Who is the Round Peg For Your Hotel's Square Hole?

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | April 19, 2015

Having just finished presenting a seminar on delighting the customer, I was standing at the front of a large room, taking off the lavaliere microphone, putting my laptop and other materials in my briefcase. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one of the attendees walking, very purposely, up to me. I could tell by the look in his eye that he either had a question or disagreed with a point I had made. Either way, I figured we would be having an interesting conversation. After the usual obligatory introductions, he cocked his head slightly to the left, pointed his finger towards me, and said, "I don't believe in all this delighting stuff; I just give the customer what he expects. No more, no less."

"Oh," I asked, "Why is that?"

"Because if you start trying to delight customers, you just have to do more. You end up adding to your costs, which takes away from your profits. And the more you do, the more they expect. I stick to the basics."

In a way, I couldn't argue with him. There are two things that the attendee missed, however. The first is to understand exactly what delight is. While our friend, the dictionary, has several definitions for delight, basically, it means making someone really happy. In business, delight has taken on a narrower meaning that is closely aligned with the term, lagniappe. If you go back in history, lagniappe entered our lexicon from Louisiana French and Spanish phrases that meant giving a free item, usually very inexpensive. Throughout the years, it has come to mean "a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase…an unexpected...benefit." The operative words here, are inexpensive and unexpected.

The second thing that the attendee missed is the cost aspect. If you have never seen The Simple Truth of Service video clip, I've placed it below so you can check it out...

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.