Creativity & Passion Keys to Wowing and Returning Guests

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | April 06, 2014

Training at five-star resorts around the world offers a window seat into the more-refined sector of creativity and the achievements of those who are constantly striving to enthrall guests—guests with ever-rising expectations driven largely by access to an ever-expanding field promising and delivering equally exceptional experiences—and so move beyond merely satisfied guests into the heady domain of delighted guests who return again and again, friends in tow. The following anecdotal observations of effective initiatives being undertaken at the sumptuous end of hospitality are just that: neither official and sanctioned statements nor measured analyses with scientific conclusions; they do, however, have the advantage of a cross-chain perspective filtered through the prism of a butler’s luxury service mindset—with the same basic stresses and initiatives being relevant, equally, to three- and four-star environments.

Life Loves Life

Few GMs will argue whether friendly and professional service holds as much, if not more, sway in guest satisfaction as a splendid location and a wide array of quality facilities. As much as robot manufacturers strive for the ultimate robot that will make butlers and other service professionals obsolete, the warm and fuzzy truth is that people are people and like to be treated not just with mechanical efficiency, but also intelligence and empathy—by other life forms, in other words. Herein lies a key challenge for hotels and resorts: making live and friendly guest interaction the norm, as opposed to throwaway communications that betray a lack of real interest and engagement. Smarter GMs have recognized this hidden guest turn-off and engaged in training to remedy it.

Pursuing the same goal of increased “life quotient” amongst employees, some GMs have turned to the butling profession—not necessarily because they are more alive, but because, as life units, their mere presence provides life: Until the advent of butlers in hotels a couple of decades ago, the opportunities for face time/guest interaction and developing a special rapport/relationship were limited to brief guest experiences spread out over specific outlets and activities.

Exceptional individuals do transcend this brief opportunity to shine and create a loyal following (the author still remembers fondly being serviced a decade ago by a fine-dining waiter named Terry at the Lautrec restaurant in Pennsylvania, for his passion, even rapture, and the live rather-than-canned communication this generated).

Butlers servicing guests properly in suites open up a tremendous amount of extra services and thus face time and life. The convenience of having someone manage all the logistics of staying in a hotel or resort and most importantly, seeing to any problems; someone who knows and follows guest likes and dislikes—these all add a tremendous amount of value to the guest experience, as well as the opportunity to form a bond that is a strong pull for repeat visits, whether on the initiative of the guest or the suggestion of a butler who is valued and respected.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Randa Tukan
Lisa  Cain
Laurie Friedman
Mary Gendron
Tim Sullivan
Scott  Watson
Gaurav Varma
Michael Blake
Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.