Maximizing Motivation: How to Get the Most out of Hotel Employees

By Rick Garlick Vice President, Strategy Consultant, Magid | March 03, 2019

There is near universal acceptance that having motivated employees is a prerequisite to delivering a positive customer experience. While it is hard to think of any industry where this isn't true, there is probably no environment where it is truer than the hospitality industry. Hospitality is an incredibly high touch experience for guests, who are likely to encounter many employees during their stay, and each of those interactions drives their willingness to return to both that property, and other properties in the portfolio.

Even as hotel brands are advancing technology to drive guest satisfaction, at the end of the day, the hospitality experience is about people, not buildings or technology tools. It is no coincidence that the most beautiful and well-appointed hotel buildings in the world are also staffed with the most attentive and guest-oriented staff. Just think of how many online reviews mention the people that served them, both the good and the bad. It is unlikely that a seamless mobile experience or having Amazon Alexa in the room, ready to serve, could provide the same level of guest satisfaction.

The concept of successful employee engagement in the hospitality environment is driven by three things: (1) hiring people who have a natural affinity toward serving others; and (2) supporting the employee's efforts through an accommodating service culture; and (3) providing the proper incentives, rewards, and recognition to reinforce positive performance. Employee performance is a result of both nature (e.g., talent, attitude) and nurture (e.g., proper motivators).

W. Edwards Deming once said, "A bad system will beat a good person every time." As long as hotels have enough applicants to select from to hire talented guest-facing employees (which may not always be the case), it becomes a matter of supporting those employees through both a positive service culture and proper performance reinforcers. While much can be said about the need to foster a service-oriented culture, the focus of this article is understanding workforce motivators that stimulate employee performance.

Here are several key points to keep in mind for maximizing motivation, especially among hospitality team members:

1. A paycheck is an expectation, not a universal motivator

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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.