Have You Made Your New Year's Resolutions Yet?

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | July 20, 2014

Okay, be honest. Are you one of the 317 million adults in the US who do? Now, fess up. Are you one of the 300 million who don't keep it up for at least a year? I'm talking about making New Year's Resolutions.

Americans seem to love a new year. It marks a fresh beginning. We wipe the last year's slate clean and can start anew. It is no surprise that 45% of us regularly resolve to do something to improve ourselves when the calendar flips over. Another 17% of us sometimes do. And it's no surprise that, of these, only 75% keep it up for a whole week, while less than two-thirds last the first month. The percent slips to less than half (46% to be exact) at the six month mark.

Why the drop off? Simple, it is hard to change an old habit. It is hard to change behavior. As the Lay's Potato Chip commercial says, Try eating just one. Most of our resolutions have to do with getting healthier, more organized, learning something new, or enjoying family and life more fully. We all want to get better, be happier, and feel accomplished.

Now you are probably wondering why you are reading about New Year's resolutions in this issue of Hotel Executive? It's past the summer solstice. It's sunny and warm. The flowers are in full bloom, children are splashing around in the outdoor pool, and adults are the sitting in lounge chairs enjoying one of those fruity drinks with a little paper umbrella stuck in the glass. You are relishing the results of the hotel's summer get-away specials and are already planning fall weekend deals.

So why would you even contemplate New Year's Resolutions now when it is more than half way through the year? It's simple. It's never too late to start. But just as this is true for yourself, it is also true for your hotel. First, a more basic question: Do you even make resolutions for your hotel? If you don't, it isn't too late to start that either. If you could turn the calendar back to January 1st, what resolutions would you make for your property? For your staff? For your marketing plans? In a hats- off-to-David Letterman, here are five to give your thinking aout a fresh mid-year start.

Differentiate. Stand Out. Break Through the Clutter. Peter Drucker once defined leadership as "thinking through the organization's mission, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly." At the beginning of the 21st century, marketing guru, Jack Trout, author of Differentiate or Die, said that in this age of killer competition, he would change the definition to "thinking through the organization's difference, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly." I totally agree. So resolve that what you do at your hotel, differentiates its brand, products, and services so it stands apart from the competition and stays in the top spot of consumers' minds. In other words, think beyond just setting a piece of chocolate on the bedside table at night.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.