The Gestures of Service

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

PLEASE light my candle! All the other table candles in the restaurant were lit, except ours. The time was twilight and we had a water view from our table. PERFECT timing for a lit candle. Our nice setting quickly became an incomplete experience. None of the waiters or waitresses noticed nor could we get their attention until several minutes later. Why use the space for a candle that only sits in darkness? We were disappointed that this little gesture was an oversight and a detail that did not seem important.

Big service opportunities come in little service gestures. Little efforts can score big with guests. Those hotels and resorts that do take the time to invest thought and effort in the smaller moments and gestures will score big in the overall guest experience.

In Park City, Utah, the Peaks Hotel provides several nice gestures that make guest stays so much more enjoyable. When the newspaper arrives each morning, a welcome sticker is attached on the front page with the statement, "It is our goal to make your stay a comfortable and enjoyable experience." A further statement notes that receiving the paper is a guest choice, offers two newspaper choices, and the opportunity not to receive it as well. Many hotels do offer the newspaper selection and perhaps a "provided with compliments of" sticker but the Peaks Hotel's additional statement of welcome and their interest in creating an enjoyable experience, even with the small touch point of a newspaper, showed extra effort.

A second thoughtful gesture is door-to-door delivery of hot chocolate and huge home-made cookies. An enthusiastic staff team takes this delicious cart around to each room in the late afternoon, knocking on each door, and offering the goodies. Many hotels offer tea, cookies, and other items like this in the late afternoon in lobbies or other central areas. This extra gesture of Peaks Hotel staff, personally going door-to-door, taking the treats to guests, who may have just returned from a long, day of skiing or snow activities, showed extra effort and a sincere gesture for guests who may have been too tired to walk to the lobby.

At the elegant Stein Eriksen Lodge, in Upper Deer Valley, Utah, Todd Ronsenkrantz, Restaurant Manager, developed another wonderful way to make tiny moments into big memories. In the Troll Hallen Lounge, while guests enjoy appetizers and drinks, Mr. Rosenkrantz, visits each table to ask guests if they are enjoying themselves and if all is as they expected. He calls this the "table touch". He makes the rounds and "touches" each table which in essence is touching each guest experience with a personal and memorable welcome. He is warm and welcoming and makes guests feel like each short visit mattered. He is engaging, involved and enthusiastic, even though his role did not require that.

Todd Rosenkrantz is a leader by example, not just behind the scenes, but on the frontline and his staff reflected those same engaging and enthusiastic qualities. This was a little gesture by someone in management who recognized the value of the guest connection for his employees as well as his guests. Gestures like these don't take much time but they do take the cake!

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.