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.

Library Archives

Scott Hale

If you're like most hoteliers, you're always on the lookout for ways to differentiate your venue and enhance your Team and Guest experience. You've got things that you'd like to start doing, things that you'd like to stop doing, and things that you'd like to do better. Is spending on yes in your plans? If it's not, it should be. If you spend on yes, you'll transform your venue. You'll demonstrate to your Team and your Guests that you value and trust them. Assessing your yes will get you off to a good start. Next, empowering your Team to seamlessly spend on yes will better serve your guests and ensure that they enjoy a truly memorable experience worth sharing and repeating. READ MORE

Shayne Paddock

If every answer to a complicated guest request is that it requires the approval of management then the opportunity to have a personalized guest experience is lost! Empowered employees who are trusted to say yes in the moment become engaged employees and take ownership of the guest's overall satisfaction. When you empower your staff and give them the tools and processes they need to succeed they will feel like leaders in your organization and that they are contributing to the overall success of the hotel. Engaged hotel staff results in higher guest satisfaction and ultimately higher profits. READ MORE

Chris Green

Culture might feel like an overused term: one of those buzzword business concepts that has taken on a life of its own. The reality however, is that a strong professional culture isn't optional it's essential. Culture doesn't just make your hotel a more enjoyable place to work, it also makes it a more enjoyable place to stay. It doesn't just boost employee satisfaction, it enhances guest satisfaction-and leads directly to a stronger bottom line. Understanding the nuts and bolts of how to build and maintain that culture is critical, and includes everything from training and tactics to setting priorities and building personal connections. READ MORE

Dianna Vaughan

Excellent customer service in the hospitality industry is about so much more than providing a pleasant stay for guests. Organizations that wish to be known for their stellar customer service must go above and beyond, not with fulfilling outlandish guest requests, but with prioritizing the guest experience in all aspects from the development of a property's design and food and beverage offerings to the training each team member must complete. The Hilton All Suites brands have found success by not only following this strategy, but by partnering with owners and developers who share the same vision. READ MORE

Chris Charbonnet

At a time when technology and social platforms make guest feedback and reviews more accessible and impactful than ever, a hotel management company's ability to consistently create a memorably outstanding guest experiences is more important than ever before. The best way to make that happen is to create a "culture of yes". That means building a team that's more than just being agreeable, but demonstrates both a willingness and an enthusiasm for responding to guest needs with positivity and problem-solving. Understanding the obstacles to getting there-and the best practices that can help you overcome those challenges-is essential for hotel management excellence. READ MORE

Sara Djubek

Service is not a drive by event, it requires the ability to prepare for sincere and quality interactions. The Goal: An experience that cannot be replicated for the guest! The hotel industry must go above and beyond to be part of forming the perception of the guest before they even step foot on the property. Automation is making it too easy for your team to hide behind the curtain of platforms and processes. They serve a purpose, but it does not SERVICE your guests in the way that a human connection can. READ MORE

Karyn Buxman

Customer satisfaction is paramount in the hotel industry. Executives must hire, train and empower people who can problem solve to provide the best customer service. But teaching them how to say "Yes" isn't enough. Where does that leave them when the answer really is "No"? Smart executives expand upon the "Culture of Yes" to include the culture of "Yes and..." Empowering employees with the skills of humor and improv provide them the flexibility and creativity to move beyond traditional problem solving skills. The ability to manage customers' perceptions and create positive experiences despite seemingly negative circumstances can provide organizations with a competitive edge. READ MORE

Emily Loupee

The future of the hotel industry is decidedly futuristic, with automated drapes and floors that light up in the dark when you step on them. The endless capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) provide hotels with innumerable ways to give guests a more convenient, enhanced experience. Yet, the danger of turning devices into a smart device means they can now be used as a gateway for a hacker or cybercriminal. Hotels incorporating AI and IoT technology into their guest experience need to be aware of what they're exactly offering and the steps needed to prevent cyberattacks. READ MORE

Frederick Cerrone

Fred Cerrone has celebrated 50 years in the hospitality industry. His genuine love of people drew him to a business that thrives on guest service. Over five decades, it's hard to calculate the number of guests his career has touched. When he founded his own firm, he developed a set of Value Statements as guidelines for the firm's associates. In this article, he shares how three of those statements impact the treatment of guests. Acknowledging that guests are human and aren't always right, he points out that they must always be treated as guests! READ MORE

