{468x60.media}
Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

The Reality Show of Service

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

The service landscape has changed in the past few years and hospitality leaders must recognize why anticipating and defining expectations may be more important than ever. People, customers, guests want the real thing. Especially after events like September 11, they want to feel more secure, more safe and more reassured that their interests and concerns matter. They don't want to feel like their needs play second fiddle to corporate policies, complex chains of command or misinformed employees. They want a real connection.

On a recent flight to Colorado, I experienced a reality quagmire. Two major airlines have a program to allow elite members of either airline to get the benefits of early boarding. On this particular flight, I was an elite member of the other partner airline and sought the shared early boarding benefit. The employee taking tickets did not know about the program and even employees who were aware of the program were unsure of what proof of elite membership could be accepted from the partner customer. As the elite member customer asking for the benefit, I was made to feel like my expectations were "unrealistic" when in fact the companies have presumably spent millions to invite customers to experience this benefit and feel good about both airlines. The employee's attitude and information were poor and we both suffered.

Customer reality suffers when employee reality is not consistently managed. The key to this is to have a single reality for customers and employees and manage customer benefits at the employee level. It is challenging to manage information at all levels with the plethora of web and direct mail promotions for hotels, airlines and other hospitality service providers. When a customer books through an online travel agent like Expedia or Travelocity or hundreds of others, is their reality penalized or does it suffer due to employees believing that that online customer is entitled to some alternated reality? Does it mean less service and other terms and conditions? Hospitality companies need to focus on what they want the final real result to be for all customers and then manage that experience through each possible source. Employees need the same care and attention that customers do when understanding what makes the experience what the company really wants for the customer.

When an employee does understand the power of real connections for customers and guests, the rewards are immediate. During a visit to two destinations in Florida, a Texas family experienced dramatic differences. The first one offered impressive grounds and facilities but employees at the front desk were rude, impatient and dismissive. The reality of paying $500 a night for accommodations did not seem to make a difference in service nor a genuine concern for positive memories beyond the physical location. They labeled their experience a "nightmare" and one which they would not repeat. Employees and those that managed them did not appear to care about making a real connection for their guests and allowed the physical property alone to do the work.

The second destination provided an immediate contrast with kind and caring staff immediately upon arrival. However, it went downhill from there with numerous problems with room service. Determined not to have another poor experience and get what they really wanted, they called to address the situation and were put off by unhelpful staff and unavailable supervisors. Frustrated again, the family resigned itself to an experience other that what they really wanted.

Finally, a senior room service supervisor surfaced and immediately changed the trip for the better. Once he heard the story, he found the family and personally apologized for all the problems. He assured them no more such experiences would occur. From that point on, that particular employee stayed in touch with these guests and extended kindness and special treatment that made them feel truly valued and appreciated. One employee who recognized what his guests really wanted really made a difference. Because of their experience and his real service commitment, this family plans to always return to this resort property for all future visits to this destination.

Consider placing greater emphasis on the skills, information and attitude necessary for ultimate service delivery. Recognize how to recognize what guests really want. Companies and hospitality organizations make real decisions every day that affect what experience their guests and customers will have. Understanding how those decisions can lead to positive or negative results is critical in the reality show of service.

  • Define service standards and specific actions for each point of contact, through any source. Train and inform employees on how to handle delivering great and real service through each of these points.
  • Instill the importance of attitude, eye contact and a smile in making the first impression of delivery. Just 'showing up" and "doing the job" does not cut it.
  • Make sure employees are sensitive and prepared for unhappy or even confused customers and equip them with the skills to deal with delays, misunderstandings and complaints. A little empathy, an apology and a proactive course of action will go a long way.
  • Train delivery personnel, internally and externally, management and front line, on how to observe or gather feedback from guests on the spot. Provide an easy way to channel that feedback to whomever is in charge. Chances are new ways to improve service, reduce complaints and enhance business are sitting at the front desk or somewhere on the line.
  • Build relationships internally between all personnel who are touch points in the service chain of events. Make sure the baton of service gets passed seamlessly to benefit the guests.
  • When any service encounter is over, remember the importance of a thank you and recognize opportunity in the final moment to make a lasting, real, and positive impression. If any dissatisfaction remains, make sure the guest knows how their problem will be resolved.

When guests do encounter the "real thing" the impact is powerful. Donald Trump figured this out with "The Apprentice," considered to be the first reality program that's close to being really real. Mr. Trump understood today's landscape, with people feeling more anxious about jobs and their futures and wanting more of a real thing. In the world of hospitality, people want more real service too. Not receiving service can be emotionally expensive for your guests and financially painful for your business. And that's a reality show you do not want to produce!

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:

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




{300x250.media}
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.