Months to Find a New Guest; A Moment to Lose One.
By Gay Lynn Williamson-Grigas MA. Psy
Monday, 23rd August 2010
In your hotel consider what investment goes into getting a guest to call and book a stay at your location?  How much advertising was done?  How many staff hired? How much time and energy in training with staff, operators and front-line?

How much patience and time was given to gain that guest trust?  Your building preparations and maintenance of the property? What did it take to have them call and give you their credit card and put their money into your hotel or establishment? 

Considering this investment is significant when in a moment that guest can be turned away by a negative encounter with one of your employees or managers. 

What took months and perhaps thousands of dollars to build can be lost in a moment. Your hotel and its ultimate success is only as good as its weakest employee. That might be a scary thought!  But even the best employee can be worn thin and not recognize their vulnerable condition.

When an upset or irate guest is turned off they will tell others of their negative encounter at your hotel.  They will post it on their personal Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and other review sites which potentially support your bookings. 

Take for example a recent article in INC.com magazine article How to Lose Customers and Alienate People how a cinema-chain employee with a rude e-mail to a customer complaint, and a Facebook boycott was born. (Article by Courtney Rubin March 2, 2010) The cinema patron wrote a strongly worded email complaint to the cinema owners and the vice- president responded with "go f***yourself.  If you don't have money for entertainment, get a better job, and don't pay for everything on your credit or check card."  The email was posted to her Facebook page and a boycott of the cinema followed with over 5000 people responding in one week, twice the population of the town. 

While training in Las Vegas I had an operator tell me of an experience when in an exhausted condition she thought she had pushed the mute button and it did not work.  She gave the guest an ear full not knowing the guest was hearing everything.  Obviously the employee was reprimanded by the supervisor that was notified.  But in that moment the guest was lost.  Additionally, the guest could have done more damage.

This does not have to happen if we could be aware of the condition we or others are in.  I shared with the employee one simple tool I have used for many years which I believe came from Over Eaters Anonymous called H-A-L-T.  The word "halt" means to "stop." 

And each letter is an acronym for a word.


Whenever we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, we need to stop, halt!  In this state of being hungry, angry, lonely and tired we are much more vulnerable to getting our buttons pushed.   We need to stop and do something to take care of ourselves before we get triggered or trigger someone else.   

Many hotel guests have all of these conditions going on upon arrival at the front desk. They have traveled a great distance, they are tired, and they may have not eaten in hours and as a result are angry or grumpy.  Any delays or unpleasant encounters will send this guest into a full fledge melt down going off on employees who may also be vulnerable. 

It is imperative to remember the role that empathy plays in customer service.  Empathy is a two way street.  The better I care for myself and have empathy for my own needs the better I can have empathy for others and take care of their needs.  Two way street, care for self and others are intimately connected. 

If I am not caring for my basic needs I will be much more vulnerable to going off inappropriately on guests or co-workers.  And we all know that feeling of being pushed to the breaking point and then saying or doing something we deeply regret later. Just like the vice –president of the cinema chain.  He never considered how far his angry e-mail would go; even an apology could not stop the boycott once it got going.

Remember the H-A-L-T the next time a guest is checking in; see them through those lenses of perception.  We can safely say that most of our guests need some care quickly.  Some hotels have done little things like cookies or fruit at the front desk and it has worked wonderfully to welcome guests experiencing low blood sugar.  

While at the same time we need to care for ourselves and recognize when we just need to stop!  It is much better to care for our basic needs and interrupt the pattern of a potentially negative encounter.  Being kind to ourselves has a great benefit in generating more kindness towards others. 

Every guest has had thousands of dollars invested to bring them in, once there we need to care for them while caring for ourselves.

Gay Lynn Williamson-Grigas, CEO of Grigas Consulting and author of Trigger-Proof Your Way to Success: 12 Tools to Keep Your Cool and Confidence in the Workplace, a corporate trainer and psychologist. Email grigasconsulting@gmail.com

Visit www.Trigger-Proof.com  For training or speaking engagements in the Hospitality Industry contact Kennedy Training Network a trusted training provider in the industry at 954-981-7689 or www.KennedyTrainingNetwork.com
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