Ed Blair

Guest service is at the core of what we provide; our "product" as an industry. In determining how each individual hotel defines service, we must know our unique independent brand. As hotel leaders, we must ensure that our building, our staff, collateral and marketing all reflect the level of service and message that we want to communicate to our guests. To start, we must ensure that all hotel staff members are treated with great worth, value, dignity and respect. To truly drive results and deliver fantastic service, we must find the right people, treat them well and hold them to high standards. READ MORE

Mike Benjamin

Every hotel management team strives to create a service oriented culture. In today's fast pace world of technology, guest expectations and demands continue to go up every year. The best management teams realize that building a service oriented culture is much more than finding the right people and training them on the soft skills. Strong leaders realize hotels need to adopt technology and build a culture where preventing problems is as important as solving problems and staff are able to perform their job more effectively using the latest tools available. READ MORE

R.J. Friedlander

The methods we use have changed, but the cornerstone to great hospitality stays the same: great guest service and great guest experience. While service resolution has traditionally been in reaction to guest complaints after the fact, today we have can proactively catch issues or needs much earlier in the stay and deliver better results than ever. With the tools to gather guest feedback via a number of channels from various touchpoints and the processes to action operational and service improvements accordingly, we can leverage a combination of reactive and proactive methods to deliver exceptional guest experience. READ MORE

Robert Reitknecht

Industry leaders recognize the importance of culture and people for driving customer satisfaction in addition to technology and business processes. Hospitality organizations stand to significantly gain by focusing on these fundamentals, demonstrated by leading brands like The Ritz-Carlton and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Research shows that engaged companies can grow profits as much as three times faster than competitors with employees who are 87% less likely to leave. Hotels must create a defined strategy for attracting, engaging and retaining the right people with the right cultural values to better compete and drive guest satisfaction. READ MORE

Mark Ricketts

In the midst of a busy day caring for guests, it is easy to get caught up in the policies and protocols of the many challenging tasks at hand. But, what happens when a novel challenge presents itself; and how do we build an organizational structure that inspires great guest service? The answer is in having a great foundation of shared values to guide our actions, inspire confidence and demonstrate that we can make a meaningful contribution to the guest experience. READ MORE

Alexander Shashou

When we look at other industries, we see how the likes of Uber and Amazon have revolutionized the face of customer service through technology. For something so important to hospitality, it's crazy to think that so little has changed. The problem is that the fragmented nature of technology used within a hotel makes operations and communication extremely challenging. It undermines staff confidence and impacts what all hotels strive for the most – an exceptional guest experience. Isn't it time for us to work with technology that bridges these silos and enables your staff to focus on what they should really be doing? READ MORE

Steve Curtin

In this article, based on an experience in October 2018 at a boutique hotel in Philadelphia, we will examine customer service quality that contradicts the organization's stated values and lofty mission statement. Too often, management assumes that the goal of managing performance is to ensure employees possess adequate job knowledge and demonstrate sufficient job skills; that is, to be deemed capable. But subpar service quality rarely has to do with frontline service providers' competency. More likely, service quality suffers due to a disconnect between employees' daily job responsibilities and an enduring organizational purpose. READ MORE

Coming up in March 2020...

Human Resources: Confronting a Labor Shortage

With the unemployment rate at its lowest level in decades (3.7%), what has always been a perennial problem for human resource professionals - labor shortage - is now reaching acute levels of concern. It is getting harder to find and recruit qualified applicants. Even finding candidates with the skills to succeed in entry-level positions has become an issue. In addition, employee turnover rates remain extremely high in the hotel industry. As a result of these problems, hotel HR managers are having to rethink their recruitment strategies in order to hire the right talent for the right job. First, hotels have been forced to raise their wages and offer other appealing perks, as a way to attract qualified candidates. Secondly, HR managers are reassessing their interviewing techniques, focusing less on the answers they receive to questions and more on observable behavior. Part of this process includes role-playing during the interview, so that the recruiter can gauge how a candidate works through specific problems and interacts with other team members. Additionally, some HR managers are also creating internal talent pools as a way to address labor shortages. Instead of utilizing department resources to find new hires with specific skills for needed positions, hotels are cultivating talent pools internally and preparing their employees to assume leadership roles whenever the time comes. They are also placing greater emphasis on a company culture that is more performance-based, as a way to curb employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction, and assure higher levels of customer service. Finally, recognizing the importance of employee retention as a way to lessen the impact of a tight labor market, some HR managers are instituting generous reward programs in order to retain their top performers. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these and other issues in their departments.