The Three Pillars of the Hotel Industry: Customer Service, Colleagues and Money

What You Can do to Make Financial an Equal Pillar

By David Lund Hospitality & Leadership Expert, The Hotel Financial Coach | January 22, 2017

Brands are asleep when it comes to the opportunity they have to increase their effectiveness by creating financially engaged leadership teams in their hotels. Brands sell expertise to owners. Brands need to realize the key to mastering the third pillar, the finances starts with investing in financial leadership training in their hotels. Brands mandate guest service and colleague engagement programs and the owners pay the tab. The exact same relationship exists for financial leadership training and everyone wins, the owner, the leaders and the brand.

Pillar 1 Ė Guest Service††

We manage guest interaction with an understanding and belief that weíre all invested in good guest service. Even the departments that donít have direct guest contact help support the colleagues and departments that do. We are all responsible. Good guest service is a no-brainer for anyone in the hotel business. Itís the very moral foundation that our business is built upon. Finding ways to increase guest service is just good business. We invest in guest service at all levels in our hotels and we take the function of providing great service very seriously.

In branded managed hotels, the management company typically has guest service programs that they have either created or they provide in alliance with a vendor. In addition, we spend serious dollars asking our guests how we are doing. Guest service scores are critical to the operations of the hotel. In every instance the brand mandates the guest service programs inside their hotels and the owners pay 100% of the tab, for everything related to creating and maintaining guest service. Many owners question the management companyís programs, these can be very expensive and the results are hard to nail down. Annually the brand will send their hotels the yearly programs via the budget documents that outline all the programs the hotel needs to add to their upcoming year. Even if the hotel adds labor for training the owner, in the end, pays 100%.

When we think about a brand and its service reputation itís interesting to see through this mirage, to look and see that ultimately the owners of the hotels are paying to create the brand's service promise. This is largely a secret to most people. Understanding the relationship between the brand, the owner and what is created via this dance is an interesting segway. In most branded hotelís, the annual guest service score forms part of the executive teamís bonus criteria and achieving the targeted number or better is a direct link to their pocket books. The last thing I will say about guest service is we do not tolerate leaders or staff that do not provide excellent service.††

Pillar 2 Ė Colleague Engagement

Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.