Empowering the Front Desk to Be Part of an Innovating, Engaging Experience

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By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | March 22, 2015

The Service Panorama

The latest news regarding the overall panorama of hospitality and tourism has been very positive, especially in the lodging industry, which interestingly is demonstrating higher occupancies, and RevPAR being driven by increasing ADRs all across the board. This presents a double-edge sword scenario, (keeping in mind that this is not happening to all establishments, but those in a strong market, which I observe almost all of us are in one) as on one side of the blade, the industry is experiencing a lot of business, so we have the power to decide who we take in (when it comes to reservations and front desk). On the other side of the blade, it tends to create this attitude of "take it or leave it" because we have other people behind you waiting to do business with us without hesitation. I am experiencing both sides of the story here in many service-orientated businesses I deal with, but of course we want to focus on the hotel and similar businesses for the purpose of this article. Here is a great example of this, and I am going to use the front desk/reception area as the key focus, given this is where the majority of the moments of truth are occurring.

Prior to the Great Recession, we either witnessed or experienced the "take it or leave it" attitude given the state of the market at that time. I can certainly say it was a sad thing to see, and guest felt discouraged, with no choice in the matter and have to go with the flow. Once 2008/09 arrived, many markets were realizing how they were wrong in having approached the guest service experience in this matter. Any guests that had the opportunity and pockets to travel and stay in hotels had a choice of where to stay, so logically, price and also the lodging facilities that did not deviate from the hospitality service equation did very well, and reaped the rewards throughout that difficult era. Today, it seems that there is an improvement in the overall take it or leave it" attitude, however, one again, I am seeing that many establishments quickly forget what happened to them during the down times.

Service and Technology Currently

Little by little, this whole talk about the guest experience and the personalization of the guest came about, technology came into play and the lodging industry started to cautiously enter the social media arena in the last few years. It is still a very green and immature area, and at the same time very overwhelming if you ask pretty much about anyone.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.