Hotel F&B: You Never Know Who You Are Serving

By Susie Ross Founder, Waiter Training | October 28, 2008

The restaurant and bar crews were sorely understaffed to handle a small influx of people in October. There didn't seem to be a presence from management of any kind. The front-desk staff couldn't be bothered by petty requests and inquiries. One incident stands out in particular and I witnessed it - no exaggeration from the person to whom it happened.

The bride's uncle and his wife drove up from a small town in Texas. I'll call them Jerry and Marilyn. Jerry and his wife are unassuming in appearance and are probably aged in their mid-sixties. When they arrived at the hotel the afternoon before the wedding in their very expensive, shiny black Corvette, the valets eagerly awaited the opportunity to jump behind the wheel of the car to drive it 100 yards to a parking space.

Marilyn spotted a family member and went to chat with her in the lobby while Jerry stood back from the counter, waiting to be acknowledged. The hotel employees were assisting other guests. When they were finished with those guests, they saw no other would-be guests to whom they should be paying attention. They did see a maintenance man, dressed in dark work pants, work boots and a blue, striped shirt with a name patch, on which was embroidered the name "Jerry." They ignored him.

Jerry is a smart man, a businessman. He owns a company that paints commercial aircraft. It's not a large, Fortune 500 company, but he is successful at what he does, in part because he is a hands-on kind of business owner. He enjoys driving his Corvette and is comfortable wearing his work clothes after a day at work to get to his niece's wedding in Oklahoma City. Being a smart man, Jerry understood what was happening. So he went to the counter and asked if he could check in. He was a little angry, but he was willing to let their ignorance pass. However, the person he chose to talk to acted as if he might be insane to think that he could afford to stay in a hotel such as this. He skeptically began the check-in process.

That is basically the end of the story. Jerry checked in quietly and no one apologized for ignoring him. They happily took his money, though. He didn't complain to the hotel management; he didn't think it would do any good. However, he vowed they would never see his money come across their counter again.

Guess what the topic was at dinner that evening! The bride's family, other guests, including me, all of whom were having our own issues with the hotel, were only too eager to have another red mark added to our long list of complaints. We all certainly told other people. The tragedy for the hotel is that it's an international chain. People came from all over the United States and Canada for this wedding.

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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.