Using Real-time Feedback to Enhance the Guest Experience

By Richard D. Hanks Chairman and President, Mindshare Technologies | April 15, 2010

Henry Ford was on to something when he said, "A business absolutely devoted to Customer Service Excellence will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large."

Sounds about right to me. Companies that are focused on giving their customers what they want always do well. But what defines "Customer Service Excellence?" Far too many companies think it's as simple as doing what they think their customers want; others do what they want their customers to want.

Neither of these is even close to the meaning of the term "Customer Service Excellence." It's something created when a company commits from the top down to listening to their customers, responding to their feedback, and crafting an operation that focuses on meeting their needs.

So, how do you ensure a great experience for your guests? Here's a simple thought: Let them tell you what makes for a great experience. Instead of speculating, or taking shortcuts on customer happiness, reacting directly to customer feedback is your quickest route to "Customer Service Excellence." The best way to do this is to allow them to tell you, in real-time, at every property, every day.

Let Them Tell You - in Their Own Words

The first step is finding out what customers want. Feedback gathering systems come in all shapes and sizes, from in-room comment cards to front-desk checkout surveys, to lengthy Guest Satisfaction Surveys. These can give you a general overview of what the customer went through during their stay. But, comment cards are slow, and face-to-face surveys aren't accurate for the large majority of guests, who are conflict avoiders. And, most Lodging Guest Satisfaction Surveys have become so long and detailed that I worry that they've become routine and impersonal to the guest. What we really need is a solution that provides enough research sophistication to perform the needed analysis, but one that is simple enough to build on the kind of accurate information we gather when we simply ask a friend, "Hey, how was the hotel? Or, "So... how'd it go?"

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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.