Public signs in hotels are unwelcoming and send out the wrong message to guests, according to hospitality guru Derek Taylor.
"No Entry," "No Parking" and "Private" signs contradict hoteliers' goals of offering clients "the greatest welcome they are ever going to have."
Taylor was speaking today at the Business Briefing Stage at the 2015 Hospitality Show at Birmingham's NEC.
A pioneer of sales and marketing strategy for Grand Metropolitan and InterContinental, Taylor was interviewed by Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality.
He said hotels acted as second homes to guests during their stay yet all too often signs - and official greetings by reception staff - were unfriendly and unhelpful.
Taylor, who has just published the book "Revolutionary Hotel Marketing," based on his 60 years at the hospitality "coal face", cited some of his favourite industry bugbears, including the ubiquitous hotel sign that says "Private."
He asked the audience: "How many rooms in your house have ‘Private' on the door?"
Taylor referred to a hotel in Aberdeen with a long approach to the main entrance. It has five signs - four saying "No Parking" and one saying "No Entry."
"How does that make you feel? Hardly welcome," said Taylor.
He also criticised the way people were treated when they called at reception and asked to speak to a named employee. Taylor said the standard response - "I'll tell Mr Jones you are here" - was tantamount to saying: "I'll just check if you are a liar."
Instead, the hotel worker should say: "How nice to see you. May I take your coat? Would you like a seat in the lobby? Can I get you a coffee?"
Taylor added: "The signs in hotels and the way we treat customers need an enormous amount of rethinking."
He said sales and marketing too often played second fiddle to hotel operations even though sales and marketing was responsible for driving business. The role should be assigned at a senior level.
Taylor said: "We don't want a super rep. We want someone who can supervise the selling and that doesn't happen. I think I was the only sales and marketing director on a FTSE 100 board and that is because my company believed it was about sales and marketing and not just the product."
He added: "I am not knocking GMs. They are beautiful people. But they don't know how to fill hotels and that is what is going to send us into profit or bankruptcy."