April FOCUS: Guest Service

April, 2019

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.

This month's feature articles...

Scott Hale

If you're like most hoteliers, you're always on the lookout for ways to differentiate your venue and enhance your Team and Guest experience. You've got things that you'd like to start doing, things that you'd like to stop doing, and things that you'd like to do better. Is spending on yes in your plans? If it's not, it should be. If you spend on yes, you'll transform your venue. You'll demonstrate to your Team and your Guests that you value and trust them. Assessing your yes will get you off to a good start. Next, empowering your Team to seamlessly spend on yes will better serve your guests and ensure that they enjoy a truly memorable experience worth sharing and repeating. READ MORE

Shayne Paddock

If every answer to a complicated guest request is that it requires the approval of management then the opportunity to have a personalized guest experience is lost! Empowered employees who are trusted to say yes in the moment become engaged employees and take ownership of the guest's overall satisfaction. When you empower your staff and give them the tools and processes they need to succeed they will feel like leaders in your organization and that they are contributing to the overall success of the hotel. Engaged hotel staff results in higher guest satisfaction and ultimately higher profits. READ MORE

Chris Green

Culture might feel like an overused term: one of those buzzword business concepts that has taken on a life of its own. The reality however, is that a strong professional culture isn't optional it's essential. Culture doesn't just make your hotel a more enjoyable place to work, it also makes it a more enjoyable place to stay. It doesn't just boost employee satisfaction, it enhances guest satisfaction-and leads directly to a stronger bottom line. Understanding the nuts and bolts of how to build and maintain that culture is critical, and includes everything from training and tactics to setting priorities and building personal connections. READ MORE

Dianna Vaughan

Excellent customer service in the hospitality industry is about so much more than providing a pleasant stay for guests. Organizations that wish to be known for their stellar customer service must go above and beyond, not with fulfilling outlandish guest requests, but with prioritizing the guest experience in all aspects from the development of a property's design and food and beverage offerings to the training each team member must complete. The Hilton All Suites brands have found success by not only following this strategy, but by partnering with owners and developers who share the same vision. READ MORE

Chris Charbonnet

At a time when technology and social platforms make guest feedback and reviews more accessible and impactful than ever, a hotel management company's ability to consistently create a memorably outstanding guest experiences is more important than ever before. The best way to make that happen is to create a "culture of yes". That means building a team that's more than just being agreeable, but demonstrates both a willingness and an enthusiasm for responding to guest needs with positivity and problem-solving. Understanding the obstacles to getting there-and the best practices that can help you overcome those challenges-is essential for hotel management excellence. READ MORE

Sara Djubek

Service is not a drive by event, it requires the ability to prepare for sincere and quality interactions. The Goal: An experience that cannot be replicated for the guest! The hotel industry must go above and beyond to be part of forming the perception of the guest before they even step foot on the property. Automation is making it too easy for your team to hide behind the curtain of platforms and processes. They serve a purpose, but it does not SERVICE your guests in the way that a human connection can. READ MORE

Karyn Buxman

Customer satisfaction is paramount in the hotel industry. Executives must hire, train and empower people who can problem solve to provide the best customer service. But teaching them how to say "Yes" isn't enough. Where does that leave them when the answer really is "No"? Smart executives expand upon the "Culture of Yes" to include the culture of "Yes and..." Empowering employees with the skills of humor and improv provide them the flexibility and creativity to move beyond traditional problem solving skills. The ability to manage customers' perceptions and create positive experiences despite seemingly negative circumstances can provide organizations with a competitive edge. READ MORE

Emily Loupee

The future of the hotel industry is decidedly futuristic, with automated drapes and floors that light up in the dark when you step on them. The endless capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) provide hotels with innumerable ways to give guests a more convenient, enhanced experience. Yet, the danger of turning devices into a smart device means they can now be used as a gateway for a hacker or cybercriminal. Hotels incorporating AI and IoT technology into their guest experience need to be aware of what they're exactly offering and the steps needed to prevent cyberattacks. READ MORE

Frederick Cerrone

Fred Cerrone has celebrated 50 years in the hospitality industry. His genuine love of people drew him to a business that thrives on guest service. Over five decades, it's hard to calculate the number of guests his career has touched. When he founded his own firm, he developed a set of Value Statements as guidelines for the firm's associates. In this article, he shares how three of those statements impact the treatment of guests. Acknowledging that guests are human and aren't always right, he points out that they must always be treated as guests! READ MORE

Ed Blair

Guest service is at the core of what we provide; our "product" as an industry. In determining how each individual hotel defines service, we must know our unique independent brand. As hotel leaders, we must ensure that our building, our staff, collateral and marketing all reflect the level of service and message that we want to communicate to our guests. To start, we must ensure that all hotel staff members are treated with great worth, value, dignity and respect. To truly drive results and deliver fantastic service, we must find the right people, treat them well and hold them to high standards. READ MORE

Mike Benjamin

Every hotel management team strives to create a service oriented culture. In today's fast pace world of technology, guest expectations and demands continue to go up every year. The best management teams realize that building a service oriented culture is much more than finding the right people and training them on the soft skills. Strong leaders realize hotels need to adopt technology and build a culture where preventing problems is as important as solving problems and staff are able to perform their job more effectively using the latest tools available. READ MORE

