April FOCUS

Guest Service: First Impressions Matter

Guest Service: First Impressions Matter

Hotels spend large amounts of money on marketing their operation and brand, but sometimes they fail to remember that guest service is the lifeblood of their business. It is outstanding guest service that allows a hotel to create an amazing and lasting impression, one that will remain with guests far beyond the duration of their stay. In pre-internet days, first impressions were formed the moment a guest walked through a hotel's front door. These days, first impressions are created long before a guest arrives at a hotel property. They begin when a customer visits a hotel's website or social media pages for the first time. When a guest connects with a property online, they immediately form an opinion of the hotel. First impressions matter and because of that, a hotel website should be mobile-friendly with blistering fast speed; it should be graphically appealing; and it should provide visual representation of the kind of experience a guest can expect. It is also vital to engage the customer; to actively solicit and respond to guest feedback. When a hotel personally engages with someone, it is demonstrating to other customers that guest opinions matter, and that management is willing to go the extra mile to provide superior guest service. Similarly, when a hotel sends out personalized emails with satisfaction surveys attached, it demonstrates that management values guest feedback, so that service can be improved at every level. Additionally, social media messages can be sent out prior to a guest's arrival to learn more about them, so their visit can be personalized. It's the small touches and details that are most remembered and appreciated. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will examine what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate excellent guest service in their operations.



Library Archives

 

Last month's feature articles...

Tom Conran

Employee turnover continues to plague the hospitality industry. In many cases, star employees acquire skills in hotels before transferring to other industries, costing operators valuable time spent training workers. It remains a struggle despite the hotel industry routinely paying above the average national minimum wage, and allowing for near limitless potential for growth. In the majority of cases, workers choose to leave their positions because they feel undervalued, or they encounter resistance from management. There are many ways to reward standout team members and elevate workers who struggle, beyond monetary incentives. Are you doing enough to recognize your property's team members? READ MORE

Mark Van Amerongen

One of the biggest stories in hospitality in recent years is the ongoing-and worsening-labor shortage. Hotel owners and operators have been forced to navigate an increasingly costly and competitive labor landscape, and HR managers in particular have been forced to look for creative new solutions to address personnel challenges. And at a time when the labor market is growing tighter, owner expectations are rising. Consequently, hotel management professionals responsible for hiring are also raising the bar. The costs and consequences of a bad hire have become so significant, that the HR team quite literally can't afford to get it wrong. READ MORE

David Lee

Does your Employer Brand communicate why talented employees would want to work for you in a way that is interesting, persuasive, believable, and memorable? Does it really differentiate you from your competitors in the talent war? If you are NOT using stories in your employer branding, the answer to both questions is and emphatic "No." Claims like "we're a great place to work," "you get to make a difference when you work here," and "come join the A Team" are meaningless and unconvincing. Anybody can claim that, including your competitors. What can differentiate you from them? Stories. Stories make your Employer Brand come to life and demonstrate the truth of your claims. Learn how to use stories to make your Employer Brand more interesting, believable, and memorable, and to separate yourself from the Employer Sea of Sameness. READ MORE

Bruce Smart

It's no secret that employees are the heart of any hotel or casino to deliver quality operations and a high-level of customer service. With the low rate of unemployment across the United States, now it is more important than ever for companies to take a strategic approach to engage and retain quality employees. This article provides information about four approaches for hospitality leaders to consider for their teams – including using behavioral sciences, developing ways to monitor the employee experience, predicting turnover through data science, and approaching your employee marketing the same way your approach customer marketing. READ MORE

Sheetal Singh

With unemployment rate at its lowest in the last few decades, it is critical for employers to create environments that are engaging and improve talent retention within an organization. Employees either leave organizations for opportunities to grow or separate from environments that do not contribute to their development and overall well-being. In this article I share how organizations can leverage leadership to not only help develop and retain existing talent but also attract high potential professionals that are looking for an opportunity to learn and grow. READ MORE

Ken Greger

We all know what happens when we wait too long to address an existing or impending crisis, and history offers endless examples. It took many years for Noah to build his ark, but when the flooding began those who had spent all that time ridiculing him perished for lack of preparation. Several died after failing to evacuate from Mt. St. Helens, despite being warned well in advance that an eruption was imminent. The stories go on and on, yet – classically – many of us wait until the last minute or, worse, until the problem is upon us. And then we panic. It's been a mathematical reality for some time that a labor shortage was inevitable. This article warns that the shortage is now upon us, but also offers suggestions for doing something to avoid panic. READ MORE

Leigh Branham

Question: What is your most effective recruiting method? Job posting? Campus recruiting? Your website? Employee referrals? Social media? It depends on the talent you're targeting, of course. But you may be relying too much on a limited handful of talent sourcing and recruiting strategies. Have you ever wondered whether you are considering all the methods available to you? In this article, the author presents a comprehensive list of ten methods that are guaranteed to expand your thinking. Developing relationships with local resume writers? Hosting an open house? Arranging chats with web-surfing job seekers? These and any of 60 other "guerilla tactics" may be the ticket to finding and keeping talent you need to stay successful. READ MORE

