Mr. Waddell

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

Guest Experience Requires Solid Measurement and Reporting Structure

By Michael Waddell, Managing Director, INTEGRITYOne Partners

The Hospitality & Leisure industry continues to undergo dramatic changes due to the impact of technology on business travel, the dynamics of geopolitics and its impact on individual behaviors, the changing competitive landscape, and more. As a result, hospitality operators are highly focused on guest loyalty and the product/service and personal attributes that foster return on such loyalty.

Furthermore, globalization and technological forces are accelerating a shift in customer demands toward a desire for services and products that are tailored to individual style and preferences. To be successful, organizations must improve the customer experience and develop lasting customer relationships. These goals can be achieved by de-emphasizing standard offerings for leisure and business travelers, understanding target consumer segments, and embracing models that focus on providing differentiated experiences, customized to meet individual needs. Successful hospitality companies are undertaking key business transformations related to their customers, product and service delivery, business operations, brands, employees, sales and distribution, and deployment of technology.

In order to meet these challenges, companies that truly know their customers and provide premiere products with high levels of service in ways they desire are growing market share and staying ahead of the competition. Subsequently, customer knowledge and the ability to turn that knowledge into processes and technologies that enable measurable guest experience enhancements are critical to this success.

The Challenge

Guest experience research in the Hospitality & Leisure industry takes on various forms. Instruments can range from conversations with guests that provide anecdotal data to short questionnaires measuring key property/personnel attributes on an ongoing basis to comprehensive surveys that capture quantitative feedback on facilities and service attributes, personnel performance, demographic and pricing information, and more.

Each approach carries advantages and disadvantages. However, effective approaches can be built around a recurring tracking survey process that provides a comprehensive view of a property's operations from the guest's perspective, along with the reporting systems and tools that enable executive and on-site management to continually turn knowledge into opportunities for enhanced guest experience.

Given the daily rigors of hospitality property management, strategic focus on guest experience is often reduced to a simple, manageable model that, while helpful, does not facilitate (a) comprehensive collection of relevant data, (b) analysis of these data in a manner that recognizes the business realities of hospitality, or (c) deployment of reporting mechanisms that fuel operational responses to key findings in near-real time.

In the absence of such a model, periodic and incremental gains in guest experience become the measure of success. Industry demands, however, require competitive companies to maintain significant and current knowledge bases that are used to steer expenditures and operations toward continually enhanced guest experience.

Research, Analysis and Reporting

The approach mentioned earlier utilizes a combination of a proprietary guest experience research model for data collection and analysis in conjunction with its customizable hospitality portal for management reporting that enables sound operational responses.

Guest Experience Research

Research should examine guest experience against at least two broad performance categories: overall product superiority and the delivery of services to guests.

Product quality measures guest perceptions of a property's physical plant: pool, lobby, carpets, hallways, stay rooms, bathrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, landscaping, and more. Service delivery measures guest perceptions of less-tangible but equally critical operational elements: ease of check-in, staff friendliness, food service, issue resolution, and more.

Additionally, research should include broader, global measures concerning overall stay experience, price sensitivity, and value. Because the ideal research model is ongoing, data can be aggregated monthly, quarterly, and annually to allow for solid benchmarking and valuable comparative views over time.

Once collected, data are analyzed using analysis techniques developed by George Wallace. The broader measures described above become dependent variables, which are measured against independent variables of product quality and service delivery. This approach reveals the product and service attributes that have the greatest impact on the dependent variables. Those independent variables that demonstrate the greatest impact on the dependent variables become performance metrics that management monitors and responds to in order to enhance a guest's experience.

It is important to note that we do not examine pair-wise comparisons where the impact on overall experience for a single attribute is estimated ignoring the contributions of all other attributes. Rather, Wallace's model allows all of the variables to "speak" in a multi-dimensional sense, based on each one's respective strength in driving overall experience. The ultimate result is a total model of a given property's operation from the guest's perspective.

Property-specific measures can then also be further aggregated to view insights into common themes across property types, regions, and organizational management levels, allowing for corporate-level initiatives while preserving the unique aspects of individual properties.

Hospitality Portals

Illustrating such analyses through a custom hospitality portal further increases their value to executive and on-site management. Our portal is designed to enhance guest experience through better control of operational efficiency and financial performance, leading ultimately to increased competitive advantage.

While many portal technologies are being implemented for the benefit of employees and IT departments, this model seeks to use them to provide decision makers with accurate, timely information that allows them to focus on profitability. By combining solid guest experience data with yield management and other key metrics, and integrating them with essential back-office functions, portals deliver the right information to managers in a way that is timely, informative, and user-friendly.

