Slow Hotel Tub Drains Are a Detail That Matters (To Me)

Many of us have heard that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Good advice if by small stuff you mean that which nobody really cares about it. But how do you know what’s small and what’s not?

A clogged shower drain

Once, after a three night stay in Madison, WI; I was left pondering three questions?

  1. Why do so many hotel bathtubs drain slowly?
  2. What process do hotels have in place to clean drains once they don’t drain at all?
  3. What percentage of hotel customers hate standing in water when showering?

A detail that matters to me

My visit to this hotel would have been perfect, except for the whole plugged tub problem. Whenever this happens on a one night stay, I usually let the staff know on my way out so they can correct the problem for the next guest. Although I have no way of knowing whether they do or not, I assume that they didn’t know it was running slowly and I provide them with what I believe to be useful information.

Change Management for restructuring

On this visit, since it was three nights, I left a note on the tub after the first night, thinking the problem would be solved for the next two nights. Nope, drain still clogged on nights two and three. There goes the theory about they just didn’t know.

I really liked this hotel. Staff was helpful, breakfast was tasty, room was clean and quiet. Is a slow-running drain a deal-breaker for where I go next time? No, especially because every hotel chain I’ve tried seems to have this same problem.

Still it was irritating enough to write an article about it.

Did they choose to do nothing?

Maybe the staff cleans drains on a schedule, and it wasn’t time yet. Maybe they wait until it’s completely plugged and notice it when trying to clean a tub that’s full of water. In either case, my conclusion was that they knew about the problem and chose to do nothing.

My note read “Hi, tub is draining slowly. Thanks.” I suppose a person might have interpreted my intent as “No biggie, but when you get around to it, you might want to check this tub drain.”

Unfortunately, that would not have been the correct interpretation. A closer one would have been, “I can’t stand the sound of shower water hitting standing water in the bottom of a tub and want this thing cleaned out so that I can enjoy my next two showers.”

I agree that if it is small stuff, don’t sweat it. Just make sure you know what is and what isn’t small.

When you are in the customer service business, you aren’t the one who gets to decide. If the customer mentions it, the problem matters. Do something about it.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce helps companies change by creating stronger teams, more effective leaders, and better processes. To discuss a challenge you're facing, use this link to schedule a free discovery call.


  1. Read your article about slow hotel tubs and sinks draining slowly so what is the answer why do they drain so slow

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