R.J. Friedlander

The methods we use have changed, but the cornerstone to great hospitality stays the same: great guest service and great guest experience. While service resolution has traditionally been in reaction to guest complaints after the fact, today we have can proactively catch issues or needs much earlier in the stay and deliver better results than ever. With the tools to gather guest feedback via a number of channels from various touchpoints and the processes to action operational and service improvements accordingly, we can leverage a combination of reactive and proactive methods to deliver exceptional guest experience. READ MORE

Robert Reitknecht

Industry leaders recognize the importance of culture and people for driving customer satisfaction in addition to technology and business processes. Hospitality organizations stand to significantly gain by focusing on these fundamentals, demonstrated by leading brands like The Ritz-Carlton and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Research shows that engaged companies can grow profits as much as three times faster than competitors with employees who are 87% less likely to leave. Hotels must create a defined strategy for attracting, engaging and retaining the right people with the right cultural values to better compete and drive guest satisfaction. READ MORE

Mark Ricketts

In the midst of a busy day caring for guests, it is easy to get caught up in the policies and protocols of the many challenging tasks at hand. But, what happens when a novel challenge presents itself; and how do we build an organizational structure that inspires great guest service? The answer is in having a great foundation of shared values to guide our actions, inspire confidence and demonstrate that we can make a meaningful contribution to the guest experience. READ MORE

Alexander Shashou

When we look at other industries, we see how the likes of Uber and Amazon have revolutionized the face of customer service through technology. For something so important to hospitality, it's crazy to think that so little has changed. The problem is that the fragmented nature of technology used within a hotel makes operations and communication extremely challenging. It undermines staff confidence and impacts what all hotels strive for the most – an exceptional guest experience. Isn't it time for us to work with technology that bridges these silos and enables your staff to focus on what they should really be doing? READ MORE

Steve Curtin

In this article, based on an experience in October 2018 at a boutique hotel in Philadelphia, we will examine customer service quality that contradicts the organization's stated values and lofty mission statement. Too often, management assumes that the goal of managing performance is to ensure employees possess adequate job knowledge and demonstrate sufficient job skills; that is, to be deemed capable. But subpar service quality rarely has to do with frontline service providers' competency. More likely, service quality suffers due to a disconnect between employees' daily job responsibilities and an enduring organizational purpose. READ MORE

Kurt Meister

While a slip or fall remains the most common cause of guest injuries, a hotel's largest risk exposure may lie in the water. Legionella outbreaks have been reported at several hotels nationwide. This deadly bacterium can be fatal. When it spreads, it affects multiple guests. And when your hotel receives a claim, you may not be covered if your insurance policy includes a bacteria exclusion. This article walks through common causes of guest injuries – from legionella and E. coli to bed bugs and molestation – and offers best practices for preventing injuries, protecting your hotel and safeguarding your guests. READ MORE

Bonnie Knutson

Somewhere along the way, we came to believe that all it takes to generate value, loyalty, and great ambassadors for our hotel are outstanding facilities, programs, and services. And don't forget those loyalty programs. While that may have been true back in the 20th Century, it is no longer enough in 2019; these qualities are just expected in a hotel. To provide the kind of experiences that will drive guest value and hotel revenues, it takes more than top facilities and good service. In this article, you will learn how a Gum Ball Machine can point your way into this Experience Economy. READ MORE

Herve Tardy

In the quest to put the customer first, many hotel chains are reevaluating their approach to IT. The advancement of cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT) technology and enhanced mobile connectivity has created new possibilities to improve the guest experience. However, capitalizing on these capabilities means moving away from traditional, centralized IT and implementing a hybrid IT system. Migration brings its own set of challenges when it comes to network and power management. In this article, global power management company Eaton addresses these challenges and shares strategies to help companies improve critical data protection as they shift toward decentralized IT. READ MORE

Priyanko Guchait, PhD

Approximately 48 million people annually are sickened due to foodborne illness, which equates to roughly one sixth the population of the United States (U.S.), with128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths per year. The estimated annual economic costs related to foodborne illness are approximately $77 billion. Foodborne illness is an urgent problem that threatens the health of people and generates significant economic losses. How can hotels and restaurants take action to reduce the alarming numbers of food safety errors and violations? READ MORE

Chelsey Leffet

After a long Request for Proposal process, Amazon finally revealed its two locations for HQ2 in 2018-Long Island City, New York, and Crystal City, Virginia. Despite recent trials and tribulations regarding the Long Island City location, which ultimately ended in Amazon pulling its plans to establish a presence there, the Amazon HQ2 plans for Northern Virginia remain strong. Among the anticipated near- and long-term benefits of HQ2 is an influx of new hotel demand. The Washington, D.C. and New York City HVS Consulting & Valuation teams examine the potential impact on northern Virginia's lodging market in the following article. READ MORE

