Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
Steven Belmonte
  • Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt
  • Why Customer Service Is Still King
  • We all know the first rule of thumb for survival in the service industry is "customer service is king'; and we have heard the complaints lately about how it's deteriorating at rapid speed. Most companies are finally realizing that cost-cutting methods may work in the short run (i.e. automated phone messages as opposed to a live person on the other end to take calls), but they tend to fail in maintaining customer loyalty in the long run. We've been there, done that, and learned from it. But what's not really being addressed is the customer service that takes place within the corporate office. Read on...

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...

JUNE: Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?

Emanuel Baudart

Social media opens the doors to conversations about experiences – good or bad. Twitter gives hotel guests the option to air their grievances while Instagram gives them the bragging rights on their best days. Customers are giving out their feedback and it’s up to the industry to take it seriously in how hotels engage with their guests. A guest’s social media is an opportunity for hotels to work better and more efficiently to target and enhance the guest experience. Coupling the data that guests give through social media with the data we have from years of growing AccorHotels, we are focusing on using the right tools to best access the guest. At AccorHotels, we are moving away from the transactional model of hospitality and focusing on building relationships through social engagement and bolstering the benefits of our loyalty program. In order to do both, we’ve invested in building better tools for our hotels to succeed on the promise of hospitality – great service, attention and comfort. Read on...

Wendy Blaney

In a world where almost everything is done digitally, it is important to remember how impactful a two-way conversation can be for consumers interested in booking travel. There is no denying that it has become easier and easier to plan trips online, and purchase products almost instantly – yet there are still many customers who want the personal touch and assurance that they truly understand what it is that they are buying. They want someone to provide direction, answer questions, and give them “insider” information. This is especially true for a dynamic destination like Atlantis where there are an abundance of options. Our guests aren’t just interested in a resort, they are seeking a coveted, catered experience. Read on...

Mustafa Menekse

Though it seems that online travel agencies have been a part of the hotel booking landscape for eons, the reality is that just 25 years ago, brick and mortar travel agencies were the norm. Travelers would visit an agency for trip planning advice, printed brochures, and to speak with actual travel agents to assist in booking airfare, hotel accommodations and rental cars. Travel agencies had the knowledge and information about the destination and, of course, the tools and connections to book hotels and flights to begin with. The support these agencies provided put traveler’s minds at ease, especially for international trips. This was the foundation of why OTAs are in existence. Read on...

Scott Weiler

A guest of a hotel or chain books with an OTA. Terrific for everyone, right? The OTA is grateful for the transaction, and hopes to get a nice share of that customer’s travel bookings for years to come. The hotel is happy to get a (let’s say) first time guest. Sure, they paid a commission for that booking, but the GM and their team is ready to do their stuff. Which is to say – deliver a great stay experience. Now what? Now it’s a battle of the marketers! Read on...

Coming Up In The July Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Hotel Spa: Measuring the Results
As the Hotel Spa and Wellness Movement continues to flourish, spa operations are seeking new and innovative ways to expand their menu of services to attract even more people to their facilities, and to and measure the results of spa treatments. Whether it’s spa, fitness, wellness meet guest expectations. Among new developments, there seems to be a growing emphasis on science to define or beauty services, guests are becoming increasingly careful about what they ingest, inhale or put on their skin, and they are requesting scientific data on the treatments they receive. They are open to exploring the benefits of alternative therapies – like brain fitness exercises, electro-magnetic treatments, and chromotherapy – but only if they have been validated scientifically. Similarly, some spas are integrating select medical services and procedures into their operations, continuing the convergence of hotel spas with the medical world. Parents are also increasingly concerned about the health and well-being of their children and are willing to devote time and money to overcome their poor diets, constant stress, and hours spent hunched over computer, tablet and smartphone screens. Parents are investing in wellness-centric family vacations; yoga and massage for kids; mindfulness and meditation classes; and healthy, locally sourced, organic food. For hotel spas, this trend represents a significant area for future growth. Other trends include the proliferation of Wellness Festivals which celebrate health and well-being, and position hotel spas front and center. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.