Enhancing Guest Experience with a Methodology Based, Service Oriented Approach

By Michael Waddell Managing Director, INTEGRITYOne Partners | September 02, 2010

The emergence of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has changed traditional thinking when it comes to envisioning, designing, and building information technology (IT) systems in the modern hospitality enterprise. SOA brings a renewed emphasis on improving leverage of IT investments through reuse while simultaneously allowing unprecedented amounts of business flexibility.

Hospitality business processes are typically replete with similar actions and activities that are used in many functions, sometimes crossing the boundaries of quite different parts of the business. Being able to use this reality to create competitive advantage can go a long way toward ensuring success in this competitive industry.

It's Not Just About the Technology Anymore

Even with the best technology available at guest servicing locations, enhancements to guest experience are not likely to occur unless the technology is combined with necessary adjustments to business processes. In some cases these are very minor adjustments to the way guests are serviced on property, and in other situations there are more complex changes that may need to occur. Either way, any changes that must occur can be managed through application of a comprehensive guest experience enhancement methodology.

There are two significant goals that must be achieved through the methodology. The first is the comprehensive analysis of possible guest experience touch points and the probability of capturing meaningful guest experience information at each touch point. Second, the business must define a suitable topology of guest experience events, generic enough to be leveraged across multiple brands and multiple properties yet extensible enough to accommodate the need of individual properties.

An extended event might include more detailed elements that capture specifics that may be only meaningful for the property at which the event occurred.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.