“Authentic” is so overused in the hotel industry I laugh at my using it in the title of this post. But to our travelers that is what they expect, an authentic, one-of-a-kind, forever etched in their memory experience. And this expectation has been especially apparent during these tumultuous times, where travel has changed from that of a regular occurrence to one, for the majority of Americans, which is now considered a luxury.
So, how do we create this experience for our guests you ask? As we speak there are multitudes of actions being utilized by hoteliers all around the globe. Some are offering deep discounts and loads of amenities, endangering their rate integrity. Others are taking on the mantra of ‘spend money to make money’ and are undergoing multi-million dollar renovations. Some have gone as far as offering complimentary in room wi-fi (gasp!) I know it is the sin of all hotel sins.
However, some hotels have chosen to invest more in their employees, looking to life coaches and improvisational comedy experts as trainers. These training sessions help workers better communicate with the guest and arm them with buzz words to further develop that genuine connection. And this is where that authentic customer experience everyone is so fond of comes in to play – through your employees and their use of good ol’ customer service.
Now when I say customer service, I mean CUS-TO-MER service, not just a smile here and there or a curt ‘how was your stay?’ I mean complete interaction from the arrival of each guest until they depart. From the front desk agent welcoming them by name, to the suggestions they receive for dinner from their complimentary shuttle driver, to the handwritten welcome note on their pillow from the General Manager. The guests stay is no longer just an overnight stay, it is a whole experience that we, as hotel employees, create and foster over their time with us.
As hotel employees we need to be proactive; anticipating any issues the guest may encounter and having a plan at the ready to make sure the problem is avoided and their flawless stay continues. Along those same lines, each employee should be of the mind-set that their priority is to create an exceptional experience for every guest that walks through the door as well as being equipped and empowered with the correct tools to make it happen. The travel agent, sales person, internet webpage, whomever! can sell the dream, but the employees are the heart of the operation and they bring it to life.
In a time where hotels permeate the marketplace and when price can very easily trump service, it is imperative that the overall guest/hotel interaction is positive. I steadfastly believe that the creation of a loyal guest is a direct byproduct of the ‘authentic’ experience they encounter during their hotel stay.
So, to all my fellow hoteliers out there – go, prosper and above all, be authentic!