Training and conditioning a hotel’s front-line staff to emphasize service and guest experiences will go a long way toward raising online ratings from guests.
Some professionals in the hospitality industry say that achieving a 100% overall service rating isn’t possible. While achieving a perfect overall service score may be rare, the claim that it’s impossible just isn’t true.
Take for example a trio of Marriott-branded hotels—Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Courtyard by Marriott—in Loveland, Colorado, that have all recently achieved 100% overall service ratings despite varying ages of the properties.
While certain elements, such as cost, brand loyalty, location and amenities, may influence decisions on where to book a hotel reservation, guests traveling for leisure or business desire a positive, enjoyable service experience. Using team members to create positive guest experiences—and not relying solely on the physical hotel product—is a surefire way to eliminate poor encounters that can send a guest looking elsewhere for their lodging needs.
Many factors relating to service can impact a guest’s experience during their stay at your hotel and can set you apart from your competition. That includes everything from their arrival and the smoothness of the check-in process, to room cleanliness, to the overall anticipation of their needs, to their eventual check-out and departure.
Performing all of these services well leads to not only positive guest experiences but also to stronger customer loyalty and increased bookings via referrals and repeat business. That ultimately increases the ability to capture higher rates than competing area hotels.
In the digital age of social media and online reviews, there is no more powerful marketing tool than your guests and their feedback. According to Tripadvisor, 79% of its users read reviews before choosing a hotel. If guests have a good experience while staying at your hotel, they’re more likely to recommend your property to family and friends and leave positive comments and reviews online.
Here are some tips and strategies to implement in an effort to improve guest satisfaction scores on your way to achieving 100% overall service.
Hiring to create a culture of service
Interviewing and hiring authentic team members—those who may not have prior experience in the service or hospitality industry but who possess a heart for relationships and a desire to serve—makes the task of creating a culture of service that much more achievable.
It’s much easier to teach new team members about the hospitality industry than it is to teach someone to be passionate about customer service.
Train for consistency
Once you have the right people in place, training team members to do simple things like talk with guests, learn their names, share appreciation for their stay and find creative ways to say “yes” so that guests never feel like they’re being told “no” goes a long way toward ensuring the guest experience is second to none.
It’s important that a hotel’s team, across all departments and roles, is properly trained and committed to ensuring guests have a great experience, so maintaining that consistency year-round becomes habit. Setting the bar high and never letting that expectation slip ensures that there are no limits to service and that guests remain the focus.
Maintaining a high standard is much simpler than reestablishing one.
Share feedback with team, positive or negative
Communication with team members is essential when pursuing exemplary guest service. Sharing feedback with each department, good or bad, is an opportunity to both reinforce strengths and to draw attention to shortcomings that may lead to unsatisfactory guest experiences.
Holding team members accountable for performance appraisal scores emphasizes the standards to which the hotel is working in pursuit of superior guest satisfaction.
Being transparent, open and honest about what your hotel does well and what it can do differently to eliminate substandard customer interactions will remove barriers to higher guest satisfaction scores by helping to build a team that takes pride in its work.
Achieving a perfect overall service score isn’t the result of the work of one person, but rather a hotel’s entire team, from front desk to housekeeping, food and beverage, management and maintenance. Celebrating those successes, whether at a stand-up meeting or team outing, during an appreciation lunch or through incentives and bonuses, encourages team member buy-in.
Showing appreciation for and recognizing and rewarding team members who are mentioned by name on social media and in guest satisfaction surveys, for example, will do well to boost your team’s morale and desire to win guests over.
There is no better indicator of your hotel team’s ability to exceed expectations and provide superior service than a guest’s satisfaction during their stay. Apply these strategies and standards at your hotel and your team will find that 100% overall service is, in fact, possible.
Lynda Campbell is vice president of training for Stonebridge Companies, a privately owned, innovative hotel owner, operator and developer headquartered in Denver. Amanda Wheadon is area general manager for Stonebridge Companies in Loveland, Colorado.
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