Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

Service by Mail: Define the Promise and Deliver It!

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

Promises. President George Washington, whose birthday we just celebrated in February, said "Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise." Easy to say, hard to do. Even easier to write and then turn over to someone else to deliver...or not! Many hotels and hospitality organizations spend thousands of dollars on marketing materials that are mailed to new and preferred guests. Many of these materials make promises and service commitments if the mail recipient will take actions such as:

However, the people that develop the materials are not usually the people who will field the inquiries. They many not even know about them! How can and will employees deliver the goods promised by mail or by other marketing/advertising messages?

Consider any one of the beautiful colorful postcards that arrive in guest mailboxes, showing new resorts and promising relaxing, memorable experiences. The mailer arouses the guest's curiosity and they call to learn more. The first person who answers the phone is not familiar with the mailing but knows enough to take the reservation. As the guest asks more questions about this new property, they get polite, standard answers that technically fill those guests' needs (restaurants, room profiles, property features, etc). However, they don't get the feeling, the ambiance or the excitement that the mailer was able to communicate with a picture and a few simple words. Those intangible qualities, the promise of service and the possibility of a new, memorable experience are what motivate guests. Now that guest is confused. Which source is to be believed more...the mailer or the person? Will guests get what they really want when they get there? Even though many reservationists are not on property, they are part of the same organization and should be able to communicate the essence of the property. Do the people who develop the mailing pieces get their messages from the resort or do they write them and give them to the resort? Which should come first and how is everyone staying on the same page? When service is promised on one end, who is making sure service is delivered on the other end?

One concerned guest offered this scenario from another medium, the internet. After checking out hotel options and rates for visiting a daughter in college, this guest arrived at the selected hotel and asked for a reservation. She also happened to be part of the frequent guest program and chose this hotel based on the rates promised on line and loyalty to the property chain. However, the front desk staff could not honor the rate promised on line and in fact had a $50 more difference for the exact same rooms, even with full availability. The reservation had not been made on line but the rate information did list rates to expect. This guest felt betrayed and asked me the following question. "why are non-visiting guests in cyberspace treated better than the real life person actually standing in front or you, ready to pay and likely to return?" Her last comment, is though she will make future visits to this area while her daughter is in college, she will not return to this property and will make faceless reservations on-line for fewer dollars, since that's what properties seem to prefer.

Again, what seemed to be a commitment to guests in terms of what to expect, especially loyal ones, the actual delivery team could not even respond to what the hotel's website promised. They were unwilling to connect the two to make a loyal guest happy. Real people, on both sides, seem to have lost out to the marketing medium but the bottom line of that property will be the true loser.

And, one last example, a smaller property in the Southeast which takes a very personal approach to their business kept coming up on my radar. Even though they have a small staff, they take pride in handling each step of delivery and the same people answer the phone as do the marketing. However, when calling for a reservation, though the phone was answered immediately, the response "I am busy right now, can you call back?" was delivered. In other words, if you really want our business, you can call back for it. What a surprise when I was doing exactly what they wanted. They did not have a service oriented response in place to handle the more busy moments. What a deflating feeling after so much foreplay to call.

How do these delivery dilemmas happen and why go to so much work and cost to get people excited? Defining what the promise means and how to deliver it the whole way is critical. Service checkpoints should be installed and monitored before the mailer even reaches worthy guests.

Keep the following in mind when developing marketing materials and remember Service by Mail ...will Fail, unless each step that follows is executed with service know how:

Not receiving service via each step of delivery, especially after the promise becomes an I.O.U. can be emotionally expensive for guests, and financially expensive for your business. Make sure each mail delivery ends up as a service delight and not a service dilemma. Add the service stamp to each message and expect on time delivery of guest expectations and more!

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...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

JANUARY: Mobile Technology: A Permanent Sense of Immediacy

Michael P. O'Day

For many hotel guests, the most appealing hotels are the properties that offer instant connectivity with the bandwidth capable of supporting multiple devices. As our need for faster speeds and higher quality content continues to grow, hotel guests now expect uninterrupted service putting more pressure on hotel IT building designs. As more and more guests shift to the “always connected” mindset, hotels must be able to deploy technology solutions with minimum downtimes that can grow with the increasing dependence on mobility. Hoteliers must now meet today's guest technology expectations while preparing for tomorrow by installing an infrastructure in which the bandwidth and technology can be expanded as the need arises. READ MORE

Terence Ronson

There’s only one way to view this – we live in a mobile world. Almost any consumer product or service developed today, is most likely created with a mind-set that one day it will somehow be used in a mobile manner. Consigned to oblivion are the days when we need to return to a desk to do email, go to a fixed line to make a phone call, plug into a network port for internet connectivity, have a hard-wired antenna to watch TV, or wear a wired headset to listen to music. READ MORE

Scott Schaedle

It’s no secret that mobile technology has reshaped the consumer travel experience. Today’s traveler can check in and out of a hotel without ever speaking to a human being. That lack of human interaction and direct communication is both a good and bad thing for the hospitality technology industry. From booking a reservation to leaving a review, mobile use continues to rise in the hospitality technology sector, and is not slowing down any time soon. Today, nearly 60 percent of travelers book hotels using a mobile device while 81 percent of travelers find user reviews important when considering which hotel to book. READ MORE

Court Williams

In some ways, running a successful hotel comes down to a proposition both simple and sometimes complex: delivering service that exceeds the expectations of your guests. You need to provide comfort and hospitality, but also something extra to set yourself apart from other properties. Without differentiating yourself in the market, you risk becoming just one of many hotel options, rather than the preferred choice for your market. One valuable way to set yourself apart from your competition is through embracing technological opportunities available to hotels. If you leverage mobile technology, a wealth of options are emerging that can deliver new conveniences and services that enhance the guest experience. READ MORE

Coming Up In The February Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Social Media: Interacting with the Hotel Customer
Consider these astonishing numbers: 1.49 billion active monthly Facebook users. 1.1 billion active monthly YouTube users. 320 million active monthly Twitter users and nearly 400 million registered users on LinkedIn. 400 million active monthly Instagram users and 200 million active Google+ users. The power and reach of social media is an awesome force and it has transformed how hotels interact with their customers. In the past year, social media advertising spending increased 33.5% to nearly $24 billion dollars. Social networks are being utilized by hotels to reach more visitors, expand brand awareness, enhance brand reputation and to establish more direct and personal communication with their customers. Savvy hotel operators are adopting a comprehensive social media strategy, and there are several emerging trends to note. Video continues to be a powerful and influential element in social media marketing, with 70% of companies saying that it is their most effective marketing tool. Video generates a 62% higher engagement rate than photographs alone, and with new social sites like Meerkat and Periscope which offer live video streaming, those numbers will only increase. Sponsored content is another growing trend. Though advertorials have been around for decades, hotels are finding new ways to maximize the visibility of their content. Some are placing sponsored content on Facebook, or on influencer blogs. Another trend is the integration of a “Buy Now” button into social media websites. Customers will be able to make purchases without ever having to leave their favorite social sites. This development is a major convenience for customers and should also be an additional revenue source for hotels. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.