Talking Turkey: Lessons Learned from Turkish Hospitality

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson President, Matuson Consulting | October 14, 2012

Those who know me well know that I love to travel. That's why I'm so keen on helping clients in the hospitality industry create memorable experiences for their guests. I'm fortunate in that I've been to more countries than I can remember, but I have never had the pleasure of visiting Turkey until this summer.

Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of Turkish life. The warmth, generosity, and attention to detail leave visitors like myself yearning to return. Here are some lessons direct from Turkey that can be translated easily by hotel providers in any country.

Reputation drives business

Travel decisions are being made today based on the advice of trusted friends (both real and social) and websites like the highly popular Tripadvisor. I can personally attest to the power of brand and reputation when it comes to the spending of tourist dollars, as these both came into play when deciding where to vacation this summer.

I first learned about Turkey when I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations on where to holiday with a family of four over summer break. I received an immediate reply from a friend, who also was a pilot for Continental Airlines, saying that his all-time favorite place was Turkey. How could I not trust the advice of someone who has flown around the world hundreds of times and has visited even more countries than me? He went on to talk about the gracious people of Turkey, and how hospitable everyone is in that country. I was intrigued. A number of friends chimed in with similar posts. A decision was quickly made, and we began the search for hotel accommodations.

Those in the hospitality industry know the importance of having others tout their wonderful experiences at their hotels. Few realize that the experience begins way before the guest ever arrives and continues long after people have departed.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.