Every hotel company has policies and rules to ensure consistency in guest service, yet many struggle to deliver consistently across the guest experience. There needs to be consistency in the guest’s end-to-end experience with a property - beyond the front desk, across all departments and lines of business. How can a hotel with many managers and employees (front and back office) ensure that guests can trust that any employee they encounter can be relied on to do the right thing?
Every guest has been in the position where expectations were not met, and every hotel employee has been in the position where they need to work to rebuild with a guest who was let down. These occurrences are inevitable, yet repairable. I remember several years ago working as an Assistant Rooms Operations Manager at a full-service hotel in New England. We had a guest who was considered to be a high-level executive with our loyalty program with whom I had maintained a particularly good relationship. This person was a frequent business traveler who stayed at the hotel often, usually three or four weeks at a time.
I remember there being an issue one day with this guest’s credit card authorization. As a dedicated guest known to all, the guest expected that the hotel would be reasonable and flexible. This person stayed with us often, and never had there been any problems. At the same time, policies exist so that the hotel can protect its bottom line - it is, after all, a business. The accounting department crunched the numbers and it was confirmed that the guest owed the hotel approximately $5,000.
I had a good relationship with the guest, and so I offered to handle the issue directly. I first established a deadline for payment by the guest, then we got to the bottom of the issue. The guest shared with me personal challenges that he admitted he would not necessarily share with others at the hotel. Trust and loyalty had been reestablished. A few days later, however, the guest missed the deadline for payment. Unfortunately, at this point the conversation had to be escalated to senior management. It was learned that there was miscommunication across other areas of the hotel after our private conversation. The guest did end up paying the bill, and I spoke with him again to maintain a strong relationship.
Here are some quick tips for hotel managers to ensure consistency in guest service for stronger loyalty, satisfaction, and trust:
Be honest with yourself: Use slipups as an opportunity to look inward at what should have been done differently, and why it wasn’t. Policies are in place, and for good reason, but that’s no excuse to avoid improvement.
Focus on journey-driven teams: Hotels need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end guest journey across different functions. Stop thinking about “just” the front desk.
Focus on emotional consistency: There needs to be consistency around emotions. It cannot be denied that experiences are driven by feelings. The way a guest feels directly affects their satisfaction and trust. Empathy needs to be used in every interaction, especially now during these challenging times to really listen to your guests. Help your team manage and deliver your brand promise everyday with guests that bring up challenges.
And consistency around communications: Your hotel should also prioritize consistency around communications (promises kept, alignment of external communications with internal actions, alignment of internal actions across different employees and departments).
Get more tips and insights on guest and employee experience here.