A Hotel Website Worthy of Its Acclaim

The Rise of the Customer-centric Experience

By Lewis Fein CEO, Lewis Fein Communications | November 15, 2015

Imagine a luxury hotel with a second-rate website, hosted by an unresponsive and (mostly) unaccountable group of overworked and underpaid technicians in the deepest recesses of India, Pakistan or the Philippines.

Picture that physical property with its manicured lawns and teams of topiary experts, trimming and shaping a garden into a verdant dream world of elephants, lions, tigers and giraffes, and compare that scenery with a hotel's mediocre website: A vulnerable assemblage of weeds and digital rot, where hackers and cyber criminals may riot and revel in their thievery, while the overall appearance of that site – as well that obsolete backbone of servers and auxiliary support – undermines any pretense of excellence, loyalty to guests and fidelity to the founding principles of your hotel or resort.

There should not be, and there must not be, a disconnect between the service a hotel provides and the online experience that same organization delivers (or too often fails to achieve). There is no room for error, and there cannot be any intrusion of generic templates and mundane photos at the expense of customized service and colorful design.

Consider these words a call to action, not a rant or a complaint, because I believe it is a hotel executive's responsibility to be as vigilant about the integrity of his property's online identity as he is of its physical image and tangible operation.

A hotel executive must, therefore, be conversant with the nuances of web hosting, domain names, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and virtual and dedicated servers. This assignment is too significant for a hotelier to ignore or pass on to a subordinate; its implications are too serious, and its consequences are too grave, for an executive to dismiss the necessity of this project by having some anonymous IT worker manage this process, unbeknownst to the men and women within the upper echelons of a property.

For, unless a site projects respect for the business or leisure traveler, and without a verbal commitment to superior service and visual confirmation of the same, a hotel's online presence will diminish, its bookings will decline and its reputation will descend into negative publicity.

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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.