Creating the Guest Experience on a Multi-Sensory Level

By Richard Graham General Manager, The Fontaine | April 15, 2018

Standing out amongst the noisy boutique hotel scene has become a challenge for many hotels in recent years. While our property is no exception, our management company (Pivot Hotels) constantly promotes creativity and strives to create a unique brand that will separate us from the rest. Pivot's core values are built around embracing people's creativity and "celebrating our inner weird," which makes for opportunities to build memorable moments with guests daily, ultimately reminding us of why we joined the hospitality industry in the first place.  

With the experiential travel trend at its peak and here to stay, offering guests more than just a place to rest their head is crucial to prosper as a boutique hotel. Creating personalized guest experiences is an effective way to ensure guests are left with a lasting impression representative of the hotel's brand and identity. From service to hotel culture, the guest's stay needs to be a cohesive, seamless experience from arrival to checkout.

Empowering Guests through Experiences

Travel today is all about experience. Guests are willing to go out of their way, bypass loyalty programs and spend more to have personalized experiences. Most people now expect every touchpoint to offer an interesting and enriching experience, and travel is no exception. The term "experience economy" was first coined by the Harvard Business Review in 1998 when they sought out an explanation for the desire for memories as products. Consumers in general are moving steadily toward experience-based consumption, in which they would rather indulge on life experiences than material things.

The "local" experience is becoming far more important to travelers than being a tourist. Travelers want to do what the locals do and embrace all a destination has to offer, and this includes the hotel. Authenticity is key and allowing the guest to shape their own stay while still providing them with warm hospitality creates a well-received balance by the experiential traveler. Giving the guest a stay that is both memorable and comfortable requires each and every detail to be a step above the rest in order to really stand out and create a lasting impression. Travelers have become much more than tourists and they can expect a hotel that reflects that. Giving them a feeling of comfort while still creating experiences that allow them to step out of their comfort zone is what can harmonize the stay. Many travelers will bypass standard offerings and programs in favor of an experience that propels them forward or enriches them as individuals.

The independent-minded traveler is also looking for a sense of customizability in their travel choices. A personalized hotel experience is far from a new concept but giving guests the chance to feel as if they are in control of their own experience is an invaluable asset in hotel business.

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Coming up in April 2019...

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.