The Importance of Creating Legendary Customer Experiences

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | October 28, 2008

A new trend is shaping customer service, and it goes well beyond simply providing what guests expect. Today, customer service is being measured against a guest's experience in total - all of your guest's interactions with your company, your facilities, your products, your services and, most importantly, your people.

While customer experience has fast become the industry's new buzz phrase, most are still having a difficult time differentiating between good customer service and a legendary customer experience. The following story helps separate the two.

In my previous job, I was responsible for a project that involved bringing the company's 200 largest clients to the corporate office to get to know the senior management, tour our facilities and learn more about our new products. As part of the tour, I brought the guests in a day early and took them out for a nice dinner with our senior managers.

On the surface, the mere scheduling seemed daunting. Each of our clients would send multiple representatives, and I scheduled up to four clients on any particular tour. Also, I had as many as five or six colleagues joining us for dinner, which meant I was responsible for more than 50 corporate dinners that included anywhere from 12 to 20 people.

For my own sanity, I created a rotation of four restaurants. The first round of dinners went just as planned. All of the restaurants served fantastic food, had great atmospheres and offered quick and attentive service. For all practical reasons, I was completely satisfied. Then came my second trip to the first restaurant in the rotation, which made clear the difference (and value) in creating a legendary customer experience versus simply satisfying me.

Upon entering the host said, "Welcome back Mr. Ely, we're glad to see you again. The last time you were here, we noticed you had a large party, and it seemed to be business related." The host went on to say, "I saw on the reservation that you had a party of 15 tonight, so I reserved one of our small banquet rooms for you at no extra charge. I thought this would create a better atmosphere."

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.