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April - Guest Service: The Power of a Smile
There is good news for the hotel industry. According to a recent survey by J.D. Power & Associates, travelers are more satisfied than ever with their hotels. Overall guest service satisfaction reached a score of 804, up 20 points from last year. It was the first time satisfaction has surpassed the 800-point mark (on a 1000-point scale). At the same time, there was a 20% reduction in the number of guests who reported a problem during their stay, which was the lowest number reported since 2006. How does this news pertain to customer experience management? Because the survey also found that employee demeanor has a significant impact on how satisfied guests are. The average number of problems experienced when a staff member greeted guests with a smile "all the time" dropped 50% compared to when they were smiled at only "sometimes." The study also showed that guests are more loyal when they walk away from their stay feeling "delighted." Among those who were delighted, 80% said they "definitely will" recommend the hotel to a friend, relative or colleague, and 66% said they would stay again. These are colossal numbers which indisputably prove how crucial hotel employees are in achieving guest satisfaction. It is imperative that management be absolutely committed to recruiting the best talent, and then offering a wide-array of training and development procedures to facilitate superior and consistent guest service performance. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations. Need to subscribe? Click here!
Peter McAlpine

The pervasive hotel industry concept of SOP-Customer Satisfaction does not create authentic hospitality. It creates a largely mechanical and emotionless, but efficient guest experience, which not only makes it difficult for staff to be their true self, but it also does not meet the emotional, spiritual, energetic, and healing needs of human beings. The concept’s inability to meet those needs is its Achilles Heel. Authentic hospitality is provided when the guest experience is rooted in and exudes the essence of hospitality, namely, loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. READ MORE

Lester Scott

The hotel industry doesn’t fall far behind in keeping up with the technological advances.. It wouldn’t be favorable for any hotel within a contemporary city to not provide all of the conveniences today’s traveler is accustomed to. Anticipating the needs of discerning guests should be one of the core principles of a successful hotel operator – and this does not exclude technological needs. Keeping up with this evolution of data and capture is not the hard part; the challenge lies in the ability to maintain the most basic standards of what it means to be a hospitality professional. READ MORE

Holly Zoba

Yes and no -If you try a Google search for apps that improve customer service you are going to find hundreds of possibilities. And they have the most clever names: ZenDesk (sounds very relaxing), GetSatisfaction (isn’t that what we all want?) Loop, OfficeVibe, Nuance, IdeaScale and on and on. Each app has a variety of pretty cool bells and whistles, and each app could potentially help to improve your customer service. That explains the yes, but what about the no? READ MORE

Edward Reagoso

Oh, so you fear terrible reviews by some of your guests, you have had dining guests complain their meal was less than stellar, your market share is below what’s acceptable, and you have some staffing problems to boot? Throwing money at issues like these won’t often result in the fix and if it does it certainly won’t be permanent. Real issues demand real plans and a strategic smile - yes, a smile. A smile can do miracles and affect everyone around you in a very positive way. READ MORE

Kimberly Abel-Lanier

The American workforce is changing. By 2020, Millennials are predicted to represent 50 percent of the working population. In terms of attracting, retaining and motivating the best and the brightest in this group -- it's simply going to take more than a paycheck, good benefits and a ping pong table. This group (and the upcoming Baby Z's) has lofty goals...they want to impact the world and connect to a higher purpose. This means there are higher expectations for meaningful work coming to the mainstream employer. READ MORE

Dennis  Armbruster

The hotel industry recently experienced some good news with the announcement that overall guest service satisfaction was significantly up in 2015, according to a survey by J.D. Power & Associates. In addition, the number of guests reporting problems declined to its lowest level in almost a decade. Professionals in the hospitality business should be pleased with these indicators – but not too pleased. Hotel operators need to think bigger than mere customer satisfaction, fearlessly applying innovations beyond their niche' READ MORE

Brian McSherry

Given the importance of guest satisfaction to a hotel’s repeat business, experienced operators know that the more hands-on their delivery of guest service, the more successful they’re likely to be. Excellent service is achieved through consistent, ongoing training for every member of the hotel staff. It’s not good enough to train just the senior team and expect best practices to filter down. Training must be inclusive, involving everyone who works in a hotel. And hands-on training is all about engaging with guests. READ MORE

Kevin Robinson

Maybe you’ve been there…you look at the clock and the minutes slowly tick by. You’ve fallen into a rut. Often associates feel the same way. It’s vital that managers engage teams to sustain their motivation and passion, both in their day-to-day roles as well as in the service they deliver to guests and customers. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, a mere 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, a sobering figure. With engagement at an all-time low, it’s important to motivate your workforce and the impact that it has on engagement. READ MORE

Scott Hale

Do you really need all of those Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)? Are Standard Operating Procedures throttling your business growth, stifling your team’s development and diminishing your guest experience? We’ll explore these questions in the piece that follows. While this discussion doesn’t mandate that you cease and destroy all SOPs, it will equip you to elevate your business, team and guest experience by thinking twice about the standards that you’ve set. Most important, it will get you thinking that there could be better ones out there. READ MORE

