Putting the 'Hospitality' back in the Hospitality Industry

By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | October 28, 2008

What other industry is so directly involved with serving its customers in many significant areas to their well being? Food, drink, and sleep are three of the most important needs of an individual. But just meeting these needs does not ensure a successful operation or client loyalty. Nor does it ensure that the customer's needs were met with good service in a hospitable manner.

As an industry, we discuss "service" and more often than not, rely on the integrity and good nature of the employees to deliver the required service(s). Many of the large companies provide service standards on everything from how to answer the front desk phone to when to replace the soap in a guest room. Service and hospitality go hand in hand but are actually two different concepts. "Service" can be defined as the "act" of providing a service, whereas "hospitality" is the "cordial attitude" of the person providing the service. It's the difference between a pianist who hits all the notes correctly with impeccable timing and one who evokes feeling with his playing. How many times have we tried to resolve credit card disputes, question telephone charges, or return merchandise, just to feel that the customer service person did not hear our legitimate perspective and was inflexible in their positions? We are thankful when we deal with a representative who not only works to resolve our problems, but does so in a helpful and kind way.

This article will address the opportunity and benefit for the hospitality industry to be the leader in providing hospitality and setting standards for other industries to emulate.

What is "hospitality"?

According to two dictionary definitions, hospitality is: "Cordial reception. Kindness in welcoming guests or strangers" and the act of being" friendly and solicitous towards guests".

When a customer refers to "Great Service", it is service which is delivered by a person who is warm and caring or in other words one who is hospitable. What better industry to lead the way in service and hospitality as the "hospitality" industry? Hospitality should actually be the industry's most natural strength. A dedication to this on every level will set the hospitality industry apart from other industries and foster profitability. Service + Hospitality = GREAT SERVICE.

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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.