Complimentary Service That is Uncomplimentary to Service

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | June 05, 2011

It is better to give than to receive... right? What happens when hoteliers give a complimentary stay or experience, a "comp" , to support a special program or fundraiser and the recipient, the lucky "comp" winner, shows up to experience their reward? When that guest begins to make their arrangements, are they treated the same as other guests, better or worse than other guests? And, what value does this guest have for the hotel and the employees if that guest appears to be there 'for free' and not directly contributing to the bottom line? How can hoteliers harness the power of gift certificates and communicate their potential to hotel employee teams?

Based on my survey, I am amazed at how differently properties treat this issue. Some treat the certificate bearer as a pariah and low man on the totem pole and others place huge value with a welcoming spirit-very dramatic differences and perspective!

What kind of marketing and guest service potential is there behind these awards? Should there be guidelines in place to ensure consistent responses and behaviors for these 'free' guests? Could they be powerful new ways to instill or anchor loyalty in new or returning guests? Or, will they end up being 'FREE" gifts that make NO MONEY?

Some hotels and organizations have a philosophy, procedures and orientation in place for their employees in both delivering the awards and receiving them for redemption. Others do not. It appears that each hospitality environment handles these awards differently. Some have standards in place…and some don't.

When seeking donations and potential awards, some hoteliers recognize the value in the presentation BEFORE the award is even given. While a certificate or letter is often the norm, outlining the offering, details, policies and logistics, the packaging and presentation of that gift is quite subjective. It can simply be presented in an envelope or it can be presented as if the award itself was the first stage of welcome/introduction for the future recipient. In fact, the organization presenting the award is actually beginning the "experience" for that future guest.

At the il Lugano Hotel, a luxury boutique property in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a recent comp stay gift to benefit a school fundraising effort, arrived in a beautifully wrapped package, included a soft stuffed bear with the hotel's logo, presented descriptive and inviting collateral materials and provided a thoughtful and warm welcome letter. Even before the gift was awarded, all those at the school had a fantastic impression of the hotel and the property gained several new fans and potential guests. The word of mouth spread in a very positive way, based on this very simple and thoughtful gesture.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.