Don’t wait ’til check-in to focus on guest satisfaction
Don’t wait ’til check-in to focus on guest satisfaction
18 JULY 2019 8:30 AM

Guest satisfaction is at the top of every GM's daily scope of work—and if it isn’t, it shows. Some of the factors that affect GSS can be addressed before the guest even checks in.

Picture this: A guest makes a reservation for one night. After a long day of work and travel, he makes it to your hotel, checks in, heads up to his room … and discovers the keycard doesn’t work.

He comes back downstairs, stands in line (again), has the problem corrected, and finally gets into his room, which he realize isn’t the room type he booked. Exhausted, he decides simply to settle. Then, in the middle of the night, he hears water dripping.

We’ve all had guests we’ve failed, multiple times, in one short stay. This is mostly preventable. Regardless the type of hotel we operate, how we work together as a team to take care of guests before they even arrive is what sets the average apart from the exceptional.

Guest satisfaction is at the top of every GMs daily scope of work—and if it isn’t, it shows. Every score we receive from a guest is a microcosm of the overall work that our team is doing daily. While there are myriad factors that impact GSS (guest satisfaction survey), a few of the most influential are team composition, building maintenance and cleanliness. If your GSS is low, or your scores are consistently declining, consider the following.

Your hotel team
Recruitment—and retention—is the key to every hotel’s success. Your property can be the newest, most luxurious hotel in the market, but if your people aren’t up to par, your guest satisfaction scores—and, inevitably, your revenue—will go down.

Who and how we hire is critical. My experience has taught me to spend time upfront hiring and training the right people for the right positions. If it turns out that someone is not the right fit, however, it’s important to cut ties sooner rather than later; the longer you keep an employee in an ill-suited role, the more they can influence the rest of your team and the customer experience.

Your physical property
Building maintenance is critical. You can have an old building that is on its way to being renovated and still enjoy high guest satisfaction scores when the property, no matter its age, is well-tended. If you don’t have a property maintenance (PM) program, this is your sign—get one.

“If a guest finds a hotel to be clean, friendly, and well-maintained, they will more than likely return a positive survey,” said Catlin Naser, dual-property GM at Island Hospitality. “Preventative maintenance goes a long way in giving off the feeling of a well-maintained hotel. Minor issues (door scuff marks, discolored caulk, etc.) can, in a guest’s eyes, make the hotel feel ‘worn.’ A solid preventative maintenance program and culture will keep the property feeling fresh, up-to-date, and will generally correct the majority of minor deficiencies in a guestroom before the guest sees them.”

A solid PM program ensures your maintenance team is getting to all guestrooms and public spaces on a regular basis. I recommend using a program that fits well for your team, one that allows for tracking in a lot of areas of the hotel including maintenance, lost and found, and front-desk communication.

Overall cleanliness
At a minimum, guests expect a clean room. I began my hospitality career as a room attendant, and I remember the housekeeping supervisor saying to me on day one: “Clean the room; make it look like no one else has ever stayed here.”

Those words have always stuck with me. While our guests know that other people have stayed in the room previously, they do want it to feel like they’re the first one. Our role as hotel managers/supervisors is to make sure that a fresh experience is presented to every guest, every time. All rooms must be inspected. Rooms in different areas of the hotel should be spot checked. The details are so important and there’s always something that can be missed. Is there hair anywhere? Are the pillows looking unhappy?

The more that we do in advance for our guests, the better their stay will be and, thus, the higher their satisfaction. And remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make them feel special.

“Make the guest feel valued,” Naser said. “Verbiage goes so much further than ‘free stuff.’ Remembering a guest’s name, recognizing their brand loyalty, asking them how their day has been. … A guest who genuinely feels valued will have loyalty towards your property.”

Not every issue that impacts GSS is preventable. It is how we manage the solution that keeps guests coming back and recommending.

Celeste Johnson has more than 10 years of hospitality experience, working in many different roles within major brands including Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt. Career highlights include opening Hampton Inn & Suites in Bellevue WA – the brand’s 2000th property. Celeste is currently the General Manager of Hyatt Place Garden City; she is specifically focused on blending operations, sales and revenue management with a passion in employee relations.

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