The Loyalty Principles: Gain and Retain Guests through Best Practices in Customer Service and Engagement

By Judy Christa-Cathey VP Global Brand Marketing Hampton Hotels & Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Worldwide | April 08, 2012

In today's competitive marketplace, building a personal and customized relationship between your brand and your guests can make the important difference between one-time stays and a group of deeply loyal customers who drive increased revenue and profitability for your business.

At Hilton Garden Inn (HGI), we strive to set our guests up for success in both their professional and personal lives. We are a brand built on dependability and integrity, and we want to ensure that our guests feel like they're taken care of, whether they're traveling domestically, internationally, for business or for pleasure. We understand that the guest experience is a core factor in differentiating your brand in a competitive marketplace and we believe the following principles are essential to customer engagement and retaining loyal, satisfied guests.

Principle 1: You're only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

Most brands in the hospitality world know that to be successful with client service, you need to have a strong support staff that can act responsibility and quickly at any guest's request. As the old cliche warns "you're only as strong as your weakest link," it is extremely important to create a solid employee training program from the start that's rooted in the customer experience. A new employee orientation should not only focus on the typical day-to-day routine, but should include best practices and interactive role-plays to help train the employee for any guest service situations that may arise.

Employee training does not (and should not) conclude after his or her first day, week or month on the job. Whether it means attending industry conferences, bringing in a trainer or having employees sit down with managers one-on-one, continuous education benefits all levels of employees from the most senior-level manager to the newest, most inexperienced team member. It is essential that your training evolves, especially if your brand is rolling out a new program or initiative, in order to handle any issues that may arise from a practical business or a customer service standpoint.

Many of our most successful properties have established deeply loyal customers due to the personal interactions customers have with staff members they encounter during their stays. It is important to remember that simple, thoughtful gestures go a long way with customers so empowering your staff to go the extra mile will make all the difference.

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Coming up in September 2018...

Hotel Group Meetings: The Need for Speed

2017 was a banner year in the Hotel Group Meetings marketplace and that trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. Planners are experiencing a renewed sense of confidence due to a reinvigorated economy and increased job creation, which typically provides a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are maintaining a fast and furious pace, and they are utilizing an array of technologies to speed things up. For example, planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around quickly; the mantra seems to be “as soon as possible, or sooner!” To that end, the use of electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) to source hotels and venues has increased in recent years, bringing many timely benefits to the Meetings industry. As a result, in order for hotels to attract and book meetings, they have to be willing to operate with a sense of urgency, which is the new baseline for success. Once on property, the need for speed doesn't diminish. Poken is a cloud-based event management platform, which enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. ClickShare is a wireless presentation system that permits others in the meeting room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button. Skype is useful in order to engage with remote participants in real time, and dedicated apps are being routinely used to drive registration and communication before, during and after a meeting. Finally, text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls simply because it's quicker. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.