Guest Experience - Moving from Transactional to Experiential

By Bob Megazzini Area General Manager, Sage Hospitality | April 08, 2018

In most of the service industry today, we live in a sea of sameness - from airlines to car rental companies to hotels. We encounter numerous people at various touchpoints that are there with a smile (or not) to take our boarding passes, credit card or confirmation to "Process the transaction" and move us on our way to the next transaction. Most travelers are not getting a sense of appreciation for their business and the experience is not memorable. Service associates in various businesses need to move you through to get to the next transaction. It is the nature of the beast and it's happening every day all over the globe.

 So what can we do as hospitality service professions to change the landscape?

I have had success over the years in making each transaction an experience by connecting with each customer to show genuine care and concern for what they are experiencing. Striving to create a place people want to go to - not just through - is a great way to think about how to transition from the transaction to the experience of service.

 It is important to change the way we interact with our guests and to create unique new hotel experiences. Some examples that have worked well at my hotels include:

Wine Tastings

We partner with our Food & Beverage experts and vendors to offer complimentary wine tastings in the lobby. This provides great one-on-one time to get to know our guests and build a connection while sharing the winemaker's history. It is important to make sure the staff members running the tasting are well versed on the region where the wine is produced and the winemaker's family story. In many instances, the guest likes the wine so much they go to the lounge to buy a glass. Lastly, many of us have had made a strong connection over a glass of wine, so this is an easy place to start.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.