Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. 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.

Library Archives

Zoe Connolly

Technologies like the internet of things (IoT) and Amazon's Alexa are poised to increase guest expectations and disrupt operation in ways that many hoteliers haven't yet considered. Bots, location-based services are generally understood as technologies that will directly impact properties, but one area that seems likely to disrupted in the near future is the hiring process, where managers will need to strike a balance between hiring for attitude, and hiring for tech-savvy. READ MORE

Joe Bocherer

Customer service means delivering on every possible detail at every customer and guest touchpoint. It is anticipating needs, needs that a client or guest may not even realize they have. Customer service is about making someone feel good, putting a smile on their face, and leaving them not wanting anything more - it is hospitality in its purest form. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work for organizations that truly believe in the importance of customer service. Now I'm at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA), the epicenter of Atlanta's hospitality district, where we, along with our partners, including the City of Atlanta, are creating the blueprint for customer service. READ MORE

Nigel Cossey

Ever wish you could be several places at once to meet the diverse demands of the hospitality workplace? At times, mere minutes can matter to convert a frustrated traveler into a happy hotel guest, and there may not be time for a manager to initially get involved. While there is growing use of technology to address the ever-changing needs of travelers, particularly millennial travelers, the role of hotel associates at all levels to ensure an exceptional guest stay is paramount. So how can you create that “can do” workplace culture that empowers associates to confidently act to deliver on excellent guest satisfaction? READ MORE

Shayne Paddock

Empowered employees are engaged employees. Engaged hotel staff results in higher guest satisfaction and ultimately higher profits. The Gallup Organization reports that companies with higher-than-average employee engagement had 27 percent higher profits, 50 percent higher sales and 50 percent higher guest loyalty. Engaged employees result in higher retention rates. Turnover costs can run anywhere from 25 percent to 250 percent of a position's annual salary. According to a Deloitte Hospitality report in the U.S. the average employee turnover is 31 percent, while it ticks up to 34 percent in the UK. With percentages like that can you really afford to have disengaged staff running your hotel? READ MORE

Naomi Stark

Trait: a distinguishing quality or characteristic, typically one belonging to a person. If you were to name one dominant trait of each person on your team, what would it be? What traits will your new hires possess? Find out before you put your guests in their hands. Learn how your prospective employees feel about empowerment before you attempt to empower them. If it isn't their job, then this isn't their job! Actual situations presented during the interview will give you needed insight into the traits of your prospective employee, and whether or not, they will harmonize with your cultural goals. READ MORE

Mike Benjamin

Problem resolution techniques have been practiced for years in the lodging industry and compensation is still a common practice to satisfy a frustrated customer. This article explores problem resolution processes and other common practices used by successful hotels to improve guest satisfaction. With the importance of review site ratings, top hotels are going far beyond guest surveys and review sites to respond to guest feedback. The article explains how the best hotels use technology and management processes for handling real time response to guest issues and proactive guest recognition to personalize the guest experience during the guest stay. READ MORE

Hans Ritten

Guest service is an extremely important factor for ensuring we, as hoteliers in the customer service industry, are providing positive, memorable experiences for our guests. High stress situations are additional guest service opportunities. It is imperative that our Team Members are empowered to make decisions on the spot in order to rectify situations that may arise. In order for empowerment amongst Team Members to exist and be successful, empowerment needs to be a vital part of the service culture; training needs to be a priority; and ways to measure and track results need to be established. READ MORE

Richard Graham

Following The Fontaine's remodel and rebranding in December of 2017, we decided it was a crucial turning point in the hotel's future. Success is dependent on evolution and we knew with the ever-changing hospitality and travel industries we were at a crossroad in the industry. In order to adapt with the current hotel trends, we had to re-organize our goals and come up with a game-plan for the future of the hotel. This included focusing on the little things that act as the building blocks for an experiential experience for our guests. We strive to give guests a memorable stay that would further enrich their lives as travelers. READ MORE

