Steering the Course for Legendary Service
By Sara Djubek National Director of Sales, Signature Worldwide | April 14, 2019
We have all been there. The late plane arrival, it's your first time at a new airport terminal in a new city and finally, you're exhausted. This combination of attributes already lends itself to heightened senses in most travelers, but it also puts into full force the sense of unwillingness to deal with less than legendary service.
It may sound harsh, but it is emotionally and scientifically true. Your goal is simple, get to the hotel shuttle and finally to your hotel room, so you can sleep and start over. The mindset outline of many a business traveler!
Keep This in Mind As You Meet Or Are Servicing Anyone Traveling
The unknown is a common source of fear, so naturally unfamiliar surroundings can create anxiety. In a rankings report created by Booking.com, Unfamiliar Surroundings is the #4 factor in creating stress for the Business Traveler. In fact, 21 percent of business travelers are stressed by simply being in a new place.
Why is this important? It influences the perception your guests have of your service delivery.
One evening I had just arrived at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport and followed the monotone signs to the assigned area for hotel shuttle pickup. I have learned from many travel mishaps, always call upon arrival so that I do not have to wait what seems like forever for a hotel shuttle. Tonight, I was alone. It was late, approaching 10pm, and I was the only person within sight waiting for pickup. Just a few minutes later, a woman who approached to join me in the same area must have been glad to see another human, as my excitement for not being alone to wait was embraced.
"Where are you headed to?" I asked. She responded with a hotel near the airport on the same road as where I would be staying! It was nice to have someone arrive from across the country and end up in the same place, at the same time and who was headed to (nearly) the same place that I would also be staying that evening.
Small talk continued. However, throughout the conversation she exerted nervousness, glancing at her phone over and over, calling her hotel to confirm shuttle pickup again. She said that she called before exiting the terminal and the hotel said the shuttle would be waiting for her, but it was not there.
So, she called again – no answer. Third call – The hotel picked up after 5 rings. They were not sure where the driver was, but he was on the way.
This may sound reasonable, but when it's late, when you are alone and a female, everything is amplified, and for good reason.
I was happy to continue chatting to break up the silence as we waited. Like most shuttle pickup areas, it was a large concrete enclosure and we were still the only two people there. Then, there was light! Headlights that is. A shuttle approached and excitement that can only be compared to seeing Santa during the holidays ensued. We were ready to get to our "home" for the night. As the shuttle got closer, it become evident from the naming advertised on the side door that the shuttle was not for my counterpart but, rather me.
With a reassuring tone I stated, "I'm sure yours is not far behind." She nodded, but I could see the notable disappointment in her eyes of being left behind, alone on an airport road. My shuttle driver popped open his door and smiled when he saw me. It felt great to feel recognized and my spirits were instantly uplifted. As he helped me with my luggage, he turned his voice to my counterpart in travel. "Miss," he stated, "Are you also going to the same property as this young lady?"
The sad face of "No" appeared. She was not, but she was also getting nervously agitated on the upward of 40 minutes that had passed as she awaited her airport chariot. "Let me call the property one more time," she said. Ring, Ring, Ring and she was transferred right to the reservations line. Dismayed, she held her phone in her hand with obvious frustration.
Both the driver and I had entered the shuttle, but his approach of making sure everyone was taken care of truly shined. "Miss, where are you staying?" he requested from the shuttle door. She responded with the name of the hotel, which upon further conversation between them, was two doors down from mine. An immediate shift took place with his demeanor from great, to SUPERMAN.
He requested that she come with us, it was of no compromise to him or his time to ensure her safety was met. He implored, showcasing that her property was literally within walking distance of mine and he would happily to drop her off where she belonged.
I joined in and encouraged her to join us. It was the right choice for this time of night. "What if my shuttle is on the way?" she asked with indecision. Our driver responded that it was okay, he would hope that they would do the same for his guests. He stated that he knew it was the right thing to do and wouldn't have it any other way. He also said that he hoped, should it ever happen, that his daughter would be treated the same.
An instinct and intense need to deliver legendary service. A sincere commitment to take care of our guests, is within your reach. See yourself, see your family, see your hopes for how they should be treated, and you will undoubtably see the answer for any service opportunity right in front of you.
I was amazed; I felt secure, I felt confident and I felt I was receiving LEGENDARY Service. Why? Because it went beyond me, it impacted others and it was above and beyond his duties. It also made me confident that I had chosen the right property for my stay that evening.
Happiness and a comradery developed as we drove to our destinations near the airport. We weren't staying at the Ritz or the Renaissance, but the limited service properties met our business needs.
As we got closer, my new travel buddy whispered, "I think I should have stayed where you are."
A powerful but true statement based on her experience and PERCEPTION, and now mine for the notebooks. This experience made me, and the other traveler, elated.
Is Your Team Making Potential Guests And Drive By Shuttle Experiences, Just As Amazing?
It's a small effort made, but I'm sure you can see the ripple effects it has. To the individual who will remember to not stay two doors down on that same road during my next Dallas trip. To my counterpart who was meeting her team there with a total of 6 rooms, who will most likely be handing that revenue to the competition next time. To those influenced by our shared story, showcasing how well we were taken care of. Most of all, to any shuttle passenger who has been stranded and alone waiting for their ride.
That one interaction has set the standard that I watch for. I am persuaded by it and stories just like mine from other weary travelers. I use those experiences when deciding how to invest money in the travel I schedule regularly. I do remember, and so do your countless guests who were not able to speak to the Front Desk, but instead were queued to a call center reservations line. They called to just speak to someone onsite, who could have been of assistance - the first, second or third time they had to call in my counterpart's case.
Think About This – An Attitude Of Indifference.
Your team has the ability to change the course in which guests take their business elsewhere.
Powerful, but so true. We've showcased how travel and outside influences can change the perception of travelers. Are you ensuring that your team is not changing that perception even further in a negative manner? Are you showing the slightest hint of empathy or concern for your wary travelers?
It's no easy task, and I'm sure there are a million excuses, but your team has to be better. We, as an industry, must go beyond and be part of forming the perception of the guest before they even step foot on our property. Automation is making it too easy for your team to hide behind the curtain of platforms and processes. They serve a purpose, but it does not SERVICE your guests in the way that human connection can.
The shuttle driver was my hero that evening. That may sound a like a cliched storyline gone a little awry, but he was. The gesture was very simple, but one that showcased the care of another person's wellbeing and safety. That sincere gesture meant more to me than any amenity that the hotel offered. The gesture showed that the hotel cares about having staff that truly care about the customer experience, even if it's not a paying customer. I strive to make all of my encounters genuine and caring – and I know your team can do the same!
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