Responding to Change and Guest Expectations

By Patrick Connolly Chief Customer Officer, Orange Lake Resorts | March 24, 2019

Hospitality is changing more rapidly now than ever before. Although some is driven by the technological advances that enable us to streamline operations and provide better consumer experiences, most has to do with major shifts in consumer tastes and expectations. This constantly evolving baseline is, for the foreseeable future, the new norm.

It's clear that highly personalized service is becoming a standard expectation. With the advent of the internet and so many choices, more and more consumers are saying this is what I want from my stay. A good example is the growing popularity of bringing comfort animals on vacation. This is a trend many of us didn't see only a few years back, but we have to learn to respond positively.

Guests also expect you to know who they are and what they want-especially if they stayed with you in the past. What keeps my team up at night is a business model that includes satisfying owners who buy timeshare, guests who trade into the resorts from exchange partners and rental (virtual hotel) guests.

In one respect, this gives our organization a distinct advantage over traditional hoteliers. We have, and should know our owners and their past experiences with our products. But with the different types of guests we service, each can require different outcomes to satisfy them. While certain rental guests may look for monetary compensation to correct an issue, our owners are looking for us to fix the situation to provide them a better vacation experience.

Hitting Key Targets

A big part of our service success starts with our four key goals and targets: People, Guest Engagement, Responsible Business and Financial Results. These are integral to our service culture and are constantly reinforced. Financial results are purposely listed last, because when you do the first three well, you'll get the financial results you expect.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.