Renie Cavallari

When faced with labor shortages and staffing challenges, take a good look at your leadership-management team and onboarding and development plans, as well as your culture. Employees stay in positions when they feel valued, feel competent, are happy in their environment, and have clearly defined roles and expectations. With how negatively turnover impacts your bottom line, it is increasingly important to make sure you are training and developing the right people. When leaders commit to their people and their culture, they are more likely to retain the type of employees that will best perform in their organization. READ MORE

Lisa Cain

The hospitality industry is witnessing the increasing need for specialization of current and future employees in order to attract and retain a qualified workforce. Accordingly, workforce development and how higher education may aid in this process is of considerable interest. Future trends may see more partnerships between industry, organizations, and higher education to use more credentialing outside of the undergraduate and graduate education models that currently exist. The importance of certifications and the development of specialized programs in higher education to respond more rapidly to market needs of specialization in hospitality are discussed. READ MORE

Suzanne McIntosh

Finding talent for your hospitality business is harder than ever. Unemployment is low and fewer people are in an active job search. Competition is fierce for top performing candidates. How do you attract great people to your open positions, then once you have their attention, how do you keep them engaged during the interview process and close the deal? We can no longer expect highly qualified candidates to respond to our job postings. We must actively recruit, move quickly and streamline the interview process. Candidates have many options…if you take too long…you will lose them. READ MORE

Eugenio Pirri

For years HR professionals have battled the war for talent. A phrase coined in the 1980s by business consultant McKinsey to highlight the challenges in attracting, recruiting and retaining high-caliber people in a stagnant employment market. With unemployment rates at their lowest levels in a decade, standing at just 3.7%, many would argue the war has yet to be won. With ongoing uncertainty in the economy, Eugenio Pirri, Chief People and Culture Officer believes more needs to be done to address this challenge. In this article, he shares his views on the battle for talent and how they are tackling the shortage within luxury hotel management organization, Dorchester Collection. READ MORE

Brenda McGregor

Creating a strong culture within the hotel business is not only important, but essential. Depending on core values and internal priorities, the answer to what culture looks like might vary slightly from one company to the next. There's one thing that's most important to creating and maintaining a strong culture in a workplace-collaboration. Efficient communication, understanding employees, open mindedness and willingness to make changes are just the beginning building blocks of this process. A strong culture doesn't just happen, it takes consistent and continuous work that will pay off with employees, guests and professional partners alike. READ MORE

Rachel Levitt

The hotel industry is currently facing a labor shortage of unprecedented proportions. This has led employers to look for innovative ways to find and keep their top talent. Recruiting from outside the sector holds tremendous promise for hospitality, because it opens the door for fresh thinking and ideas, best practices from other industries, and a new way of looking at old problems. Technology, in particular, offers a multitude of possibilities for hotels to revamp everything from their financial systems to in-house entertainment, marketing methodologies, and even to introduce environmentally sustainable operations. Here are some innovative ways hotels can implement cross-industry recruitment to build the strength of their organizations. READ MORE

Cara Silletto

Tired of watching thousands of dollars walk out the revolving door of employee turnover? Have you begun to proactively invest those same dollars on the front end of your employee relationships to help keep people longer? Or is the door spinning faster each year? Too often, it's assumed that the solution to a workforce shortage is increased recruiting. But if the real problem is employee turnover, then a bigger-picture approach is needed. Instead of just putting a Band-Aid on today's staffing shortage, redirect your dollars to solving the source of the problem. Don't make the mistake of investing more in the staff you're missing than in keeping the staff you already have. READ MORE

Robert M. O'Halloran

A long-time pillar of hospitality business education at the university level is that we are preparing traditional and non-traditional students for careers in the hospitality industry. Our students have held jobs to gain experience and positioned themselves for leadership positions with multiple levels of responsibility and authority. A career path model can assist an organization in the planning and retention process at all employee levels. Organizations viewing themselves as career pathway champions can benefit their employees and themselves by creating a great place to work that embraces employee goal and career aspirations, while meeting the employer's business goals creates a positive work environment. For those searching out what direction they should take, career paths need to be obvious, evident and manageable and approachable. READ MORE

Sherri Merbach

One recent, you-can't-miss-it trend in the marketplace is online recruiting companies are investing large sums of money into advertising, likely reflecting the even-larger revenues they are earning in return. And the underlying reason why so many companies are recruiting more is because their employee retention strategies don't work…or they don't have any strategy at all. Confronting this difficulty of finding qualified employees in a labor market of low employment, companies are finding themselves understaffed and incurring overtime to serve their guests. Few hospitality companies realize that the shortest path to people management success is by hiring employees who will stay longer. This requires fresh thinking. READ MORE

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.