“I used to believe that culture was ‘soft’ and had little bearing on our bottom line. What I believe today is that our culture has everything to do with our bottom line, now and into the future." - Vern Dosch, author of Wired Differently
I've been thinking about this quote in light of a recent blog where I recounted an experience with a customer and lessons learned on recovering guest loyalty. A major theme in the work to ensure loyalty is maintaining a consistent, journey-focused guest experience mindset among employees. That mindset becomes part of your hotel culture - and when your organization reflects a singular culture across all departments and lines of business, your guests have superior experiences. This is where culture is no longer a "soft" or nice-to-have element of your employee experience. It's a necessary one.
What is a journey-focused culture and team?
A journey-focused organization is one that keeps all departments focused on delivering a specific experience for a customer. In hospitality, the idea of being “journey-focused” is essential for providing a consistent, enjoyable, end-to-end guest experience (as opposed to a single “good” experience at one guest touchpoint like check-in or initial booking). Long gone are the days where the front desk person or concierge is single-handedly responsible for creating a stellar guest experience. A journey-focused culture is one in which all employees across all departments participate in the mindset and action of ensuring the best possible outcome for guests – no matter if they are in billing, janitorial or the executive suite.
How do you create a journey-focused team?
There are three major ways to ensure your organization is engaging in a journey-focused culture:
Encourage open communication between operating departments and support departments.
There can be no silos in a journey-focused organization. This network of communication is especially important between support departments and operations to gain a 360-degree view of guests and excel in service recovery. It’s not enough for one department to simply listen to a guest or even empathize with their needs. As I discussed in my last blog, all departments (front and back office) need to be aligned to engage, empower, and delight the guest - driving the experience they want.
Create a foundation based on a common service language.
The guest experience across various departments must be consistent time and time again. Key here is ensuring employees speak the same service language. Training materials should establish elements such as mission statements, values, brand pillars, and more that reflect the singular culture and journey. When you engage employees with wording about your organization and their purpose in it from the get-go, it’s easier to create a consistent message for all guests.
Leverage technology to understand the end-to-end journey.
Only when you understand the breadth of the guest journey will you be able to instill consistent, journey-focused culture in your team. Your customer relationship management (CRM) system can capture data when a guest is in the stages of interacting with your marketing. Mobile management software can help your hotel communicate with guests via text, capturing important information about their stay. Loyalty programs help you personalize the guest experience and gather even more data about your customers. These technologies are about more than just collecting phone numbers and email addresses; they give you a window into knowing who a guest truly is and remembering their preferences and needs.
The bottom line is that the entire hotel organization serves the guest. By prioritizing in this way, you’ll have employees on the same page providing unforgettable, journey-focused guest experiences.