+pexels-kampus-production-7414099 * Image 04-pexels-chelsey-horne-4590395 * Image 05-Watch+pexels-max-avans-5058216

Content Disclaimer: The views expressed in our interviews and stories do not necessarily reflect the official policies, practices and guidelines of the All India Resort Development Association, or its members. These views are based on personal experiences, private opinion, or open source information. (Images used here are either "paid-for" stock photos, images shared by the people we interview, or images under one of the open source licenses such as Creative Commons and others.)

Here’s a link to some recent interviews done by us on the AIRDA website

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