Complimentary Service That is Uncomplimentary to Service

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | June 05, 2011

It is better to give than to receive... right? What happens when hoteliers give a complimentary stay or experience, a “comp” , to support a special program or fundraiser and the recipient, the lucky “comp” winner, shows up to experience their reward? When that guest begins to make their arrangements, are they treated the same as other guests, better or worse than other guests? And, what value does this guest have for the hotel and the employees if that guest appears to be there ‘for free’ and not directly contributing to the bottom line? How can hoteliers harness the power of gift certificates and communicate their potential to hotel employee teams?

Based on my survey, I am amazed at how differently properties treat this issue. Some treat the certificate bearer as a pariah and low man on the totem pole and others place huge value with a welcoming spirit—very dramatic differences and perspective!

What kind of marketing and guest service potential is there behind these awards? Should there be guidelines in place to ensure consistent responses and behaviors for these ‘free’ guests? Could they be powerful new ways to instill or anchor loyalty in new or returning guests? Or, will they end up being ‘FREE” gifts that make NO MONEY?

Some hotels and organizations have a philosophy, procedures and orientation in place for their employees in both delivering the awards and receiving them for redemption. Others do not. It appears that each hospitality environment handles these awards differently. Some have standards in place…and some don’t.

When seeking donations and potential awards, some hoteliers recognize the value in the presentation BEFORE the award is even given. While a certificate or letter is often the norm, outlining the offering, details, policies and logistics, the packaging and presentation of that gift is quite subjective. It can simply be presented in an envelope or it can be presented as if the award itself was the first stage of welcome/introduction for the future recipient. In fact, the organization presenting the award is actually beginning the “experience” for that future guest.

At the il Lugano Hotel, a luxury boutique property in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a recent comp stay gift to benefit a school fundraising effort, arrived in a beautifully wrapped package, included a soft stuffed bear with the hotel’s logo, presented descriptive and inviting collateral materials and provided a thoughtful and warm welcome letter. Even before the gift was awarded, all those at the school had a fantastic impression of the hotel and the property gained several new fans and potential guests. The word of mouth spread in a very positive way, based on this very simple and thoughtful gesture.

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.