Conclusion

Hospitality & leisure companies must know and respond to their customers in order to succeed. While many guest satisfaction research models are available, a comprehensive model such as the one discussed here allows for continuous data collection then uses multiple regression analyses to identify key drivers of overall experience and the relative impact of each of those drivers 3/4 positive and negative 3/4 on experience and other global perceptions. Data that are collected and analyzed in this manner comprise a valuable guest knowledge base that can then be leveraged for management use. Portal technologies enable the reporting of such knowledge to executive and on-site managers, augmented with other key data from any number of other systems, in a user-friendly manner that allows operational responses to minimize the effects of negative attributes and maximize the impact of positive ones.

Market pressures, including aggressive competition and a dynamic geopolitical environment, will continue to require hospitality & leisure companies to seek enhanced guest experience and resulting loyalty. By strategically leveraging powerful research and useful reporting, successful companies can increase their competitive advantage and solidify leadership standing while intelligently targeting expenditures to maximize return on investment.

Michael Waddell, a Managing Partner with INTEGRITYOne Partners, has more than 20 years experience in business, technology, and the Hospitality & Leisure industry. Mr. Waddell's technology background along with his familiarity with and affinity for hospitality allow him to conceive unprecedented solutions for critical hospitality business issues. He leads the firm's efforts to develop tools that bridge costly disconnections between technology and operations. Mr. Waddell can be reached at michael.waddell@ionep.com

Michael Waddell, a Managing Partner with INTEGRITYOne Partners, has more than 20 years experience in business, technology, and the Hospitality & Leisure industry. Mr. Waddell's technology background along with his familiarity with and affinity for hospitality allow him to conceive unprecedented solutions for critical hospitality business issues. He leads the firm's efforts to develop tools that bridge costly disconnections between technology and operations. Mr. Waddell can be contacted at michael.waddell@ionep.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

JANUARY: Mobile Technology: The Relentless Pace of Change Continues

Bernard Ellis

According to a recent study by Deloitte entitled Hospitality 2015: Game changers or spectators? , mobile applications will be a key area for technological development in the industry over the next year. As more consumers than ever before are equipped with smart phones and tablets to aid in booking travel, hoteliers are finding new ways to interact with guests and build brand awareness via mobile devices. READ MORE

Mehmet Erdem

Digital beacons in hospitality continue to guide travelers through an ever-increasing maze of travel challenges. These technologies are ever more deployed in hotels to assist though various stages of the guest-life cycle. Hoteliers are facing challenges as well as opportunities. It is imperative to offer an attractive value-proposition for the guests so that they are encouraged and motivated to engage with such technology-based services. Hoteliers are tasked with utilizing science along with the art of hospitality and determining the best way to engage guests in an era defined by social, mobile, cloud and analytics. No different than the bright lights that guided ships across the ocean in the night, or the radio waves that assisted planes in the sky, digital beacons will guide hotel guests throughout their stay and engage them in a way they will want to return again. READ MORE

Mark  Heymann

In today’s lean hotel industry, managers can’t afford to be desk-bound. They need mobile tools that allow them to manage operational issues immediately and efficiently from any location as they engage with guests and staff. Other factors that will drive demand for mobile in 2015 are regulatory compliance and the rise of app-savvy millennials as a key and growing segment of the labor force. The tech world is responding with mobile solutions that promise to transform the way hotels manage their employees while empowering those employees with the tools to better control their own schedules. READ MORE

Matt Carrier

The mobile eCommerce space in the hotel industry is growing and changing rapidly. With the massive influx of new distribution apps and mobile sites, it is vitally important that hoteliers stay educated and able to make informed decisions about their hotel participating (or not) in these new channels. Hoteliers must be able to take a pragmatic view of both their hotel(s) and these channels, with their specific customer profiles and compensation structures, to determine if they will be able to benefit from their participation. READ MORE

Coming Up In The March Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Human Resources 2015: Recruiting and Retaining the Best Employees
Due to the ever-increasing demands for improvements in guest experience, intense pressures are brought to bear on hotel workforces, as well as on the Human Resource professionals who are responsible for recruiting, training and retaining them. Meeting and exceeding guest expectations requires a substantial investment in recruiting and development, so that top talent can be hired, and career paths can be established to ensure the continuation of five-star service performances. So important is staff development that most HR professionals believe that retaining and rewarding their best employees, and cultivating the next generation of corporate leaders represent their greatest challenges. And they are expected to accomplish these feats at a time when competition for in-demand skilled talent has never been greater, and when HR budgets are still constrained due to the slow-growth recovery following the Great Recession of 2007-2009. HR strategies continue to evolve as social media has become an accepted means for recruiting purposes, and there is also a greater emphasis on metrics so that investments in HR practices and policies can be measured and justified. In addition, issues surrounding demographic changes in the workforce are being addressed. A large percentage of existing workers are ageing out of the industry, just as the Millennial generation is entering it, and there is also greater diversity in the workforce which affects many aspects of HR operations. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the challenges facing HR professionals, and will report on some of the best practices they are employing to achieve their goals.