Bob Megazzini

Hotels need to change the way that we interact with guests and work harder to offer unique new experiences to create vibrant places that people want to go to - not just through. Successful ideas that I have implemented at my hotels have included supporting local artists, better embracing four-legged guests, working with local non-profits and getting children involved in the check-in process. These simple steps can help move the guest experience from transactional to experiential and ultimately boost revenues, lengthen stays and elevate the service industry as a whole. READ MORE

Allison Ferguson

The elite travel experience has changed considerably - in ways that have both enhanced and commoditized it. The advent of digital technology has been a boon to travelers and resulted in a renaissance in the travel industry. The ever-evolving needs of modern travelers mean that providing the same service interactions to every guest all the time can actually lead to frustration and disloyalty. Rather than provide a “one-size-fits-all” approach to guest service, hoteliers should instead leverage loyalty program data, and the program benefits matrix, to provide guests with what they most desire: an experience uniquely tailored to the moment. READ MORE

Scott Hale

You get it. Your guests always win. Your Team gets it too. The guest is never wrong, and they're supposed to do all that they can to ensure every guest enjoys an off-the-charts experience. That's easier to say than to do. Even if your Team is trained to authentically offer exquisite service, they may still face barriers to success. And, your guests may still feel like their experience was acceptable, but not exceptional. What's missing? It's not what's missing, but what's in the way. Exceptional experiences are seamless - not perfect. Rather than preach perfection, you, your Team, and your guests would be better-suited to zero-in on your organizational speed bumps. Replacing your Team's speed bumps with launch pads will help you cultivate off-the-charts and dynamically differentiated guest experiences. READ MORE

Robert Reitknecht

Evolving guest preferences, expectations and behaviors have introduced a new era of hospitality; one that goes beyond concepts like "personalization" and "boutique hoteling." Today, leaders must reimagine the role of the hotel in an experiential age where relationships matter more than service. The idea of delivering everything under the sun is becoming increasingly irrelevant as guests seek special attention from brands that individuate. This is more than just a guest experience strategy, and it goes beyond the service that happens within the walls of a property. In an experiential age, guests care less about frills and more about an experience where they feel incredibly connected to a hotel based on its unique identity. READ MORE

Steve Curtin

The story and characters that follow may be fiction but the performance improvement principles shared are very real. Too many managers define the totality of their employees' job roles strictly in terms of job function: possessing adequate job knowledge and demonstrating sufficient job skills. And success is determined by whether or not employees are capable of consistently executing assigned transactions. But little time or attention is paid to employees' job essence: their purpose - their highest priority - at work. Too often, employees are assigned routine tasks to work on, rather than an inspiring purpose to work toward. READ MORE

Rachel Moniz

Working with the HEI Hotels portfolio of hotels to bring life to the brand principles and significant attributes (also called brand pillars), a primary goal is to build confidence in the hotel associates and reinforce the notion that empowerment means taking action any time you can to make guests happy. Equally important, is the associate environment where the correlation of a positive associate experience with a positive guest experience and having the tools, resources, and trust is critical to feeling empowered. The brand pillars must be pulled through internally and externally in order to ring true. This article expands on brand pull through and empowerment in the workplace. READ MORE

Sapna Mehta Mangal

Altruistic behavior is associated with an act that is purely selfless and truly noble. An altruistic organization culture can beget quality service which in turn can beget opulent reviews. This behavior can also impact positive morale among guest service staff thus boosting overall work performance. Hiring front-line employees with certain personality traits can guarantee hues of selflessness on the job. It is an employee's inner desire to display selfless acts towards guests, and a leader's goal to cultivate organizational citizenship behavior among its employees. A hotel property that embraces internal and external altruistic behavior will truly reap its benefits. READ MORE

Megan Wenzl

Both the business and leisure traveler utilize Google today when searching for a hotel. And those travelers are looking for what guests have to say about hotels online, in the form of online reviews. Hotel professionals must focus on the guest experience to build a positive online brand reputation so that consumers book a room or event. This article will discuss how to create an online environment in which it's easy for guests to leave online reviews - and for consumers to find you. It will also discuss why it's important to analyze guest feedback online to use to ultimately improve guest satisfaction. READ MORE

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.