The Weight of the Wait... Time is Money!

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | November 17, 2008

Waiting: "To dream that you are waiting, is indicative of issues of power/control and feelings of dependence/independence, especially in a relationship. Consider how you feel in the dream while you were waiting. If you are patient, then you know things will happen at their own pace. If you are impatient, then it may mean that you are being too demanding or that your expectations are too high.

Alternatively, the dream may denote your expectations and anxieties about some unknown situation or decision. There is a sense of anticipation. You are ready to take action."

Taken directly from the Dreammoods.com website, this interpretation of a "waiting" dream seemed more like reality in today's world. Think of how much today's consumer 'waits' on a daily basis; the doctor's office, traffic, on hold while on the phone, supermarket and gas lines, at the bank, DMV or utility office, for a spouse, for kids, for friends, for meetings to start and the list goes on and on. As noted in the dream site, many consumers and guests DO feel a loss of power and control in these situations and do have high expectations. Today's world presents a constant deficit of time and hoteliers need to recognize that guests are already experts at waiting. They arrive with a sophisticated portfolio of waiting experiences and time zone expectations. Time is a critical issue in service delivery. Guests do not want unknown situations and they seek hospitality environments to reduce the anxieties of everyday life.

This dream analysis presents insight on how hospitality professionals can make waiting for service an opportunity to deliver service while waiting. How many times does the guest feel like they are the one waiting versus the wait staff waiting on them? What are the timing issues that make or break a service encounter? How does timing impact the overall guest experience as a service factor? Consider making time to analyze 'time' with employees who have "time" with guests.

The 'weight' of the wait in the world of service delivery should not be underweight or overweight! When arriving at a crowded restaurant, with a reservation, what is a reasonable amount of time a guest should have to wait if their table is not ready? After all, they did call in advance and make the commitment to come spend money. How quickly should a table be made available to them if the restaurant is full and how had the restaurant prepared for this? If they do have to wait, what options are made available to make guest waits more pleasant? Are there actually other income opportunities to present to guests while they are waiting? Could they sit at the bar, order drinks in the area they are waiting, walk to the gift shop or learn about upcoming special events? Could they read publications, articles or menus which will further excite them about what the restaurant has to offer? Once seated, how long should guests wait before a server approaches them? Are guidelines in place for how long it should take for the welcome, the menus, the water and bread, the drinks and the meal order? While timing is not always predictable, service should be both forecast and predictable and if timing goes askew, servers should be prepared to step in and provide transitional solutions. Managers should take time to evaluate each touchpoint involved in the service delivery experience and what the minimum or maximum zone of time for each touchpoint should be. If service cannot be delivered within those defined time zones, plans should be in place to address situations when timing is not optimal. The experience within that time zone must be maximized to deliver exceptional service.

I never ceased to be amazed at Nobu, the trendy Japanese cuisine restaurant chain. After visiting locations in Dallas, New York and Miami Beach, I have noticed their staff seems to consistently know how to manage the wait for their guests by introducing ways for guests to enjoy the moments before they are seated. Whether it was enjoying drinks at the bar, visiting the adjoining hotel, taking in the unusual ambiance and d'ecor or simply checking out the scene, the Nobu staff seemed to know how to direct us to something interesting and fun in each place and keep us happy and entertained while we waited. They recognized and defined the wait as part of the Nobu experience.

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.