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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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.