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Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

The Gestures of Service

By Roberta Nedry, President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc.

PLEASE light my candle! All the other table candles in the restaurant were lit, except ours. The time was twilight and we had a water view from our table. PERFECT timing for a lit candle. Our nice setting quickly became an incomplete experience. None of the waiters or waitresses noticed nor could we get their attention until several minutes later. Why use the space for a candle that only sits in darkness? We were disappointed that this little gesture was an oversight and a detail that did not seem important.

Big service opportunities come in little service gestures. Little efforts can score big with guests. Those hotels and resorts that do take the time to invest thought and effort in the smaller moments and gestures will score big in the overall guest experience.

In Park City, Utah, the Peaks Hotel provides several nice gestures that make guest stays so much more enjoyable. When the newspaper arrives each morning, a welcome sticker is attached on the front page with the statement, "It is our goal to make your stay a comfortable and enjoyable experience." A further statement notes that receiving the paper is a guest choice, offers two newspaper choices, and the opportunity not to receive it as well. Many hotels do offer the newspaper selection and perhaps a "provided with compliments of" sticker but the Peaks Hotel's additional statement of welcome and their interest in creating an enjoyable experience, even with the small touch point of a newspaper, showed extra effort.

A second thoughtful gesture is door-to-door delivery of hot chocolate and huge home-made cookies. An enthusiastic staff team takes this delicious cart around to each room in the late afternoon, knocking on each door, and offering the goodies. Many hotels offer tea, cookies, and other items like this in the late afternoon in lobbies or other central areas. This extra gesture of Peaks Hotel staff, personally going door-to-door, taking the treats to guests, who may have just returned from a long, day of skiing or snow activities, showed extra effort and a sincere gesture for guests who may have been too tired to walk to the lobby.

At the elegant Stein Eriksen Lodge, in Upper Deer Valley, Utah, Todd Ronsenkrantz, Restaurant Manager, developed another wonderful way to make tiny moments into big memories. In the Troll Hallen Lounge, while guests enjoy appetizers and drinks, Mr. Rosenkrantz, visits each table to ask guests if they are enjoying themselves and if all is as they expected. He calls this the "table touch". He makes the rounds and "touches" each table which in essence is touching each guest experience with a personal and memorable welcome. He is warm and welcoming and makes guests feel like each short visit mattered. He is engaging, involved and enthusiastic, even though his role did not require that.

Todd Rosenkrantz is a leader by example, not just behind the scenes, but on the frontline and his staff reflected those same engaging and enthusiastic qualities. This was a little gesture by someone in management who recognized the value of the guest connection for his employees as well as his guests. Gestures like these don't take much time but they do take the cake!

At The Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel, Chef Concierge Maurice Dancer and his concierge staff take "gesture development" to a whole new level. Their level of personalized service through the most simple of communications makes a positive and memorable impact. In advance of guest visits, Maurice, a Les Clefs

D'Or concierge, and his team, uncover guest interests and make many recommendations based on guest preferences. Upon arrival, when guests check in, guests receive individual and personalized letters from the concierge team, summarizing a recommended itinerary and those reservations that are confirmed for each day of the visit. If guests are celebrating a special event, a hand written note of welcome, personalized message and thoughtful amenity await in the room. These are little things but hand written notes, personalized letters and proactive communication efforts add the polish, professionalism and personal service commitment that make a difference.

Other thoughtful gestures at The Pierre keep adding to the guest experience. In the Caf'e Pierre Bar, an elegant, complimentary snack assortment is delivered to each table while drink orders are made. Olives are part of the assortment. It's always interesting to watch guests enjoy olives and those hotels or restaurants that serve them. Most guests do not know how best to handle the olive pits. While eating olives can be delicious, there is that awkward moment of removing the pit from one's mouth and placing it "somewhere" where it does not look disgusting. If ashtrays are on the table, they get mixed in with "ashtray stuff". If saucers are on the table, they share space with the cups. Or, perhaps they end up back on the side of the serving dish they originally came from, quite unappealing. The Pierre provides an olive pit dish to solve the problem. It is small and unobtrusive but its purpose is clear. This small gesture, via this well thought out one inch round dish, made pit removal and placement more discreet and all olive and non-olive participants benefited.

