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.



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This month's feature articles...

Evan Snively

If you take a moment to look around and reflect on your own life, you might recognize a strange thing happening – at a moment when we are physically apart, our families, neighborhoods, and cities seem to be growing closer than ever. Your brand has the opportunity to do the same with its customers. And there is no better weapon in your company's pandemic response arsenal than its loyalty program. However usual strategies will need to be adjusted, and decision makers who hold an understanding of the human condition, informed by behavioral science, will have a massive advantage when navigating the critical decisions to come. This article is a cheat-sheet for those decision makers. READ MORE

William J. Sander

Between the global pandemic and the teetering economy, the hotel industry is in the midst of interesting times. As these issues play out, it is important for hotel management to remember that, at heart, success still revolves around the culture of guest service. William J. Sander, CEO of Seagate Hospitality Group in Delray Beach, Florida, reflects on that culture with perspective gained from three decades in the industry and two recessions along the way. READ MORE

Probal Lala

Keeping pace with trends and innovations in technology is imperative for most businesses today. This is especially critical for hotels in their quest to personalize and elevate guest experience, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. Hotels are turning to evolving technologies like voice assistants to make it easy for guests to do everything from adjusting lighting to ordering room service, and equipping rooms with mobile app digital key access technology to deliver faster, more convenient guest access. On the operations side, robotic technology can handle repetitive tasks, improve guest interaction and provide predictive maintenance technology to ensure guest room systems and devices are optimally maintained. READ MORE

Scott Hale

Text *MORE* if you'd like to keep reading! Just kidding. Please don't text me. When text messaging became a popular way for folks to look really busy pounding a Morse code into their flip phones and Blackberry devices, I opted-out. I introduced a simple rule: if you send me more than one text in five minutes, I'm calling you. I still live by that rule. That's the exception; messaging rules the world. Short message services and messaging platforms continue their worldwide proliferation, affording your guests an impressive communicative artillery. They've got lots of options to attack, so, while defense could win championships, proactive messaging will win you off-the-charts guest experiences. Text *STOP* now if you'd rather not learn more about engaging guest communications. READ MORE

Megan Pope

It's no secret that technology is critical to creating a hospitality experience that guests will want to return to again and again. Not only does technology improve the guest experience and help hotels stand out amongst their competition, but it can also open opportunities for additional revenue streams by allowing properties to capture detailed data on guest preferences. Two recent technologies in particular, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice-controlled tech, should be in every hotelier's toolkit as they look to make future tech investments. This article discusses the application of these innovations, and how first impressions matter when it comes to creating a personalized in-room experience. READ MORE

Cate Farmer

Cate Farmer, General Manager of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort delves into the trends that are dominating the discussion around the future of guest service in today's hospitality landscape. With an increasingly competitive atmosphere and online reviews now accessible at travelers' fingertips, the importance of providing the highest level of hospitality, service, and attention to detail is not only of the utmost importance but it is becoming a base expectation for today's travelers. By prioritizing a positive work culture, leveraging guest personalization, and offering engaging experiential activities, resorts and hotels will be able to generate future success in customer demand. READ MORE

Bill Groves

As hoteliers, we tend to strive for the highest guest service score ratings. These measures can help provide us with an ongoing progress report on the "health" of our hotel. Guest scores and comments tend to shed light on the hotel areas that shine and those in need of extra attention. So how can we help each hotel department and team associate feel ownership for guest satisfaction and ultimately improve guest service scores? READ MORE

Shujaat Khan

Vendor selection, training and follow-up are key components to ensuring your guests receive the same level of service from your vendor representatives as they do from your in-house staff. The cost of service failures may be difficult to calculate, but their far reaching effects will negatively impact your bottom line. In their quest to maximize profits, some hoteliers have made the decision to outsource front line staff. "But, as with every other business strategy, outsourcing has its own limitations and 'unintended consequences' that if not addressed, can turn it into a bad business strategy." READ MORE

Geoffrey Ryskamp

Guest experience is the biggest buzzword in the hospitality industry today, and rightfully so. In the experience economy, where every moment matters, those who differentiate, win. No other industry understands this notion more than hospitality. As a result, we have seen it serving up some of the most creative and top-notch experiences ever. But accommodation options have expanded - ala Airbnb - creating a more diverse set of options for guests and making differentiation and personalization even more important in winning consumers' hearts and wallets. So how are hoteliers differentiating to win? How does the pre-arrival guest experience come into play? And what role does technology play in helping hoteliers perfect the pre-arrival experience? READ MORE

Sara-Ann Kasner

Technology is a thing of beauty or the bane of our existence depending on many factors. As a small business owner, I would be lost without computer programs which assist me in so many ways i.e. electronic filing, tracking business, accounting and more. Driving in my car I not only can talk hands free via my cell phone, I can connect to my emails and social media and point my vehicle to my destination thanks to navigational features. All of this is so commonly used it's taken for granted yet I confess to being in awe of the advantages of modern technology. READ MORE

Jack Chang

Technology has permeated every aspect of the hospitality industry, from mobile check-in and key-less entry, to gate-less parking, in-room iPads, and more. Each of these innovations has made great strides in driving convenience and maximizing user experience for guests, but only scratches the surface of what's possible. Over the past 30 years, the hotel industry's explosive growth and advent of alternative competitors like Airbnb have given consumers more hospitality choices than ever. The variety is great for the discerning guest. READ MORE

