5 Ways to Shift Your Guest Interactions into Future Sales

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | November 07, 2010

Every interaction with a guest is an opportunity - an opportunity to exceed expectations, an opportunity to guarantee he or she returns in the future and an opportunity to build consumer loyalty. Loyalty leads to more sales, more referrals, and also more leniency when things don't go perfectly.

I've read that a full-service hotel with 300 rooms averages 5,000 staff–guest interactions every day! That is 5,000 opportunities to stumble, or on the other hand, opportunities to shine and demonstrate why your property should be the hotel of choice when a guest is in the area. Here are five ways to ensure you're building loyalty and generating future sales.

1. Know Your Hotel

This is the most basic, and sometimes the least demonstrated, attribute of all hotel employees. Knowing everything about your property is essential to developing new sales. Every staff member should know your property and amenities by heart. They should all be walking, talking brochures for the hotel.

Say you're a golf resort and a guest conversation is taking place in the hallway about lessons. The housekeeper a few feet away overhears this and mentions that the resident pro, Roger, teaches Thursday through Monday and to dial extension 2303 for an appointment. Far-fetched you say? I'd say it's almost a guaranteed sale and most interactions don't require that much specialization.

I stayed at a big-city hotel a few years back, and I arrived around 7 p.m. to check in. I asked about local restaurants within walking distance and the front desk agent sprung into a description of the steakhouse on property. She mentioned that there were a lot of great eating establishments nearby, but the hotel restaurant specialized in dry-aged cuts of steak prepared in a special aging room. That's all I needed to make my decision. Not only did she know about the restaurant (anyone on property should know that), she was able to describe what made that restaurant unique!

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.