5 Ways to Attract Health and Community Minded Guests

By Rani Bhattacharyya Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality | July 07, 2013

In a way, the economic recession that many of us still are struggling to rebound from has also provided the US and other travel markets ample opportunity to discover and celebrate all the hidden hospitable gems and recreational treasures that have been operating in our own backyards. At the same time, the current travel market has also experienced a significant increase in the over-50 guest population. This trend in turn, has started to influence the types of hospitality services and consumer products that are being offered at both lodging and food service facilities.

The question of competitiveness now facing facility managers is not only how to re-connect with travelers planning to recreate again closer to home; but also requires us to carefully consider how a facility wants to re-position itself in both the over-50 and under-50 market segments.

To explore this question a bit further, I will start off by reviewing the need-based assumptions that hospitality professionals should to keep mind while targeting and servicing the increasingly divergent age groups of the US consumer market. Once these differences are clarified, I will then go on to outline a few reasons why a Corporate Social Responsibility plan, and facility management improvement plans can help hospitality professionals meet these challenging and demanding needs of their guests. Third, I will also try to highlight the importance of marketing and capitalizing on your sustainability efforts within prospective markets by citing a few online and paper examples of successful promotional tools that have developed over the last decade.

Keep in mind that the resources I will review developed in response to the specific informational needs that travelers have started to assert concerning their personal health, community and environmental interests.

In closing, I will also review a few management strategies that facility managers have been using to increase their ROI while entering these niche markets in a sustainable and incremental way. By reviewing these five aspects of hospitality service management, I hope this article can provide a few sparks of inspiration and innovation on the part of both your management team and frontline staff while they continue to serve each of these unique traveler niche markets as they develop.

Listen Well to Your Current Market Segments' Needs

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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.