'Have a Nice Day' ...or Not!

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | March 22, 2009

I remember shopping for shoes in Edinborough, Scotland one year. As I concluded my purchase, the sales clerk laughed knowingly with his co-worker when he said "have a nice day!" We had developed some rapport during our purchase so I asked him why he laughed. He commented that it seemed like that was a required statement for anyone in America at the conclusion of a sale or service experience, whether the person saying the statement understood it , felt it or truly wished it. From their perspective, it had become a 'clich'e' expression that really did not mean much. It does seem like "Have a nice day" has become an automatic and clich'ed statement, and is rarely matched with the enthusiasm and sincerity of really wanting someone to have a nice day. In fact, many times it sounds more like the person wishing you the nice day....really does not care whether you have one or not! Where is the originality, the interest, the genuine intention of a parting wish as one closes out a service experience? Has this statement become a stereotype and an easy, simple way of moving on to the next guest or customer?

There are other phrases and expressions that fit the "automatic" mold as well. In Australia, the twangy 'G'day Mate!" can also be thrown out at regular intervals so that it becomes expected instead exceptional.

What if hospitality representatives were trained to deliver more unexpected phrases that reflected more involvement in service delivery than scripted phrases? Hospitality leaders could and should inspire their teams to catch the attention and admiration of guests with sincere thoughts that make a memorable difference. Consider that most hospitality environments and hotels are hoping to make guests feel at home. Greetings and farewells should also make guests still feel like they are at home. If we have family over to our homes for a meal or activity, we don't usually conclude that event with the phrase "Have a nice day"! We do usually express something meaningful that shows we care and have cared that they were with us.

Sometimes the absence of a meaningful thought or expression can also leave less than a pleasant memory. One reader recently shared that the phrase "you're welcome" seems to be on the decline and expressions like "no problem" are more common, if anything at all as a response. It's as if the service delivered was handled and the guest's thank you should conclude that action. "You are welcome" is a statement, thought and expression that all hotel employees should have in mind throughout any service experience. Finding an opportunity to actually say that to a guest is a noteworthy goal and wonderful way to express gratitude. Acknowledging a guest at each step of service delivery is essential to fully creating an exceptional experience. These few little words can mean so much, when delivered sincerely, and yet they are often left out and the guest experience may be left unfinished.

Another expression often tossed out as a service transition or to conclude a service transaction, is "Is there anything else I can help you with?" This statement works when guests have satisfactorily addressed their needs and the employee reaches out to uncover any additional or not yet considered needs. Employees must be able to connect with a guest on the same wavelength and express empathy for whatever communication is taking place. However, it's always amazing to be dealing with a service challenge or issue, without successful or positive resolution, and the next response is "is there anything else I can help you with?" This often adds insult to injury as most guests want to scream, "You didn't help me in the first place!" But, employees are trained and scripted to make a positive statement without really connecting with what is happening or just happened. How about "is there anything I can do to make it better?"

While scripts provide useful guidelines in training new employees on possible ways to address and respond to guests, scripts do not provide emotional connection. That connection must be made by the trainer and in turn, the individual being trained. Emotion and real sincere communication are what impact us all the most and the same applies to guests and customers. The role of words and expressions as touch points in the service experience should be examined more closely and monitored even more. A parting comment, a caring question, an insightful thought or a courteous communication can be just the thing to exceed guest expectations. Thoughtful training and service standards will provide guidelines and a framework but they should also provide sensory awareness and understanding of how to genuinely connect with guests. Often used phrases should be highlighted in training with additional insight on how to 'change it up' and make them meaningful each time those phrases are used. If an employee plans to wish a guest a "nice day" then the true intent behind that thought should come through. Employees should be encouraged to modify and add to those often used words and expressions to make them more relevant to the personal encounter that just took place. For example, "enjoy your day" or even better, 'enjoy your moments today" add more focused levels of expression, an active verb that conveys more active wishes for that guest. Or, "hope your day turns out as you wish". Even, 'have a REALLY nice day', with more emphasis and emotion on the word REALLY can take those simple and common few words to a whole new level. Challenge employees to really think about their thoughts as they deliver each message. Encourage them to "keep it real" as they keep the big service picture in mind. Motivate them to choose words and phrases that will delight guests and create the degree of difference that makes service exceptional.

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.