Rocco Bova

In the age of digitalization, personal interaction has taken a different turn and definitely is perceived in a completely different way by the majority of people. Call me a nostalgic, not old fashioned, but I still believe that human contact and personal interaction is what makes the difference in authentic hospitality. In this article you will learn what makes a difference in a luxury hotel with real examples of what works and what does not as well as measure how far you can go to get up close and personal with guests. READ MORE

Chris Green

This is an exciting time for the hotel industry. In an increasingly digital world hotel owners and operators have access to a vast and constantly expanding array of new tools and new technologies that allow them to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively, optimize their marketing and revenue management efforts, and provide their guests with appealing new services and conveniences. They also now have the mechanism to manage and leverage that data, with AI-driven software solutions that can identify hidden patterns and connections. READ MORE

Susanne Carter

We live in an age where everything technology is here and now. For the hospitality industry, this raises guest expectations to the maximum. With the onset of the 5G Revolution information services will soon become available with a tap and in the blink of an eye. However, none of this compares to the speed of human ability to form First Impressions. First impressions are made in a split second and when negative opinions are created, recovery from a bad First Impression can take a long time. READ MORE

Gary Hogan

Digital marketing doesn't just allow big brand hotels to reach guests – on their desktops and smartphones – it too can be incredibly effective for smaller budgets. Small and independent properties with limited marketing resources can make smart investments in their digital strategy and online presence to compete with larger brands. Learn how to harness the power of social media, put your best foot forward with an effective website and customize your approach across different digital platforms to reach your target market, secure more bookings and raise awareness of your hotel's brand. READ MORE

Robert Arigo

Like so many experiences, a glowing first impression can be an accurate predictor of a successful outcome. This certainly applies to a hotel stay. Thanks to immersive websites and persuasive social media, guests can form first impressions of a property before even arriving onsite. But those virtual impressions can't compare with the impact of actual impressions formed by guests after they step through the hotel entrance. Central to the onsite experience is the front desk agent, who in many cases plays a dual role in welcoming the guest and setting the stage for a successful visit. READ MORE

Jana Love

How does your hotel show up online? Since first impressions are made without a guest physically being on property, all aspects of your online communications (website and social media) need to be calculated and perfect. What is seen online is usually a guest's first impression of your hotel. Websites and social media posts need to come across as smart- post differently, have clever delivery, use engaging content, etc. Hotels need to show personality in their messages and on their websites. Show real guests experiences, have some fun and make us fall in love with the images and your hotel. A successful online presence can be hard work, but the benefits are hard to ignore. READ MORE

Jennifer Corwin

The role of pre-stay outreach may be among the most underappreciated -- and misunderstood -- factors that affect the quality of guest experiences. While the industry has coalesced around providing basic confirmation of a booked reservation, few hotel brands have put strategic thought into how this "first contact" with a future guest can be leveraged to lay the foundation for a successful stay. In this article we review the current state of pre-arrival communications explore options and opportunities for optimizing this initial touch. READ MORE

Robert Reitknecht

The next decade will be shaped by the continued rise of speech- and text-based assistants for customer service. Research shows that the global chatbot market is set to peak at $1.25 billion by 2025, with only 11% of customers negatively viewing the technology. In the hospitality industry, we're seeing both leading hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs) leveraging chatbots to deliver more distinct guest experiences while enhancing staff productivity and creating unique new revenue opportunities. So, how can hospitality organizations invest in a way that makes sense for them? Consider this your 2020 guide to chatbots for hospitality. READ MORE

Renie Cavallari

First impressions happen in a nanosecond. They are not singular moments. They tend to build on each other and, once they are formed, they are hard to shift. From the moment a potential guest explores your website, sees a single comment on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Instagram or other social media post, your fingerprints are establishing impressions that tell your story. Today, first impressions are ongoing impressions. They build your brand DNA for better and for worse. Here are a few tips to help make better and lasting first impressions on your guests. READ MORE

Coming up in November 2020...

Hotel Design: Home Away From Home

With the rise of the sharing economy and the peer-to-peer marketplace for lodging options, hoteliers are re-thinking the look, feel and appeal of their locations. There is an emphasis on re-creating a feeling of homeyness - a comfortable, cozy and inviting space that feels like home. 'This is accomplished through the careful selection of furniture design, paint colors, lighting design, artwork, bathroom fixtures and textile accessories. In addition, some hotels are providing their guests with upscale amenities, such as a book and movie library, home-style kitchenettes, a coffee machine with locally-sourced beans and tea, or even a batch of fresh-baked cookies. Similarly, there is a growing design trend based on the concept of place-making. Travelers are searching for experiences that are unique and authentic to the locale in which they find themselves, and so hotel designers are integrating a sense of place into their work. This is partially achieved by incorporating traditional artisanal crafts and other local artwork into hotel rooms and communal spaces. Another design trend includes the creation of full-service, co-working environments within the hotel. Guests don't like to stay alone in their room when they need to work, so now they can go downstairs to the lobby-or up to the roof-to work among others. These areas encourage guests - and non-guests alike - to stay as long as they like and to partake of hotel amenities. Finally, recognizing the importance of the Wellness Movement, some designers are exploring how room design can increase the likelihood of deep and restorative sleep. Creating dark and quiet spaces, blocking excessive light, providing guests with a selection of different kinds of pillows, and the ability to control room temperature, are a few of the best practices in this area. These are some of the architecture and design topics that will be covered in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.