The Gestures of Service

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | October 28, 2008

PLEASE light my candle! All the other table candles in the restaurant were lit, except ours. The time was twilight and we had a water view from our table. PERFECT timing for a lit candle. Our nice setting quickly became an incomplete experience. None of the waiters or waitresses noticed nor could we get their attention until several minutes later. Why use the space for a candle that only sits in darkness? We were disappointed that this little gesture was an oversight and a detail that did not seem important.

Big service opportunities come in little service gestures. Little efforts can score big with guests. Those hotels and resorts that do take the time to invest thought and effort in the smaller moments and gestures will score big in the overall guest experience.

In Park City, Utah, the Peaks Hotel provides several nice gestures that make guest stays so much more enjoyable. When the newspaper arrives each morning, a welcome sticker is attached on the front page with the statement, "It is our goal to make your stay a comfortable and enjoyable experience." A further statement notes that receiving the paper is a guest choice, offers two newspaper choices, and the opportunity not to receive it as well. Many hotels do offer the newspaper selection and perhaps a "provided with compliments of" sticker but the Peaks Hotel's additional statement of welcome and their interest in creating an enjoyable experience, even with the small touch point of a newspaper, showed extra effort.

A second thoughtful gesture is door-to-door delivery of hot chocolate and huge home-made cookies. An enthusiastic staff team takes this delicious cart around to each room in the late afternoon, knocking on each door, and offering the goodies. Many hotels offer tea, cookies, and other items like this in the late afternoon in lobbies or other central areas. This extra gesture of Peaks Hotel staff, personally going door-to-door, taking the treats to guests, who may have just returned from a long, day of skiing or snow activities, showed extra effort and a sincere gesture for guests who may have been too tired to walk to the lobby.

At the elegant Stein Eriksen Lodge, in Upper Deer Valley, Utah, Todd Ronsenkrantz, Restaurant Manager, developed another wonderful way to make tiny moments into big memories. In the Troll Hallen Lounge, while guests enjoy appetizers and drinks, Mr. Rosenkrantz, visits each table to ask guests if they are enjoying themselves and if all is as they expected. He calls this the "table touch". He makes the rounds and "touches" each table which in essence is touching each guest experience with a personal and memorable welcome. He is warm and welcoming and makes guests feel like each short visit mattered. He is engaging, involved and enthusiastic, even though his role did not require that.

Todd Rosenkrantz is a leader by example, not just behind the scenes, but on the frontline and his staff reflected those same engaging and enthusiastic qualities. This was a little gesture by someone in management who recognized the value of the guest connection for his employees as well as his guests. Gestures like these don't take much time but they do take the cake!

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.