John Mavros

Hotel Managers are on the frontlines of preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring in the workplace. They are in the best position to spot warning signs that harassment may be occurring and they are most likely to be the first person an employee confides in with a complaint. As such, it is important that managers are equipped to stop harassment and any future harassment lawsuits in their tracks. This article details a "5 Step Plan for Managers" in the midst of the growing #MeToo movement to help them foster harassment free workplaces. READ MORE

Bruce Tracey

The term 'Future of Work' (FoW) has quickly become part of our everyday lexicon and has arrived with very real-world implications for companies and firms across the globe. Hospitality organizations are certainly not going to be an exception. From dizzying advances in FoW technology and consequential job design, to sweeping workforce demographic changes, to the reality of having to leverage greater numbers of agile/on-demand talent, hospitality companies will need to rely even more on their HR functions to navigate these inevitabilities. All this, on top of an industry already with a bit of an image problem. This article discusses some of the implications of FoW for the hospitality industry and presents three questions for organizations to ponder as they begin to adopt the necessary strategies, tactics, and practices to support FoW. READ MORE

Diane Tighe

Wellness is an essential component for planners to incorporate into their 2019 meetings and events, focusing on the complete physical, mental and social well-being of their attendees. The top meeting trend prediction comes as the theme of wellness grows rapidly on a global scale. Diane Tighe of Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and JB Duke Hotel on the campus of Duke University shares recommendations for physical, mental and social wellness for planners to incorporate in 2019. With nearly 20 years of experience, Diane is a Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) and an active member of NACE since 2001. READ MORE

Nancy Obstler

"My pleasure." Though just two words and three syllables, this simple phrase can serve as the cornerstone for a hotel's delivering on a great guest experience. I have found that by training associates to not only say but to also consistently live this creed can make a difference in the success of a property. So, how do we develop quality hotel associates to try to be better every day? How do we make guest service a priority of every hotel associate's job function, regardless of the department in which they are engaged? READ MORE

Adria Levtchenko

Insuring that workers are safe on the job is an issue that is increasingly in the spotlight. While it applies to the entire hotel staff, it is especially relevant to those who often work in isolation, with housekeepers being a prime example. The industry is responding with new programs that include devices which staff can activate to signal an emergency alert when in distress, i.e. personal safety devices (PSDs). A safer workplace also contributes to employee confidence and satisfaction, augments health and wellness, and aids in reducing worker compensation exposures. This article explores the role of technology in achieving these goals. READ MORE

S. Lakshmi Narasimhan

Revenue management has in the past decade or more redefined the traditional and archaic reservation function. It took reservation from an administrative and often clerical function and placed it front and center as a business strategy. It has had its challenges during this time but has reinvented itself multiple times proving it sustainability. Cross Selling was one such reinvention phase. Its promise of integration of revenue streams delivering incremental revenues is a powerful factor since the paranoia that owners have of year on year growth is take care of. It puts a smile on stakeholders faces - a dream not just for every hotel revenue manager but the entire management. READ MORE

Lawrence Adams

The explosive increase of hotel brands in recent years has reached an astounding level. Smith Travel Research recently listed 1,073 brands globally. Of the major hotel companies, Marriott, following its merger with Starwood, has accumulated 30 brands; Hilton has 14 brands, AccorHotels has 34 and InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) has 14. New independent brands continue to pop up at a rapid rate fueled in large part by the insatiable appetite of millennials for new and unique experiences in their lodging choices. In this article we explore the advantages and disadvantages of brand proliferation and look at some of the unique new brands in some detail to understand their appeal. READ MORE

John Tess

A quarter of the population, millennials are increasingly a targeted hotel consumer. Boutique hotels historically presented an alternative to standardized chain. Their edge however has been eroded by the arrival of soft brands, such as the Marriott Autograph and Hilton Curio. Portland, Oregon-based Provenance Hotels, with 2,500 rooms under its control, attempts to expand on the boutique hotel by creating a truly unique place. As envisioned by its President, Bashar Wali, Provenance Hotels defines its audience as "forward thinking creatives" and sees its opportunity by smaller-scale properties that provide a more handcrafted or curated approach to design, operation and experience READ MORE

Rocco Bova

It has been a long journey for boutique hotels. In the last 40 years (or so), this concept has dramatically changed the landscape of standard, box-type hotels selling average experiences and mostly clean rooms and hot breakfast. The disruption continues with the birth of similar-ish concepts that have evolved as well as how they are perceived around the world. I have followed this phenomenon for many years now and I hope you will enjoy my point of view and insights on this topic. READ MORE

Coming up in July 2022...

Hotel Spa: Now More Than Ever

In the aftermath of the global health crisis, there is a newfound appreciation for the need to be fit - both in body and mind - and hotels that provide a spa or wellness clinic will reap the rewards. What are clients seeking? Better health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep and mindfulness. It is no longer sufficient for spas to only offer massages or facials; clients are demanding more for the benefit of their overall well-being. For example, a medical spa might offer services such as botox, dermal fillers, body sculpting, and microdermabrasion. Other spas are emphasizing the importance of preventative therapeutics and are using technologies such as body scanners to evaluate their clients' health. Some spas are enlisting osteopaths, naturopaths, fitness coaches, yoga masters, even psychologists, to promote vitality, stress management, and emotional balance. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these and other advancements, and document how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.