In the elevators, The Pierre features elevator attendants who do a lot more than push buttons. They recognize their opportunity to be ambassadors of the hotel, even in such close quarters, and each time guests go up or down, guests feel like they have a personal escort. This small touch point opportunity becomes a big touch point memory. These employees know that little outreach gestures can mean a lot and they knew appropriately when and how to make the guest connections.

Even after guest visits are complete, Maurice Dancer and his team are still on duty. They make notes about important guest dates like anniversaries and birthdays and weeks or months later, may send a congratulatory note or card to show guests they are remembered and appreciated. Once again, a little gesture, little thanks, an email or a clever note, even after guests leave the premises reflects a service commitment above and beyond the daily routine. Guests pay attention to small gestures like these and reward hotels with their loyalty and referrals.

Who is in charge of "gesture development" in any hotel or hospitality environment? What are the existing services that can "grow bigger" in service impact with just a little bit extra thought and care? Making memories just a tad more meaningful at less than obvious touchpoints is simple once this strategy is mobilized.

Take a look at some of the following guidelines in considering a "gesture development" thought process:

Signal your intention and attitude for exceptional service delivery through gesture gyrations. Minor moments become major memories with minor efforts and major commitments. Light a flame of interest in this untapped area of service focus and experience the glow of appreciative guests.

Roberta Nedry is President and Founder of Hospitality Excellence, Inc. and has spent over 32 years exploring, delivering and managing guest and customer experiences and service training. She helps organizations to reach levels of exceptional service and regularly consults with executives and managers on transforming customer experiences. Her Hospitality Excellence Team is internationally recognized for its expertise in creating customer experience strategies that zero in on and inspire the DNA of each client yielding enhanced internal employee experiences and external customer and brand value. Ms. Nedry’s diverse background with both public and private companies allows clients to draw on her extensive career experience for business solutions. Ms. Nedry can be contacted at 877-436-3307 or roberta@hospitalityexcellence.com Extended Bio...

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OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

Gary Isenberg

Hotel room night inventory is the hotel industry’s most precious commodity. Hotel revenue management has evolved into a complex and fragmented process. Today’s onsite revenue manager is influenced greatly by four competing forces, each armed with their own set of revenue goals and objectives -- as if there are virtually four individual revenue managers, each with its own distinct interests. So many divergent purposes oftentimes leading to conflicts that, if left unchecked, can significantly damper hotel revenues and profits. READ MORE

Jon Higbie

For years, hotels have housed their Revenue Management systems on their premises. This was possible because data sets were huge but manageable, and required large but not overwhelming amounts of computing power. However, these on-premise systems are a thing of the past. In the era of Big Data, the cost of building and maintaining an extensive computing infrastructure is incredibly expensive. The solution – cloud computing. The cloud allows hotels to create innovative Revenue Management applications that deliver revenue uplift and customized guest experiences. Without the cloud, hotels risk remaining handcuffed to their current Revenue Management solutions – and falling behind competitors. READ MORE

Jenna Smith

You do not have to be a hospitality professional to recognize the influx and impact of new technologies in the hotel industry. Guests are becoming familiar with using virtual room keys on their smartphones to check in, and online resources like review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) continue to shape the way consumers make decisions and book rooms. Behind the scenes, sales and marketing professionals are using new tools to communicate with guests, enhance operational efficiencies, and improve service by addressing guests’ needs and solving problems quickly and with a minimum of disruption. READ MORE

Yatish Nathraj

Technology is becoming an ever more growing part of the hospitality industry and it has helped us increase efficiency for guest check-inn, simplified the night audit process and now has the opportunity to increase our revenue production. These systems need hands on calibration to ensure they are optimized for your operations. As a manager you need to understand how these systems work and what kind of return on investment your business is getting. Although some of these systems maybe mistaken as a “set it and forget it” product, these highly sophisticated tools need local expert like you and your team to analysis the data it gives you and input new data requirements. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.