Aligning Services and Vendors with Service Standards Via the Concierge

By Shujaat Khan Chief Concierge, The Capital Hilton | May 04, 2010

Understand that when a guest needs a babysitter, limousine, audio visual equipment, massage or other ancillary service, the request is usually made of the Concierge. After all, in most guest service directories you will find a lengthy list of services provided by the Concierge. Often, guests view these services as hotel services, rather than a service provided by an outside vendor. Each vendor's timely, professional and seamless delivery of these services is critical to the guests lasting impression of their hotel experience.

If every in house service is delivered flawlessly, yet the babysitter or limousine requested arrives 45 minutes late, or the audio visual company delivers equipment that does not function properly right before your big presentation, then the memory is likely to be "the hotel was ok, but the babysitter or car was so late that we missed the first half of the show, or my presentation was a disaster as the hotel's equipment malfunctioned." This type of service failure infuriates your guests and will be remembered much more than the fabulous housekeeping, the friendly door staff, or the excellent food.

To ensure that your guests never encounter the disappointment of service failures, use your experienced lobby Concierge as a trainer and a quality control inspector when enlisting the services of external vendors. Your Concierge serves as the eyes and ears of the lobby. Their primary goal is to exceed each guest's expectation and to facilitate the smooth delivery of requested services.

The professional Concierge develops relationships with vendors that can provide services to their guests with the same enthusiasm and level of professionalism as the Concierges themselves. If a limousine driver is disheveled or if the rental car arrives less than pristine, then the lobby Concierge is in the best position to remedy these issues before the guest is aware of them.

As professional lobby Concierges for many years, we enforced the hotel standards with each vendor we used. Drivers, babysitters, massage therapists, personal assistants, translators and others were required to arrive at the Concierge desk at least 15 minutes prior to the needed service. They were required to dress and speak in a professional manner. If they were providing equipment for the guests, the equipment would be tested to ensure proper functioning. The appearance of the service provider and their equipment was monitored and corrected when necessary. On many occasions, we would require that the car be quickly vacuumed, that the Goth looking babysitter wash the black make-up off their face and remove their multiple piercings or that the floral arrangement be replaced with one that exactly meets the guests' specifications.

The Concierge staff is in a unique position to remedy service deficiencies before the guest is made aware of them. Having a finger on the pulse of the city in which they work, the Concierge is often the first to know about and the first to react to vendor deficiencies.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.