Remember Hospitality and Keep it Personal

Well, you’ve won the business. After scouring  the OTA’s, offering price resistance that would make even a Tibetan Monk sob like a baby, the guest is actually here, in your lobby, ready to do whatever it is that brings them into town.

All of your staff on site has to be focused on one thing:

Making sure the guest leaves feeling good about their decision to stay with you over the competition so they will recommend your property to their friends and colleagues.

Think about that for a second. Guest satisfaction is relatively meaningless if the guest isn’t recommending you. There is just too much competition and price-discounting for anyone to think that a good stay provides accretive value. It is imperative that when the guest checks out, that they will say nice things about you. Yes, repeat business is wonderful, but that couple walking out your front door may never be back in your city again, so now what?

What Does it Take to Get a Recommendation?

Master the art of the First and Last Impression

Coyle research shows that hotels are personally engaging guests upon arrival and departure only 77% of the time.  After a long (or short) drive or flight, the guest has arrived and is expecting that arrival to be seamless.  They have an agenda – business or pleasure and time in either case is always of the essence.  Ask their name five times, don’t fulfill their room requests, turn a simple request into a long drawn out process and that guest is now continuing their travel stress as opposed to feeling like they just came ‘home’ to you.  Same goes for departure.  The guest is ready to leave the comfort of your property to embark on the next part of their trip.  Just acknowledging them, thanking them, making them feel like their business was valued can go a long way.

Surprise and Delight

The best way to get someone to fondly remember you and tell their friends is to surprise and delight them in some way.  A free upgrade works every time as does a welcome amenity in the room, but these cost money, and quite frankly it has been done, so there goes part of the surprise element.

Getting to the core of surprise and delight is anticipating needs. The root of anticipating needs is learning about the guest. To learn about the guest, questions need to be asked, and a staff member needs to listen, process the information and act.

Back to the guest darkening the front door. The hotel staff already knows where they are from, and if Reservations has done their job, the desk staff knows why they are in town, and probably a few of their preferences. Surprise them by acknowledging their requests (when many hotels do not) and delight them by anticipating their needs (even more rare).  When an American guest walks up to a hotel front desk in London at 8 AM, the desk staff knows that the last ten hours were spent in airports and that guest is jet-lagged.  The businessman checking into a Chicago hotel also has road warrior written all over his face. These guests probably want a very fast check-in and perhaps a quick bite to eat.  Asking an open-ended question like how their trip in from [city] was, is a great way to gauge the guest’s demeanor and to reveal needs.

Don’t Forget the Basics

A smile, eye contact and positive tone go a long way.  Guests are more willing to trust a friendly good-intentioned staff member than a businesslike one.  Also, appropriately using the guest’s name to recognize them as a person, not just another person filling a room, can help in establishing the rapport you need to win the guest over.  Interestingly, Coyle research indicates that hotels are only achieving hospitality basics like these 74% of the time, indicating that there is room for significant opportunity.

This typically goes back to hiring the right people: those with the right attitude who come to work every day with a smile on their face.  Unfortunately, hiring is not that easy and, even the best candidates may not perform to your expectations.  Ensure management presence and monitoring, reward positive performance and evaluate how staff are delivering these important elements regularly to ensure consistent delivery to guests.

Service Recovery

OK, so something has gone wrong. The good news is that an excellent recovery will do more to create a positive recommendation than if nothing went wrong at all.  The bad news is that if the problem is left unacknowledged or inappropriately handled, you will likely lose that guest along with their recommendations and are likely to have someone upset enough to tell their friends and colleagues how poorly your hotel handled them in their time of need.  Based on Coyle research, hotels are achieving a successful Service Recovery only 79% of the time.  Sometimes this may mean that the issue was functionally solved but without empathy, others it may be that it was not handled at all.

Train staff to look at each guest issue as an opportunity to surprise and delight them.  So you find out at dinner that reservations never noted the guest’s anniversary celebration: send up that bottle of champagne the Mrs. was eyeing up during dinner along with a late night treat and offer a late check-out for their flight, which you know is not until 4 PM with a note encouraging them to sleep in.  Or for the guest whose room service breakfast order was incorrectly prepared, instead of jumping and sending up a whole new order, ask the guest what they would like, recognize that they may be in a rush and provide a relevant and helpful resolution rather than a fiasco.

Travel is stressful.  Anything you can do to make the guest feel like they are home will help to create the advocate you are seeking.  Make them feel that problems can be easily solved, people care about them, they are safe and secure and their business is valued and appreciated.  Do this through gestures and genuine care.  The guests will notice and your hotel will benefit.

Coyle’s hotel and restaurant quality assurance programs captures the nuance of each and every guest experience.  With Coyle’s InnsQore product, you get objective, relevant, and meaningful feedback that can help you improve your guest experience and hotel as a whole so each guest turns into a brand advocate.  For more information about our services, please contact us.

© 2024 Coyle Hospitality Group. Reproduction of any material without written authorization is strictly prohibited.

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