What are the striking differences between a great hotel that is top-notch in every way and a mediocre one? What does it take to stand out as the best from the rest? The difference between excellence and mediocrity is smaller than you think.
The key to being different and standing out from the rest is essentially about providing added-value through highly personalized guest service. That is what I will cover in a nutshell in this post and some of the basic steps that lead to that desirable outcome I refer to as excellence in service, which each and every single time leaves the guests with lingering warm memories and lasting positive impressions. Providing exceptional levels of guest service and creating wow moments is based on what I call the timeless principles of hospitality, some of which you will find in the list below. In essence, it is the little things that make a big difference in a guest’s stay, such as being genuine when interacting with them the first time, showing excitement over their plans and sharing the joy over a beautiful sunny morning and so on.
Let’s face it: there are gorgeous hotels in every town in every city. Guests have a lot more options than they have ever had at any time in history. The leading brands of hospitality keep bringing their new hotels into the luxury hotel market. The promising new hotel brands are entering into the race offering more choices, variety and concept to the guests. New mergers and acquisitions are taking place between big corporations to polish and revive their decades old service and to become the first choice of the guests again. In short, we live in a very competitive world, where change and improvement in the service are happening on unprecedented levels. Those who don’t rest on their laurels but consistently deliver more value than guests expect are the ones who are likely to survive and thrive.
A memorable stay experience begins with a warm welcome. First impressions matter a lot and set the tone of a guest’s stay the moment a guest steps into the hotel lobby and approaches the front desk. A warm greeting is one of the most important aspects of a guest’s stay, which is in fact assessed in surveys sent to guests upon check-out by the leading brands in the hospitality field. A warm and genuine welcome invites the guest to come back to the desk whenever they need assistance during the course of their stay while also positively contributing to the first impression the guests experience upon their arrival to the property.
In the world of luxury, where so much importance is attached to appearance, being genuine makes a hotel stand out and makes it more appealing to the guests. I am convinced that being genuine is the key ingredient in the exceptional guest service. A guest stay experience does not feel the same way without it. When we are genuine, exceptional guest service appears to flow naturally, with the hospitality professional sincerely, enthusiastically and attentively taking care of the guest.
Use Guests’ Name
What is the sweetest sound to anyone’s ear? The answer is obvious: their own name! There is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name. Those who read Dale Carnegie’s timeless phenomenal book called How to Win Friends and Influence People know what I am talking about. In order to make your guests feel special, valued and cared for, use your guests’ name whenever possible. This step is also part of being genuine when serving to guests.
In order to connect with guests at a deep emotional level and exceed their expectations, we must be dedicated to being excellent communicators and sharpening our communication skills on a consistent basis. Emotional connection is basically established through genuine and polite interactions. By observing, anticipating mood and acting accordingly, it is easy to get positive emotional reactions and prove to guests that their satisfaction and needs are your primary priority.
People like to deal with people that they are convinced understand them with ease and anticipate their needs accurately. More often than not, the most crucial skill in dealing with other people’s emotions is empathy: the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and to make them feel that you are able to see the situation from their point of view. This allows us to form relationships with guests, provides insights into people’s thought patterns and makes it easy to predict their responses. The ability to empathize and deal with someone else’s feelings encourages a guest to talk to the hotel staff, and has a positive impact on the overall stay experience.
Being pro-active means taking full responsibility and ownership for your actions rather than just watch things unfold in a spontaneous way. Being proactive enables us to anticipate challenges and come up with new solutions ahead of time. Employees must use their own initiative to identify what needs to be done when necessary and appropriate. If they wait until they are told, or follow only prescribed actions, they will be both inefficient and ineffective. When asked about which habit is the most important habit, Dr. Stephen R. Covey who is the famous author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People stated that Pro-activity is the most important habit as it provides the foundation for all the other habits. This is also a crucial character trait that allows people to excel rapidly in their chosen craft. The bottom line is that you can always effect the outcome positively by being pro-active, anticipating the next best step and taking action with a sense of urgency.
Go Beyond the Extra Mile
Guests consider their stay experience as excellent when they are convinced that they received more value than they expected. The best thing about extra mile is that it is never crowded. Going beyond the extra mile should be part of each employee’s philosophy. Needless to say this one sets the best apart from the rest in most cases.
Rabindranath Tagore once stated that “We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.” Humility, which is a powerful and effective way of serving to people and leading teams, is a valuable business asset that gets forgotten often. It is also about the commitments and the promises we make. A humble person tends not to over-promise and under-deliver. A humble person is also more likely to build strong and influential relationships. It is a well-known fact that humble people tend to be the most effective leaders and are more likely to be high performers in team settings.
Robert Bosh put it far more eloquently than I ever could in his following quote: “I would rather lose money than trust.” At the end of the day, maintaining a good reputation matters a lot more than the revenue you generate. Integrity must be a value shared by all hotel employees, because nothing works without integrity in the long-term. Lack of integrity results in relationship failures, loss of trust that is almost always impossible to mend and a decline in reputation that eventually leads to loss of business. Put simply, integrity is about honoring your word. Regardless of the situation, you have to live up to your word when you make a promise. When unexpected things come up, be committed to taking immediate action to restore your integrity.
A fond farewell that is done attentively and genuinely is as important as the warm greeting that sets the tone of a stay experience. The first thing people will remember when they think of their hotel stay is the last moment, regardless of how their hotel stay might be up to that point. That said, this one seals the deal when not neglected. Make sure you show the same level of professionalism, enthusiasm and care when your guests are leaving your hotel.