The Essence of Customer Service is to Inform and Inspire

By Arman Sadeghi CEO & Founder, Titanium Success | February 05, 2017

The easiest way for hotel executives to succeed is through service – to their staff and guests. For if an executive cannot inspire the former, then he will not be able to honor the needs and demands of the latter. Sometimes it takes an outsider to speak to this community – to address the managers and workers of a hotel – so this group can move forward together.Sometimes it takes a voice of independence to deliver a message of value, which is in fact a summons to strengthen the values of a hotel or a resort: To remind employees of the history of an institution, the heritage of a property and the loyalty of her patrons.

When I have the chance to speak to such a gathering, I try to have a conversation with these people. I have no monologue to rehearse, no soliloquy to recite, no maxims to record. I come to listen, not lecture; I use the microphone as a tool, not a truncheon. I talk about service because that is the one thing every hotelier can offer, that is the one thing every hotelier must provide.

For the hotel executive without a big marketing department, or for the professional running a boutique property without the many features of a nearby competitor, the great equalizer is – and will always be – service. f you exceed a guest's expectations, if you make attentiveness a priority and establish a precedent for discretion, if you stand ready to accommodate a traveler's wants and know how to take a step back to ensure the privacy of each visitor, then you will develop a reputation for – your staff will enjoy acclaim for their commitment to – excellent service. While this point may seem obvious, it is too often the casualty of other projects and misguided agendas.

For example: A hotel may buy an expensive brand of software, something to automate reservations and select candidates for certain upgrades and amenities, or an executive may exhaust his budget on advertising and promotions, while neglecting to write – never bothering to produce – a statement of principles. That is, a hotel executive must clarify what things are indispensable to the success of his business. Beware the hotelier who does not put service at the top of this list. Avoid the individual who thinks service is a luxury, not a necessity.

Strike that: Before abandoning that person, make a first – or final – appeal to reason. Explain the rewards of superb customer service. Describe the dividends a hotel receives because of its investment in customer service. Detail the reaction, from present and potential patrons, when they get – or when they hear about – a property's bespoke brand of customer service. Remember, too, that achieving this goal does not involve mastering technology or studying some arcane system. Everything centers on training: Showing workers what to do and what to say, as well as showing them what not to do and say.

This constant pursuit of perfection requires daily practice. The key to doing this job well is to make the prose of practice invisible to the poetry of an employee's performance, so to speak. Just as a musician does not stop playing if he misses a chord or skips a beat, a hotel worker must make a mental note of an error without disrupting his duties to a guest. That is why, and I write these words from experience, a hotel executive should invite an independent adviser – a messenger with a mission – who can be an advocate for guests and an agent of change.

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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.