Educating the Guest on Your Services in Order to be Measured Fairly

What Really Matters to the Hospitality Guest?

By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | April 13, 2014

So what truly matters to the hospitality guest? Their perception/interpretation and quality that we, the hospitality business, have to offer to them. Interestingly, they are more intrigued by the intangible service, or personal service, that they receive from the staff members above everything else. They want employees that care. This is why we need to always have a consistent culture of service be the overall main focus of our success, as this is the most important service component, even more so that the latest trendy tangible products, which you may invest in and offer. Observations and comparisons have time and time again demonstrated that the establishment or hospitality entity that implements the personal service element will do much better that its competitors, even if they are not 100% with the latest and greatest technological features or amenities.

The industry, made up of accommodations, F&B, travel and, many other areas, offers necessary products that guest will need, and however, the guest will always value most, the overall intangible, meaning the service portion of their experience. The hospitality industry has always been a leader in meeting the necessities that guests truly do need in order to have a reasonable service experiences. Let's discuss an example. Perhaps more so in lodging facilities, we observe that they focus on three fundamental service elements. These elements are safety, comfort and cleanliness. These are given and expected and are in fact, elements that each guest needs in order to satisfactorily experience a lodging facility.

There are demands as well, perhaps created over an extended period of time, and due to how society in general looks for in a hotel, restaurant or hospitality experience, that the guest is already accustomed to and have even passed down to younger generations. Additionally, we do see the shift in demand from the younger travelers and consumers, given the technologies of today. This creates, what we observe, as expectations that are not realistic in each particular facility. They will all differ given the brand, size and market. What is good about this overall is that we have certain fundamental standards that all facilities follow, so at minimum, these are being met.

That said the questions for us to ask here, to truly understand what the guest really wants, are:
Has the industry developed certain expectations that guests are, by word of mouth, experiencing and now via reading on the Internet, are expecting from hospitality facilities in general? Without a doubt, this has been the case, and as word of mouth, experience and continuous improvement from surveys, post-hotel or restaurant experiences, have helped us further improve and set a general standard. The most critical thing is to always offer the minimal standards that all hotels or restaurants have to offer. Most likely, comfort, cleanliness and safety would be some of the more critical ones, for instance.

Are we seeing that perhaps we do need to educate our guests as to what to expect from our brand, so that they do not arrive with certain expectations that perhaps are specific to a brand, but not to its competitors? Realistically speaking, this is simple and we do need to ensure that all marketing efforts, especially the Internet marketing strategies that we use, need to be transparent. For example, do not try to set pictures either in brochures or on the website, that look deceiving in order to attract guests. This will come back to haunt you later on. Use what you have to truly attract guest. Most importantly once you did capture their business, practice customer retention strategies (do see other articles here with us that we have written, which give out many ideas). This is key, as you will see that they will get true value for their dollar, as we initially indicated at the beginning. This fundamental will open the positive expectation of the guest. Take a look as a manager and perhaps have some of your employees take a look themselves to see if they agree with what is being marketed to the guest. This helps as we can always learn the true perspective of what a guest may also think. If it is not in line, the opportunity to fix and try to remedy arises.

And perhaps the most critical question of them all, which I think will make the difference, is: Will we have to listen to the guest in order to provide to them with services that they demand? Yes, and one thing I do see that restaurants nor hotels are doing is to ask BEFORE their final step in completing a reservation, or upon arrival, is to ask them and log into a database for future research use, what drove them to choose your business/ establishment. This is critical. This will tell you what they observed, what they were expecting. Ask questions, log their answers during their stay and also use post stay visit comment surveys to capture the end result. You will see the overall experience as how each guest experienced it and you can use this to further improve where you need to continue doing well, and where you need to truly invest in.

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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.