How Effortless is it to Do Business with Your Hotel?

Kill the WOW and be Effortless Instead…

By Janet Gerhard Founder, Hospitality Gal, LLC | January 25, 2015

What is the most important question hoteliers should be asking themselves as they weigh how to differentiate in a sea of sameness? Most would think it’s about customer satisfaction. Many would drill down into issues related to their NPS (net promoter score). But new research from CEB has shown that the key question to ask is: How effortless is it to do business with your hotel? The predictive power of customer effort has proven to be strong. CEB found that of the customers who reported low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, and 88% said they would increase their spending. Only 1% said they would speak negatively about the company. Conversely, 81% of the customers who had a hard time solving their problems reported an intention to spread negative word of mouth. Today, effortless trumps “wow.”

I have been writing for HBR a few years on the subject of customer experience and there is an increasing focus on guest service as a key business differentiator. Those of us who have been in the industry for a while have seen our share of customer experience initiatives and improvement efforts. This topic isn’t new, but what makes it so hard?

Our Sameness

Our sameness is how Westin's Heavenly® Bed or some version of it permeates nearly every brand in every category of our industry. Our sameness is how the Service Promise is as ubiquitous as the nightstand bible. They may have different covers on the outside, but once you open them up does the average layman know the difference? I can feel the marketers cringing. I can hear the gasps of the brand teams who’ve worked so hard relating your brands to your desired perceptions. I have to wonder if this nuance is observable to the average traveler.

Yes, we’ve created category distinctions. If we were being honest though, those are mostly driven by amenities versus guest service. For example, in shopping for Spring Break with little kids you don’t spend an extra $1,000 on your Disney resort for the service. You do it for the direct access to the parks and not wanting to be herded on and off the shuttle buses for three days. Okay, perhaps that specific example is unfair since there aren’t truly a lot of options to choose from eight weeks out.

A more realistic example is the business traveler shopping the full service category. We know from many years of research cleanliness, location and price are big factors in likelihood to return and recommend. Some are a bigger trump card than others. Assuming all those are relatively equal - and we know they undoubtedly are given our propensity to follow the leader - what does differentiate us?

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Coming up in May 2018...

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.