Exclusive Feature: The easiest things in hotel business always seem to have the hardest implementation and the logical thinking tells us that the best structure of the hotels is the one, which encourages staff communication.
The reason is that staff communication helps the following:
- Guest requests to proceed quicker
- Guest requests to be fulfilled in full
- Guest requests to be professionally maintained with all follow-ups after these requests are satisfied
- Important data to be stored properly
- Important data to be transmitted without substantial losses
- Important data to be used at needed moments of time
All these factors guarantee that what the guests expect is usually done and never abandoned. Guest experience usually starts from the first contact with the hotel, when the guest makes sure that what is shown on the website, catalogue or simply heard from a friend can become part of his reality. This is one of the most important moments for the hotel. You can never miss the chance to make a good first impression.
If at this stage information provided to the guest and information requested by the guest is mistreated or misinterpreted, this becomes a huge disappointment. We all know that big hotels usually outsource call centers. However, every outsourcing process has to be maintained by in-house management.
Simply because in-house people are about their guests, while call-center employees do their job and never think about the guest experience. Many of them do not even imagine how the guest experience looks like.
Therefore, we recommend to wisely outsource all processes which are part of this ‘first impression setting’ of the guest experience. In other words, if such processes are outsourced, all information had to be stored and processed in-house and in full amount. We also recommend making random service checks of all your outsourcing agents (mystery calling) to make sure this whole cycle of information flow is properly addressed.
The second period, which is critical in terms of staff communication, is the actual arrival of the guest to the hotel. Your hotel’s departments may be working like Swiss clock in check-in procedures, baggage handling, welcome cocktails and other traditional experiences of guest arrival, but this Swiss clock will stop without the battery, or simply fuel, which drives your people to communicate with each other.
In our opinion, those hotels, which don’t make their employees, discuss work and guests at work are nonsense. Hotel staff has to share guest stories. Hotel staff cannot live without guest stories. Hotel staff needs to talk guests in order to make sure they do not forget anything the guest requests.
The request of the guest at check-in to make a short tour and show him the emergency exit on his floor is not spoken to the bellboy who brings the guest and his(her) luggage to the room. A simple call from front desk to the bellboy may save the situation. And this should be a priority despite the queue of others waiting for check-in and despite the fact that front desk does not have to be responsible for the actions of the bellboy.
There is always a temptation for the hotel staff to ‘forget’ things intentionally. Not because they hated this particular guest, but because they believe that their field of responsibility is so limited according to SOPs that they are not allowed to delegate and share functions with other employees.
Finally, the third moment, which is the longest one but probably the most unsuccessful if the first two were missed, is the actual stay of the guest. This is the ‘error correction time’. If the guest was mistreated at reservations office or during check-in, this is the best time to remind him(her) of his(her) importance to you.
Hotels may take information sharing seriously or may not. But the guests always tend to remember all their requests word by word, and will never be feeling comfortable and having this amazing safety feeling if you forget about something important to them. Make sure your hotel literally ‘speaks’, and this speech is short, precise, and guest-oriented.
Mila Petruk, CEO & Founder at Milina Outsourcing
Mila Petruk is a hospitality consultant and a founder of Milina Outsourcing which provides project-based consulting and outsourcing services including mystery guest audit, temporary staffing and training support. Being a hospitality industry enthusiast, Mila has a global insight into the developing trends of hotel and restaurant business all over the world. Having graduated from University Centre Cesar Ritz (Switzerland) in 2007 with MBA in Hotel and Tourism Management, Mila has obtained a rich international hotel work experience in Europe and Asia. Contact Mila at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.moconsulting.com.ua
Mila writes a regular column for 4Hoteliers.com.