Service Excellence: The Bottom Line of Leadership

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

After all, we did choose this less civilized island environment and we were ready to roll with the punches.

Yet, when we arrived at a recommended island resort something happened.... something wonderful. Making each guest feel special and appreciated seemed to be a natural instinct for each employee we met, no matter what time of day. Addressing our specific needs, baby and all, seemed to be a priority from gardeners to housekeepers to bartenders to front desk staff. In spite of and despite economic hardships of the island and a less optimistic tourism atmosphere due to worldwide events, the hotel staff seemed trained and motivated to deliver exceptional service.

Consistent and constant good service like this, at all levels, is rare in today's world and hard to maintain, especially on an island with less educated and less experienced personnel from whom to choose. Even in major cities, where experienced hospitality employees are more available, keeping those employees continually excellent at each point of contact requires focused attention. Hiring, training, retaining and leading employees with the attitudes that will create the desired guest experience represents a constant challenge.

Usually there is one reason and one reason only for consistent and constant service success-the man or woman at the top. My hunch proved correct. " A red carpet attitude starts from the top." Employees continually cited the property's General Manager as their inspiration and the reason for their enthusiasm and longevity. They were not forced to deliver service excellence; they sincerely wanted to make guests happy. They were equipped with service skills and more importantly attitudes befitting a luxury resort. Most came to the property with no training or role models and ended up being shining service stars.

After I met this General Manager, I was even more delighted. He genuinely cared about his employees and made them feel important even when he was with guests. He'd spent a lot of time getting to know them and empowering them with a strong service sense. He was a property role model and walked the service talk. And the most powerful part of all, his occupancy numbers and repeat guest statistics were up while almost everyone else's in his market were down. Service excellence does and will impact the bottom line.

The attitude and service spirit of any organization absolutely reflects management's philosophy and actions. To lead employees in proactive customer service behaviors and encourage their active commitment, management must recognize, understand and practice those same behaviors. General Manager Anthony Bowen and his team at The Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia, in the West Indies did just that and created an experience for our family that far surpassed our expectations.

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.