What Hotels Can Learn From Award-Winning Hospitals

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | April 10, 2011

There are many types of recognition for employers to strive to achieve. Among the most difficult to earn is The Employer of Choice® Award. This challenging designation is awarded to public, private, or nonprofit employers that demonstrate effective implementation of best practices in attracting, developing, and retaining outstanding people. This distinction places employers in an elite group of only 29 organizations total from across the country that have ever earned the distinction.

Create a "Safe Place" for Open Discussion

One of the leading healthcare organizations in Illinois, Memorial Health System of Springfield (MHS) is a community-based, not-for-profit, operating three hospitals, out-patient facilities, and dozens of physician practices in the area.

To accomplish its goal of reforming their culture, MHS developed “The Great Place to Work Shop”, a weekly forum for leaders. The purpose was to provide a structured opportunity for them to examine survey results, interact and strategize, and receive training focused on best practices in leadership. They focused on and discussed different topics each week. Professionals from the "people division" were always available to meet one-on-one with leaders to further explore specific issues and challenges facing their departments.

The reasons for success of The Great Place to Work Shop are twofold: MHS created the workshops as “safe zones”. Whatever people discussed in the work shop stayed in the workshop; leaders felt safe talking about their challenges and sharing ideas, insights, and suggestions with each other.

Second, while leaders were taught how to use the survey results to make changes, they were encouraged not to own the process. Since the survey results unveiled each department’s view of employee engagement, they wanted each and every employee in that department to own their results. Moreover, MHS wanted the front-line employees to share their voice on what could/should be done to improve the situation. Working together, department leaders and their staffs embraced the need to develop and implement their own departmental plans to improve employee engagement.

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Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.