Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
Steven Ferry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • So What Is a Butler, Anyway?
  • Rare is the week that goes by without word of some upscale hotel offering butler service as a way to improve service and retain or gain that coveted 5-star or diamond status. That's as it should be. But then consider the story broken recently by the Wall Street Journal of industry veteran Horst Schulze's declaration that he intends to establish a line of hotels with a six-star rating. What does he specify as the criteria for such an august label? Private swimming pools. And personal butlers. It seems butlers are really not just for the wealthy in their private estates, but also for their convenience when they travel. So, in providing butler service, a pertinent question might be "What exactly is a butler?" Or more to the point, "What are butlers in a hotel setting?" Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Nervous Service
  • Nervous Service! Call it shaky, call it uneasy, call it anxious, high-strung, sensitive or walking on pins and needles. These kinds of service experiences make the guest want to TWIST and SHOUT!!! What happens when employees are so focused on their duties, so concerned about management's expectations, so worried about letting co-workers down? Nervous service can bumble the job! Walking the line between expectations and service delivery can be challenging. How can employees better understand the seamless delivery of service and how they can have fun doing it without the jitters? Can hotels and hospitality organizations "work it on out"? Read on...

John Ely
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • How to Effectively Communicate and Manage Multiple Generations
  • I am a Baby Boomer. I manage a staff of Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials, and work with a set of Traditionalists. I think you see where I'm going here. As you might imagine, I have little or no trouble relating to the other Boomers on my staff, however, when it come to the Gen Xers and especially the Millennials, let's just say that I can sometimes be "out of touch." Being a marketer, my first line of defense is research when faced with an issue, and relating to, managing and working with a multigenerational workforce was just such an issue for me. Last year I started a research project to better understand all of these different generations. Some of the results were expected, and some were not, but it was amazing how people of those generational groups behave alike, have similar expectations (especially when it comes to customer service) and have comparable learning styles. Hopefully, my findings will help you in managing your own multigenerational teams. Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • The Hotel Workforce: 'One Bad Apple'
  • Good old Johnny Appleseed! This is his time of year, with peak apple season from September to November. How would Mr. Appleseed have felt if any of the seeds he planted turned into trees with rotten apples? How do hotel leaders feel when employees they have selected, trained and groomed change from positive to negative? Will they end up damaging the rest of the crop of employees as well as guests? It's amazing how one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch if not removed. How do hotels and hospitality organizations handle those employees or even managers who taint the others? Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • The Gestures of Service
  • 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. Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Service by Mail: Define the Promise and Deliver It!
  • 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? Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Having Reservations About Central Reservations?
  • When calling hotels and other hospitality organizations about making reservations, guests are often switched over to central reservations. Call centers become essential to managing call volume and efficiently plugging guests in to the appropriate locations. However, without proper training and information, that's where the disconnection can begin. How do off property call centers maintain the service connection and ensure a seamless introduction to the experience which guests' expect? If, as they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, what training and direction towards the quality of that impression at the reservations center level can be most important ? Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Today's Concierge - A Role Model of Service Excellence and Profitability
  • Concierge... the word appears almost everywhere these days as the ultimate symbol of personal service. No longer only the domain of the hotel lobby, the word "concierge" is appearing across all industries as an individual, whole departments and even virtual functions. When "googling" in the word "concierge" for an internet search, almost four and a half million choices appear. This is more than double the two million results of the same search done last year. The profession is hot and the demand is extraordinary. Consumers and guests are driving these increasing numbers with a frenzied desire for more personal service. At the same time, organizations are scrambling to convince a skeptical public that the personal touch still exists. They plug in the word "concierge" with hopes that the public will symbolically appreciate the effort yet many simply use the word or hire an individual without the essence and skills of the professional concierge. The ability to truly deliver exceptional service does not automatically appear by simply adding the word concierge. Organizations that hire properly trained, professional concierges will see significant impact to the bottom line and guest/customer satisfactions levels will soar. Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Lip Service Versus Guest Service
  • "I know you believe you understand what you think I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Confused yet? Your guests probably are. Are your employees communicating what they want to say or what they want to hear? Are they really paying attention to guest needs and do they know how? Are they truly listening and then responding directly to expectations? For that matter, are they setting up expectations up properly? Take a close look at how communication can conquer or concave on a guest. Actions may speak louder than words but the words can play a big role in guest service outcomes. Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?... How to Handle a Hurricane
  • "Windy weather, windy weather, when the wind blows, we all come together." The wind really blew in Florida during Hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne and this simple children's rhyme represents how Florida's hospitality industry responded. Faced with an unusually intense onslaught of this weather phenomenon throughout the whole month of September, the hospitality industry was forced to respond and react, prepare and respond, react and prepare, as each Hurricane seemed to target Florida with a vengeance. What happens to service during a natural disaster or threat or a surprise power loss of extended duration? How do hospitality leaders prepare their employees to deal with impending challenges and what happens to guests who drew the unexpected shorter straw in terms of the timing of their trips? How do hotels in particular prepare, react and respond? Are new policies and procedures put into place or are existing ones modified? How does a hotel ensure the safety of guests while still preserving some type of favorable memory? Does service still play a role and if so, what shape does it take and how are employees prepared to implement revised service scenarios? Do you have a "disaster service plan" in place? Read on...

