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Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

How a Tissue Box and a Pepper Shaker Rocked My World

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

Chilled champagne in a silver bucket, chocolate -covered strawberries, spectacular floral displays, elegant upgrades and décor, delicious chef creations, limousine luxury and red carpet treatment…each of these are extraordinary gestures and touchpoints in the world of hospitality. These examples are some of the ways in which hoteliers and their teams go above and beyond for guests to celebrate an exceptional moment or occasion. They are designed to create a special feeling, extra recognition, a moment of surprise and a sense of appreciation. They are "WOW" efforts that are usually recognized with WOW reactions. Though many of these moments are unexpected, these examples are the more 'expected' or traditional ways to demonstrate something extra special. They are the creative efforts, amenities and products designed to cause that intense or focused moment of pleasure.

So…when a hotel or hospitality organization takes a very common effort or ordinary part of their environment and does something EXTRA or UNCOMMON to address an ordinary expectation, it is like discovering treasure in the most delightful of ways.

During a recent stay at the Kimberly Hotel in New York City, a luxury boutique suite property in Midtown, I discovered that treasure in the most ordinary of settings.

On the Kimberly Hotel's website, they note, "Our warm, inviting atmosphere, united with a sincere commitment to personalized service, sets a distinct standard …"

That distinct standard for me began with an exceptionally warm welcome from Chef Concierge, Peter Johnson, before I even arrived, as each email message he sent was with that sincere commitment noted above. Peter, a member of the prestigious Les Clefs d'Or organization, personalized my visit before I arrived with directions to each place I would need to go and approximate time estimates so I could plan my business days and logistics in advance. Peter took the simple, ordinary steps of information and directions and proactively personalized them to make my stay most effective before we had even met.

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Peter Johnson, Les Clefs d'Or Chef Concierge
The Kimberly Hotel

Though arriving mid evening and rushing to meet a colleague, greetings by the doorman, bell staff and front desk were genuine, authentic and responsive to my haste. Each ordinary step of walking through the doors, to checking in, to the warm European style of the elevators were proving to have that personalized level of service the hotel promoted in advance and supported in delivery. But the moment that really rocked my world in the most unexpected way was when I saw the tissue box and the wastebasket in the bathroom. They were BEAUTIFUL! They were designed with a vibrant and colorful floral motif that brightened the whole room and made this functional room feel special and like someone cared about each part of my stay. It was a place I expected to be efficient, nice and ordinary. Instead it was delightful, special and extraordinary. Most the time I move the tissue box out of the way or barely notice because it is built in to the furniture. I barely pay attention to the wastebasket in the bathroom other than to be annoyed that it is too small or in another room.

In this case, these simple items became some of my favorite parts of the room. By paying attention to ordinary parts of a hotel stay and figuring out how to make them extraordinary, this hotel added a WOW for me that lasted beyond champagne and strawberries. I almost felt as if they had decorated the room just for me.

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Floral Wastebasket and Tissue Box that rocked my world


The conversation was brief but it was personal and authentic. This hotel employee was proactive in his interest and showed genuine pride in his hotel and what his guests were experiencing. Later I met this man, Vice President and General Manager, Mujo Perezic.

One of my favorite expressions in hospitality training is "a red carpet attitude starts from the top" and Mr. Perezic proved my point again. When the general manager of a hotel shows this kind of spontaneous caring and leadership, simply by his actions, it is no wonder that the staff can fulfill the hotel's brand promise. Mr. Perezic understands that the hundreds of ordinary moments done in an extraordinary way (like checking in or greeting guests in the elevator) or with extra effort (beautiful tissue boxes and wastebaskets) add up to the most enduring and memorable moments for guests.

On another occasion, we arrived near closing time at La Veranda, an Italian restaurant in Pompano Beach, Florida after a full day of holiday shopping. After a warm greeting and welcome, we were seated in a corner table with sincere wishes to take our time and enjoy our meal, even though it was late. Soon, our waiter, Maynor, a Guatemala native, greeted us. He reassured us that the late hour would not diminish our experience and carefully explained the specials along with his favorite dishes. We ordered and started with a salad. Maynor asked us if we wanted fresh pepper to which we responded yes. Out of his pocket, came an amazing pepper mill, which he explained was his own. Without having to run and get the grinder and keep us waiting, he explained that he brought his own personal mill and kept it in his pocket so that he always had a working pepper source handy and could serve his guests with something meaningful to him.

We loved this personal touch, this personal commitment and this personal service. It was so unexpected and so refreshing that the simple act of grinding pepper on our salads could now take on new meaning.

Another ordinary moment made extra ordinary with simple thoughtfulness and initiative.

We have already made plans to go back and have referred others. The spirit of welcome throughout the meal and the attention to little details like pepper inspired our loyalty and our desire to return. Who knew pepper could be so profitable?

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Maynor and his Personal Pepper Shaker

How can hoteliers and hospitality and business leaders learn from these two simple examples of ordinary moments? How can leaders and their teams better understand and define what will rock their guest and customer worlds?

Consider the following steps to add the Extra to Ordinary:

  1. Encourage employees to reexamine each touchpoint in their respective work areas and consider anything that might make a difference in the experience. Look at the most simple, ordinary and normal things and view them through experience eyes.
  2. Ask questions? What if it was… cleaner? A different pattern? A more unique solution? An easier process? A different color? Placed in a different location? Could that employee help facilitate the change or the thing that might make a difference?
  3. Ordinary can become extraordinary with behaviors as well as objects. Remember the elevator conversation and the proactive emails at The Kimberly Hotel. What little extra communications and behaviors could make a simple moment more meaningful? Perhaps it is just an extra smile, greeting or door held open. Little moments can make big impressions. Provide training on how to do this and showcase examples of these behaviors in action.
  4. Consider the sequence of events in any guest experience. How well do they flow and what might interrupt or augment any one experience. Ask for ideas and encourage participation in actively managing the guest experience.
  5. Recognize great ideas and share credit and observations amongst the team. Showcase the role model behaviors and ideas. Share guest feedback with your team that shows that the guests' notice the things that make a difference

Make the emotional connection with each touchpoint, no matter how simple, mundane, ordinary or small. Discover the WOW in each NOW moment and that the littlest efforts or gestures may rock your guests' worlds.

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.