Virtual Walkathons: Coming to a Hotel Near You

San Francisco Hyatt Hotels Health and Fitness Challenge

By Oliver Ryan CEO, Count.It Labs | July 09, 2017

Managers at Hyatt Regency San Francisco had a battle on their hands - in the best possible way. Determined to do something fun and healthy for their 400 person staff, they launched a challenge on a digital platform that powers fitness tracker-driven wellness programs. The first challenge was so successful, two other Bay Area Hyatts wanted in, and the Battle of the Bay was on. In the end, co-workers at all three properties rose to the occasion, but just one hotel took the gold. It also became clear which person at a major market hotel moves the most.

In the employee cafeterias of the three San Francisco Hyatt Hotels, employees are glued to the big screens - but they are not following a crosstown playoff series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. Instead, they're tracking a brightly colored, ever-changing leaderboard showing which hotel, and which employees, are on top on any given day. Human Resource managers at each property issue weekly email propaganda, including, in one notable case, a digitally altered hip hop dance video featuring the three hotel General Managers urging their people into the fray.

What's going on? The leaderboards in question are continuously fed by employees' fitness tracking apps and wearable devices, and people are battling to see which hotel is the fittest of them all.

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The Leaderboard #HyattLeague

Welcome to workplace wellness in the age of smartphones and wearables - and taken to new heights by hotel executives in the cradle of the tech revolution. At play are bragging rights for the most active hotel, and prizes for top individuals. For the losing hotels comes the obligation to donate hundreds to a local charity supporting the homeless. In short, the stakes are high and good, but there's another pressing question on everyone's mind: Across all the departments at a popular major market hotel, from the front desk to the back office, who moves most? Is it the boss, the bellhop, or the housekeeping worker on the late shift?

"Managers sit at their desk a lot," points out Victor Povzner, IT Director of Hyatt Regency San Francisco, and tech mastermind behind the hotel's initial fitness challenge. "But they also go to the gym, or may go running several times a week."

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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.