6 Methods Successful Hotels Use to Empower Staff and Improve Guest Service

By Mike Benjamin Co-Founder & Vice President, Guestware | April 15, 2018

Compensation is still a common way to satisfy an unhappy guest but does it resolve the underlying problems? Guest compensation is the most common way to satisfy an unhappy guest but is far from a panacea.

Can money buy happiness? When it comes to buying guest satisfaction for a hotel guest the answer might be similar to the life question: 'It can certainly help but doesn't guarantee happiness.'

There are times when compensating a guest to offset a bad experience can resolve the immediate problem. Most customers understand that problems are inevitable, and they are usually willing to forgive a minor issue. Nearly everyone agrees, "Stuff happens." Resolving the immediate problem goes a long way toward driving guest satisfaction. And a guest who experienced a problem is more likely to return if they are satisfied with the resolution.

But as with life, the frequency and severity of problems are more important than the resolution. Will a free room and extra points make up for walking a guest late night after a long flight? What will it take to compensate for having to change a guest's room because of noise or some other issue? In reality, nothing will completely erase the memory of a severe problem.

How would you feel if you were "comped" a free meal after a minor comment about how it was prepared? You might be satisfied or even impressed with the generous offer and apology. This is a great example where compensation can go a long way for a minor complaint. If everything else was good, this gesture would probably drive your decision to return.

Hotels that train their staff and empower them with the authority to satisfy an unhappy guest can absolutely elevate guest satisfaction. This is an essential part of building a service oriented culture. Many properties and brands invest in the human aspects of problem resolution. Most guest facing hoteliers have been taught in workshops to listen, empathize, apologize, respond, and follow-up.

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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.