Sam Ross

Research shows that positive engagement with hotel employees has a major impact on guest satisfaction, creating a distinct set of challenges for properties of all sizes. Carlsbad, California, located along the Pacific Ocean coastline north of San Diego, is home to a range of accommodations, from boutique inns to some of Southern California’s most luxurious resorts. Where a larger hotel may benefit from best practices in training and hiring, an intimate property may be able to offer highly personalized service – how are hotels in Carlsbad responding to these challenges to ensure guest satisfaction? READ MORE

R.J. Friedlander

Hoteliers can gather endless amounts of data from analytical tools but the real challenge is knowing what to do with it. Today, savvy hoteliers are using Guest Intelligence to motivate each department and get the most out of individual teams to improve overall guest satisfaction and boost revenue. By creating a guest-centric culture, employees at hotels are empowered to make a difference. At the end of the day, your employees are representatives of your brand and those responsible for offering remarkable guest service. READ MORE

Alexandra Sewell

A smiling face behind the check-in desk. Prompt and unobtrusive room service. Eager hands to help with luggage. A friendly greeting. “It’s my pleasure.” “You are quite welcome.” “Please, let me help.” These are just a few of the personal touches that define exceptional guest service. Human interactions are indeed the cornerstone of the guest service mission at most hotels. Get those human interactions right, and you have a satisfied and loyal guest who is likely to sing your praises to others. Get those human interactions wrong, and they can damage your reputation and your business. It’s often the negative voices that ring the loudest and get the most attention. READ MORE

Adrian Kurre

When it comes to an exceptional customer experience, it’s not just what you offer, but how, when and why you offer it. Employed thoughtfully and effectively, efforts to drive customer service to new levels become infectious throughout a hotel organization, down to each individual property and team member. Easy to say, harder to execute. To stay on the forefront of providing the ultimate experience for business and leisure travelers takes continuous innovation. Integrating new technology, continuously improving team member training, and striving for targeted and personalized customer interactions remain essential to success now and going forward. READ MORE

Sue Garwood

In the hotel industry, excellent service is vital, as customers’ expectations continue to evolve, raising the bar and setting a higher standard. These days, a smile, “please” and “thank you”, just doesn’t cut it. Customers want to have memorable experiences they can walk away with, which is why hotels are implementing new programs to improve and monitor clients’ satisfaction. A good program today should highlight not only the importance of customer care, but also for each employee. Below are key aspects to keep in mind in order to build an outstanding customer satisfaction program. READ MORE

Naomi Stark

8,600,000. That is the number of results Google returns in .39 seconds on the search, “how many studies on smiling are there?” Scientists have explored every aspect of smiling. Apparently, it even was used in predicting the life span of baseball players in 1952 – extending the life of those with “beaming smiles” seven years!. Wow. Research studies prove every which way that our brain, our emotions, our body, our children’s development, our stress level, blood pressure - you name it - just about everything is benefited by the all-powerful smile. READ MORE

Jim Maguire

We know that guests always expect the absolute most from us. I would ask you before reading this article to think back to the last time you had a great customer service experience. I would bet it started with a warm and friendly smile that made you feel good. How we can win guests over with a service smile is quite simple in theory, not as easy to execute. It starts with a culture, a service smile, the positive actions that follow - I call this service the "Wow Factor" The "Wow" is all about how we make a guest feel when he/she is staying at the hotel. The end goal is to make your guests feel as though you went above and beyond to exceed their wants and needs. READ MORE

Coming Up In The December Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Hotel Law: Issues & Events
There is not a single area of a hotel’s operation that isn’t touched by some aspect of the law. Hotels and management companies employ an army of lawyers to advise and, if necessary, litigate issues which arise in the course of conducting their business. These lawyers typically specialize in specific areas of the law – real estate, construction, development, leasing, liability, franchising, food & beverage, human resources, environmental, insurance, taxes and more. In addition, issues and events can occur within the industry that have a major impact on the whole, and can spur further legal activity. One event which is certain to cause repercussions is Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. This newly combined company is now the largest hotel company in the world, encompassing 30 hotel brands, 5,500 hotels under management, and 1.1 million hotel rooms worldwide. In the hospitality industry, scale is particularly important – the most profitable companies are those with the most rooms in the most locations. As a result, this mega- transaction is likely to provoke an increase in Mergers & Acquisitions industry-wide. Many experts believe other larger hotel companies will now join forces with smaller operators to avoid being outpaced in the market. Companies that had not previously considered consolidation are now more likely to do so. Another legal issue facing the industry is the regulation of alternative lodging companies such as Airbnb and other firms that offer private, short-term rentals. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Monica are at the forefront of efforts to legalize and control short-term rentals. However, those cities are finding it’s much easier to adopt regulations on short-term rentals than it is to actually enforce them. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.