Roberta Nedry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Service Excellence: The Bottom Line of Leadership
  • An effective leader, an evangelist who believes the customer and guest will provide the bottom line profits they need, begins by understanding what to do. Next, he or she accepts, believes, values and internalizes the key concepts they expect of their employees. When both of these take place, these same leaders can "walk the talk." Desired behaviors only will take place when each leader and their respective managers and supervisors start modeling these behaviors to those they manage. When employees see their leaders actually leading by example, they feel good about their work and are more motivated to satisfy their guests. Guests and customers in general feel good when they deal with companies who seem to treat their people well. Read on...

Cid Jenkins
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Using Online Surveys to Gain Insight into Customer Satisfaction
  • Understanding customer needs has become a critical part of any online sales strategy. The best way for executives in the hotel industry to know whether their company is delivering on brand promises is to gather direct feedback from those their business depends on-their customers. Surveying can be used to answer a variety of questions from how customers navigate a site to what makes them abandon midstream. There are a variety of tools on the market that help non-technical hotel personnel develop targeted questionnaires that are sent to customers upon any type of site transaction. Read on...

Richard D. Hanks
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Why Negative Feedback Can Be Positive
  • As much as we all like positive feedback, negative comments have the opposite reaction. It cuts us personally when a departing guest tells us that they had a bad visit. How you react to their feedback is the key. Do you shrug it off and chalk it up to one customer who won't come back? Or do you see an opportunity? I hope it's the latter. Let me explain the benefits of having flaws exposed by disgruntled customers, how to make them right, and then turn a disappointed guest into a lifetime advocate for your hotel. Read on...

Steven Ferry
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • The Future Hospitality Professional
  • Whether or not Mr Horst Schulze, former chairman of Ritz-Carlton, was serious when he announced his plans to introduce a six-star hotel chain that was defined in part by private butlers, he was signaling a recognition of the value of a certain something that classic British butlers bring to the guest experience. So what's the connection between the British butler of the past and present, and the future hospitality professional? How does one move service employees from transient lower-paid wage earners to professional service providers acting with pride and knowledge, more akin to Life Consultants than room service and caring as much for guests as their own mothers? Read on...

John Ely
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • The Importance of Creating Legendary Customer Experiences
  • A new trend is shaping customer service, and it goes well beyond simply providing what guests expect. Today, customer service is being measured against a guest's experience in total - all of your guest's interactions with your company, your facilities, your products, your services and, most importantly, your people. While customer experience has fast become the industry's new buzz phrase, most are still having a difficult time differentiating between good customer service and a legendary customer experience. The following story helps separate the two. Read on...

MAY: Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability

Eric Ricaurte

In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn’t implement them, or pay a $1,000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site. Read on...

Susan Tinnish

Hotels brands have actively engaged in large-scale efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Individual hotels have made great strides on property. Many significant large-scale eco-initiatives s are most easily built initially into the infrastructure and design of the building and surrounding areas. Given that the adaptation of these large-scale changes into the existing asset base is expensive and disruptive, hotels seek different ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. One way to do so is to shift the focus from large-scale change to “small wins.” Small wins can help a hotel create a culture of sustainability. Read on...

Shannon Sentman

Utility costs are the second largest operating expense for most hotels. Successfully reducing these expenses can be a huge value-add strategy for executives. Doing this effectively requires more than just a one-time investment in efficiency upgrades. It requires ongoing visibility into a building’s performance and effectively leveraging this visibility to take action. Too often, efficiency strategies center on a one-time effort to identify opportunities with little consideration for establishing ongoing practices to better manage a building’s performance ongoing. Read on...

Joshua Zinder, AIA

Discussions of sustainability in the hospitality industry have focused mainly on strategies at the level of energy-efficient and eco-friendly adjustments to operations and maintenance. These "tweaks" can include programs to reduce water usage, updating lighting to LEDs, campaigns to increase guest participation in recycling, and similar innovative industry initiatives. Often overlooked—not only by industry experts but even by hotel operators and designers—are possibilities for hotel design and construction that can make a property truly sustainable from the get-go. Read on...

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.