Recovering and Proactive Guest Services
By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | July 03, 2011
The overall concern of guest issues, or guest complaints, is something of a norm in the hospitality industry. We should also add guest expectations, or demands, to the above. We see positive and negative scenarios in which we have an opportunity to not only learn from our guests, but also, to learn from our mistakes as hospitality professionals. At the end of the day, we see all of these items as challenges, and the chance to own them give us the power to develop a strong sense of being prepared in this journey, while learning from these moments of truths, documenting them and using them to educate and train our new and existing hospitality professionals.
Without a doubt, once your establishment gets into the flow of always giving that sense of service, anticipating guest needs, empathizing and having a solution ready for pretty much any situation, will add value to the paying guest. They will perceive that they have gotten an outstanding return on investment for their stay/experience. Additionally, with this given factor, you are able to retain rates at your establishment, because you can justify the attention that the competition is not capitalizing on, as they are concerned in cutting essential costs that in the long term, will put them in a detrimental position. This means that they focus on reducing hours, cutting training, or laying off key personnel, for example, rather than adding value to guests who choose to stay with you, and developing a good relationship, which will lead to return guests and positive feedback, which will entice others, and referrals as well.
So how do we identify certain guests services that will help recover a guest encounter gone wrong, and how do we twist it in order to retain that guest? Well, trust will be the key component in this situation. Let's face it, not all things will turn out perfectly as planned. There is always room for improvement, because sometimes, things will fail, regardless of careful execution, even if we as a well known and established hospitality team, followed protocol. There are external and internal forces that we must learn to manage. At the end of the day, you will learn that this is normal, yet we will also consider normal to do something about it to prevent it, and use that example to teach to your employees, so that we minimize the situation from repeating itself, especially to the same guest.
You perhaps may have several scenarios that you could relate to just about anyone, yet they tend to be very "personal", as far as them occurring in your hospitality establishment. However, it is always good to see the fundamentals that can be applied first, and then see where and how they fit when service needs to be executed. Interestingly, we can agree that in any customer service-related industry, we can apply these and make them work to our individual location.
Frankly, I tend to be more of a proactive person, and in theory, this is how we should always be. Maybe you are that type of manager and wish that the operation operates similarly. Now, experience teaches us that we will need to react to certain service situations and apply our knowledge to defuse the situation, while retaining the guest and creating an experience that will be memorable. This is not your typical resort paradise perfect vision, but in reality a sense that you trust the management team and the brand to be on top of everything, whether it was preventative or not. I am sure you have heard such comments from guests such as, "I have been coming here for years and I never had an issue like this", correct? Here is the thing, the reason people truly complain is not to get something for free, it's because they chose the brand for whatever reason, but mainly, because they know what to expect and what the brand/or management company, will do to either remedy or make a situation all better. They complain because they care about the place they like to eat at, or stay at for business or pleasure. If we look at it from this angle, we are already way ahead of ensuring that we, the establishment, are in control.
I will share here some examples that I am sure you will be able to relate to, and perhaps you can use these ideas to install upon your training and vision of your establishment. You will see that all these will lead to creating a true guest experience that will certainly be memorable, add value and be perceived as stronger than any amenity existing in your facility. Sure, they count too, do not get me wrong, yet the moment of truth is priceless when a well trained hospitality professional executes it. Also, make sure that the value given does fall under the expectations of the guest, yet parallel to what the brand can deliver, at its maximum capacity. By that, I mean, if you are a three-star property, do not try to be a four- star proerpty, if not, this will create issues and false expectations that will be costly to you if you cannot/should not deliver.