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Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

Alumni Relations: Team Spirit is a Powerful Service Ally

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

Your former employees are a powerful market target. They all ready know the message and product. They "bought in" to what the organization was all about when they joined. They do not need lots of advertising messages and persuasive literature to familiarize them with the product or environment. They are "ripe" for the marketing mix and they should be top picks for special promotions and communications. Your employees could and should be one of your most valuable conduits for new business. So...how do you refine service levels to this powerful group?

This point really hit home for me when contacting one of my former employers, a resort company, for whom I have tremendous respect and enthusiasm in addition to wonderful memories. This would be the first time I would introduce my family to a place that was so meaningful to me, and I was excited. So, I wrote a personal note to the General Manager with the hope that he would acknowledge my contributions as a former employee and show me some level of recognition. I was not necessarily looking for a discount or preferential treatment. What I was looking for was a "welcome back" and appreciation for a "family member" that had returned, with lots of extra dollars to spend. Instead, he apparently handed the letter off to an assistant, who sent me a form letter, directing me to call the general toll free reservation line, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD!!! My loyalty diminished, and sadly, my memories got some new tarnish. All sorts of opportunities to have someone personally address my stay and encourage me to increase dollars per day spent were immediately lost.

What if they had only instead offered a friendly "welcome back" message, and perhaps helped with a reservation. Considering that this same executive probably spends lots of time and dollars thinking about methods to reach new guests and expand room night revenues, why did they totally miss the opportunity to take advantage of this target market? This one was easy and would have had no cost-"relationship marketing" 101! Effectiveness in hitting target markets doesn't have to always be the result of costly shotgun approaches, when often the best targets already consider themselves part of the relationship.

The hospitality industry employs thousands of people in both short and long term roles. Some are seasonal and some spend a lifetime with one organization. Some employees stay within the hospitality industry but move to other locales or types of properties. Some move into other industries with meeting, business and entertainment needs for the hospitality industry. Each of these employees has families and friends and business associates. Word of mouth is one of their favorite advertising mediums and they love to talk. Hospitality people are usually "people people".

Let's learn a lesson from major universities around the country. Alumni relations is critical to fund and fan raising success. Highly paid officers are hired just to manage the relationships with former students and harvest dollars from loyal graduates. Why wouldn't hotels and business do the same? Former employees are such an easy sell ...and you know who they are!!!!!!

How can hotels and hospitality organizations score big with employees as a target audience? How should hotels service those who used to be in service? How can former employees be reached and what will motivate them to become guests themselves?

Consider these winning strategies for big hits on the service scoreboard that drive sales effectiveness:

Your former employees are in a unique position to refer business. It's not that they don't want to, it's just that they may not think about it and don't know the latest. Out of sight...out of mind. Since thousands of dollars are spent on guest loyalty programs and statistics prove how much more profitable loyalty dollars are, why would we neglect doing the same with former employees, who know the product even better than loyal guests?

Catch the team spirit. Pay attention to your alums and welcome back dollars with familiar faces. Everybody wins with team spirit as a powerful service ally.

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.