Have you recently had the feeling that the harder you try, the more difficult it seems to make your guests happy with their stay in your establishment? Traveller’s behaviour and demands are changing fast and often it seems impossible to keep up with those expectation “trends”. So how to deliver the experience our guests wish and deserve?
Reaching the service excellence is not an easy task which demands various different elements to perfectly function together. Our product itself, our people and the way we do things, such as our philosophy or actual processes, are the main factors building success towards providing excellent experience to travellers. Arranging these components into a perfectly operating system might seem like mission impossible, but it can be achieved with the following steps in mind.
The key to providing memorable experience, or as I call it the FACTs of service excellence, is embracing and actioning on the following rules:
The first step into guests satisfaction is the actual base of any business activity – giving what the customer has paid for. The very starting point is the ability to satisfy guests expectations while delivering what was offered. This means keeping our promises and complying with advertising messages to prevent guests from unpleasant surprises. Has the guest booked a stay with the airport transfer? Then we need to ensure his pick-up is smooth and with no hassle. Was the SPA treatment included in the package rate? Well then it is surely too late to advice the guest on arrival that the SPA is fully booked for the following days and he wont be able to enjoy his massage. Is the hotel presented as a luxury resort? Then IKEA furniture most likely won’t be a perfect fit. In other words – we need to be true to promises we have made and ensure information received is accurate and real. The sea view means exactly what is says – having a view of the sea, and the rude, ignorant receptionist surely does not support the “we will welcome you to our family” philosophy. Fulfilment of guests needs, expectations and our promises – and so becoming a reliable partner – is the very first step towards the journey. We need to get it right!
Well begun is half done – meeting the needs and expectations is the great start, but exceeding them is the golden key. Ability to foreseen the needs and unexpressed wishes of the guests is what really makes a difference. The guest has mentioned to be taking an afternoon trip with the family? Why not preparing a few bottles of water, a snack box or an umbrella ready in their room? Has the guests enquired about the restaurants in the local area? What about saving her time and providing the list of recommendations with direct numbers for reservations? Have that group of friends expresses their love to the dessert they just tried? Why not letting the chef to write down the recipe or explain them in person how it’s made? Last time while visiting a restaurant I complimented the waiter for the wine choice and he came back to the table a few moments later with the address of an online shop, where I could purchase the wine in question for a good price. That is what I call anticipation!
Being a step ahead of guests’ wishes requires a set of skills, such as being a great listener, & attentive interpreter, having an ability to catch the hint and often being creative. If we truly concentrate on the guest during service interactions, we will soon notice that surprising them with unexpected actions is not only a delighter for the moment, but the true drive of their loyalty.
As Oscar Wilde once said “Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative”. Success of reaching the service excellence lies not only within meeting and exceeding guests’ expectations and needs, but doing so consistently. From establishment’s concept and design to communication and actual service delivery – great experiences have to be created always and by everyone. Our world class F&B offer wont save the show if housekeeping is poor, and a dedicated and positive holiday concierge won’t compensate for the rest of rude and unfriendly staff, no matter how amazing she might be. Our reception should not be the only personnel with excellent communication skills, and the standard of the service provided should be the same despite the time of the year the guest is visiting. If we can achieve the ability to perform in a consistent way, we will be surprised with the results. Because like most beautiful things in life – let it be love, trust or true friendship – are achieved not by accident, but consistent behaviour. So is guest loyalty.
Have you ever stayed in the place which you really liked, but just had the feeling of something missing? The lobby was beautiful with newest design, the room – convenient and clean, the food was great and the the staff – always friendly and professional. Nothing negative to say really. Nothing extraordinary positive neither. And that is very likely because the place was simply…well, ordinary.
The next piece in excellence journey is all about giving a special touch to guests experience. The touch of the brand or philosophy, which would leave the guests knowing that here things are done in an authentic way. The personal touch – providing tailored, individual experience and leaving them with the feeling of being valued and unique. Finally, the human touch – not only being a brand or a business, but being people. Turning back to the roots of hospitality and embracing the foundation of the industry – building relationship. Technology, design and newest inventions can highly improve both guest satisfaction and our efficiency, but they can never replace the primary element of hospitality – human interactions.
Sustainability is not only about being “green” – it is also about being responsible and caring business, which does not compromise social & cultural values over economical benefit. By each day our guests are becoming more aware of and engaged in sustainable practises and expect us to take commitment to decrease environmental footprint. So anything we can contribute – from recycling and waste reduction, to fair employee treatment or embraced diversity – if we add these to our FACT delivery, we will be the ones standing out in the crowd.