What Progress in the War for Enhanced Guest Experience?
By John Hendrie ~ Regular views on global issues
Saturday, 27th September 2014

Our terminology has become more truculent and contentious as we compose, frame and wage our efforts for consumer awareness and recognition of our various brands;

This century, we have had the 'Bed Wars', then we moved into the 'Amenities War', ever ramping up our escalation of strategies and tactics to remain competitive or take the lead.

Now, we are looking at the 'experiential', surely a stealth movement. 

We denounce the “guerilla” tendencies of organized labor; we pour millions into “reconstruction” - more lodging options " Brand portfolio proliferation, newly built hotels, renovated or converted properties.  We “surgically strike”, using our political capital to crush global movements which threaten some standardization of product and service in our businesses (what is a three star rated property in Uganda would be a mere mention in the UK). 

And, we debate in every forum available our position(s) on immigration, wages and health care, perhaps not understanding that the targeted audience represents the very face of hospitality, in many cases, our employees - our ambassadors.  Shooting ourselves in the foot are we?

The beneficiaries should be the consumer, the hospitality businesses which perform, and the elevated stature of excellence across the board.  But, the messages and actions have become blurred and the objectives less than decisive and distinctive.

“Offensives” always begin with the hospitality industry politicians, those we have elected/hired to represent our best interests.  Those would be the executives of the International, National, State and Local Lodging and Restaurant Associations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, and Chambers of Commerce.  Naturally, they call upon their generals and senior officers for status, statistics, analysis and counsel.  This corps is usually composed of flag company executives, hotel/restaurant management companies and REITs.  Everyone else is the “foot soldier”, responding, as best they can, to the mission (however slippery that might be).

At some point, the players, at whichever level, must assess the campaign " those in the field questioning the generals, the generals tasking the leadership, and leadership recognizing the challenges and responding accordingly.  Everyone has the obligation and responsibility to voice concern and demand accountability.  If one chooses to remain silent, they have acquiesced and must ride the current tide.  Oh, you silent majority!

Many in the industry are doing a flat out wonderful job.  Some Destination Marketing Organizations are expert at rallying their troops, soliciting opinions, being inclusive, action and results oriented. 

The same can be said for many trade and professional associations. Some corporate entities have absolutely forged the way to enhance the guest experience.  And, in every community we have individual contributors, who run thoughtful and inspiring businesses.

But, what about the poor consumer, who watches all of our machinations and messages, is perhaps influenced by our marketing, confused when they see our standings in terms of wages paid and industry/staff turnover, and disappointed when they are tempted to the hospitality landscape? Have we granted them “refugee status”?

All they want is value for the price, expectations met as advertised, and, preferably a memorable experience.  In some eyes, we have lost the battles, compromised the war, and wasted the whole enchilada.  We can do better!

John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog, focusing on anything and everything about customer experience. LRA Worldwide is the leading global provider of Customer Experience Measurement services for multinational companies with complex customer interactions. For over 30 years, LRA’s innovative brand standards audits, quality assurance inspections, mystery shopping programs, research, and consulting services have helped ensure our clients deliver consistent, memorable, and differentiated experiences to their customers. Many of the world's preeminent global hospitality brands, as well as companies in the gaming, dining, healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, retail and travel industries choose LRA to help them measure and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit www.LRAWorldwide.com

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