Nervous Service

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | October 28, 2008

"Well, shake it up, baby, now, (shake it up, baby)

Twist and shout. (twist and shout)

Cmon, cmon, cmon, cmon, baby, now, (come on baby)

Come on and work it on out. (work it on out)..."

These wonderful lyrics from The Beatles remind me of summer but lately they've been reminding me of something else... Nervous Service! Call it shaky, call it uneasy, call it anxious, high-strung, sensitive or walking on pins and needles. These kinds of service experiences make the guest want to TWIST and SHOUT!!! What happens when employees are so focused on their duties, so concerned about management's expectations, so worried about letting co-workers down? Nervous service can bumble the job! Walking the line between expectations and service delivery can be challenging. How can employees better understand the seamless delivery of service and how they can have fun doing it without the jitters? Can hotels and hospitality organizations "work it on out"?

There are all kinds of nervousness as noted above. One type is excitability or rather "undue "excitability. When we dined in a new beach area restaurant, open only two weeks, we were quickly unexcited about our service experience. Our waitress was quite pleasant and seemed enthusiastic about her new role and environment. When we asked questions, she seemed quite eager to respond and assured us we would get the particulars of our order. We allowed our expectations to rise to match hers in serving us. When another server brought our order, it was all the wrong stuff. She was not there to oversee the delivery and we had a tough time flagging her down. She seemed a bit concerned but whisked the dishes away with nary an apology. Seems like the kitchen was too excited to pay attention to the orders and just sent out the food. She was too excited to pay attention to our order quality, delivery and satisfaction. And, then, to top it off, we reached for salt and pepper and the containers were empty. Seems the staff was too excited about setting the new tables and forgot to check if the shakers were filled. Lots of attention and excitement to opening a new restaurant. Little attention to the service and details that make a difference.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.