Great guest service is neither easy nor cheap. Many steps must be taken to ensure consistent great guest service across the board. Great guest service is rare; more commonly found in boutique hotels are good, average and poor service. If you can raise the bar in your organization, you will instantly stand out among your competition. To that end, I recommend Jim Collins’ book — “Good to Great” — to see an extremely well-articulated and defined version of the differences between merely good and great, the steps to get there and the benefits of reaching “great.”
One of the major barriers to hospitality companies achieving great guest service is cost; yet I am going to argue that upfront costs can yield a 10:1 return in profits. This is especially true in boutique hotels, where customer loyalty is particularly important, and the cost of getting a new customer is high. Retention and word-of-mouth marketing is crucial.
Here are seven cost-effective steps toward creating a culture of great service:
- Recruit for attitude and integrity, including detailed reference checks. Recruit friendly, caring people. You can teach hotel skills, but not attitude and personality.
- Have a clear brand or mission statement and articulate it to employees and prospects during the interview process.
- Spend the time to conduct dedicated employee orientation geared to making a good first impression.
- Train staff in hospitality standards, not just job duties, and be sure they are reinforced with written materials and manuals.
- Provide ongoing training; it shows an investment in your people — by far the most important resource in hospitality.
- Conduct regular performance reviews. Everyone wants feedback. It is a motivator and inspires people to become better at what they do.
- Standard-test with mystery shoppers and use customer surveys to monitor progress. Accept nothing but the best from your service professionals.
When great service happens, profits increase in seven ways:
- Frequency of guest visits increase.
- Average length of stay increases.
- Guest retention increases, and guests won’t “shop around” for a hotel the next time they visit your area.
- Guests are willing to pay more for great service.
- Reservation referrals increase, turning your past guests into an extension of your marketing team.
- Guests will want to spend more time on your property per stay, benefiting F&B, retail and spa sales.
- Employee retention will be greater, saving you cost of training and hiring new people (estimated US$3,000 per line staff and US$6,000 per salaried supervisor/manager).
We have seen this work over and over again. Great service can increase revenues, reduce human resources and training expenses and maximize profits!