Connecting with your guests and making an immediate impact is important for every property. Anyone would agree that adding a personal, human touch to every guest’s stay, yet it doesn’t always happen. Some properties are great at feeling human and others treat it as a business transaction. I’ve experienced it first-hand, as I’m sure you have as well. No one likes to be treated like a transaction in any encounter, especially while traveling.
You have a short window of time to make an impact on your guests. Here’s how you get it right.
First and foremost, it’s important for your staff to have the right mentality. Your employees are the face of your brand, and creating a culture of service is the first step to bringing value to guests. In a previous post, we talked about creating a great culture at your property. In hospitality businesses, creating a customer-first culture has led to the success of brands like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and even e-commerce businesses like Zappos. These businesses know that their customers’ happiness is what makes the difference.
The values and goals of your organization should contribute to making a positive impact on the guest. Culture is not something that can change overnight and not everyone is up to the task of going above and beyond for the customer. You have to hire the right people and continuously train them over time to create the best possible situation.
Once you have a staff with a customer-centric mentality, you need to arm them with the right tools and training. On a recent trip, I experienced both a well trained and helpful front desk staff, and one that didn’t quite meet expectations. I had asked both a simple question concerning where I could find a restaurant in the city. One acted as if they’d never heard the question before, while the other asked several questions about my preferences and then proceeded to list off several different restaurants. The second concierge even pulled out a map and drew directions to each of them. Both frontdesk staff members had the opportunity to provide the same value, but only one went above and beyond.
There are a few reasons why the interactions were probably so different. The hotel that did not live up to expectations either was uninterested in helping or was unable to because they simply didn’t know. Front desk staff and concierges should be thoroughly trained on the hotel and the area in order to answer guests’ questions.
It’s also important for hotel staff to have an opinion about local restaurants, attractions, and other points of interest. Knowing all the local sites is one thing, and it’s another to have a well formed opinion about the various options. For example, the most popular restaurant in town might be good, but there’s a secret local’s spot tucked away nearby that’s better, cheaper, and faster.
Tools enable your staff to help guests more efficiently. Some guests are auditory and just need to hear the recommendations to make a decision. Some are visual and require a map or infographic to guide them through the options. And some would prefer you literally guide them. It’s unlikely your concierge has time to walk all your guests to restaurants all night, but you get the picture I’m painting.
Invest in creating city guides, handouts, maps, and pamphlets to help guests during their stay. In my travels, hotel maps have been one of the most helpful resources while traveling. I’m usually the “plan as you go” type traveler and appreciate all the tips and tricks once I arrive in the city. But even for the most prepared travelers, it’s a good idea to provide resources just in case there’s a change of plans.
A plan is only as good as its execution. Once you’ve made the commitment to creating a culture that supports making a significant impact on your guests, you need to execute.
First: Create a plan. What are the specific tasks need to be completed in order to set your team up for success? Of course, if you’re just starting out, it begins with hiring the right people. As we mentioned in our company culture post, not everyone is cut out to work in hospitality.
Second: With existing employees, set up training specifically focused on improving the customer experience. Ask yourself if your employees have the knowledge to give your guests an impeccable experience. If the answer is no, educate your employee,. If your employees are already reasonably knowledgeable about the area, there are always ways to expand.
You can get creative with training and make it fun for your employees. Group outings to the new local restaurants and bars around your city are great ways to increase knowledge and have fun while doing it.
Third: Create the tools to enable your employees. As mentioned above, you should allocate resources for content. Maps and city guides let your guests take your employee’s recommendations with them when they’re on the go. Maps are particularly helpful because your staff can point to recommendations that may not be listed in your guides.
Fourth: Review employee progress and measure guest satisfaction. Once you’ve put in the work to create and execute a plan, it’s important to measure the effect of your results. Are guests happier? Do people find your content useful? Do your employees feel more empowered?
A plan to better connect with your guests should make it easier for your employees to do their jobs well. With the right staff and the right plans, you’ll set your property up for success.
It’s a never-ending battle to provide the best experience for your guests. There are always new and innovative ways you can connect with travelers. No matter the size, niche, or type of accommodation you provide, it’s important to keep the customer at the forefront of your property’s strategy.