Managing Guest Expectation Delivers Exceptional Customer Service

By Gary Isenberg President, LWHA Asset & Property Management Services | September 02, 2018

A hotel can be constructed of the finest materials, decorate its interior with sleek furniture, offer several appetizing F&B options, and pack its rooms with every amenity imaginable, yet still fail to receive excellent customer service scores. Why? It's because at its core, the lodging business is really all about providing guest service.

As every business serving consumers knows, keeping - or losing - loyal clients hinges on providing superior customer service. Fortunately, realizing the downside of a bad encounter with a customer, companies in all industries have apparently upped their customer service game, at least according to American Express's 2017 Customer Service Barometer. The AmEx Barometer found a sharp uptick in customer service satisfaction with more 80% of consumers saying businesses had met or exceeded their customer service expectations, a notable leap from 67% in 2014.

Since we live in the age of Yelp reviews, this newfound focus on providing great customer service isn't surprising. In the past, if a company messed up its customer service delivery, it would simply apologize and the public would (reluctantly) accept it. This is no longer the case.

Today's consumers are much less forgiving. One poor customer service experience and consumers will bolt toward a company's competitor. The AmEx survey, while documenting overall consumer satisfaction, supports this claim: More than half of the consumers who responded indicated that a bad service incident stopped them from a planned purchase or transaction. One third of respondents said it would take only one poor experience to drive them to another company.

This is especially true in the lodging business, where guests can vent immediately on social media. They don't have to wait to fill out the guest survey scorecard left in the hotel room.

There are no second chances when it comes to correcting a disappointing customer service encounter, particularly in today's age of Twitter, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. One bad review means not only losing that customer, but anyone who reads the damning critique.

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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.