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The Visitor Experience Is Impacted Before They Get to
Your Door - the Value of Customer Service
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By John R. Hendrie

Destination Marketing Organizations are tasked to promote their area and their Hospitality Community and to encourage Visitors to travel to their specific venues.  An enormous amount of time and money is expended to frame the anticipated experience for that Visitor – the web site is filled with visions of pleasure, excitement and incentives; glossy publications tout the adventure, stimulating all the senses; and, the airwaves are abuzz with the care and attention the Visitor will receive wherever the choose to stay, dine, play and shop. 

Customer Service and quality have become the bywords for success in any industry, yet, we in the Destination business often forget that the Visitor Experience requires all the facets of the community to be Ambassadors, not just the Hospitality enterprises.  The sum of the experience is only as good as the performance of all those components.  Major hotels often miss this point.  Although they might have a wonderful operation, their guests do venture into the community, and they will forget that memorable hotel stay, if they encounter rudeness, unclean facilities, poor behavior and inattention.

The flavor of the Visitor Experience actually begins at the point of entry into the Destination area, which is typically by air or automobile.  Flying nowadays is about as nerve wracking and enervating as ever, so the Visitor arrives in a frenzied or numbed state.  They follow the human sweep from the gate through the concourse and finally past the security egress into the terminal, where they decide upon car rental, bus or cab to their ultimate destination, typically, a hotel.  

This is really the first opportunity to locally establish the flavor and begin to influence the Visitor Experience.  Car Rental companies are usually good Partners, dispensing information and sound directions, and most of the companies also require in depth Customer Service skills.  

Taxi cab drivers, however, often provide that vital First Impression to the Visitor, who, for a period of time, is held captive.  Even a cab can have ambiance:  cleanliness, condition of the upholstery, music, aroma.  And, the driver sets the tone – how the visitor is greeted, conversation, both genial and informative, courtesy, and dispatch of the ride.  The last thing you want addressed is the latest murder, malfeasance in City Hall, or the “underbelly”, which every destination does have. Many do need to be trained to accentuate the positive.  This is a superb opportunity, or not, to establish the Visitor relationship, which needs to be continually fulfilled throughout the visit.  Courtesy lorries to the specific hotels also provides the chance to demonstrate superb customer service – how you are greeted upon embarkation, assistance with luggage, the opportunity to point out places of interest, recitation of Destination activities, etc.

Arrival to a Destination by private automobile can be smooth or disconcerting, dependent upon a strong sense of direction by the Visitor and excellent signage.  Many times, though, the arrival mechanics do require assistance from a local service station or convenience store, a policeman or even the citizen.  The entire community must be brought into the Customer Service value system of the Destination, as reflected by a powerful and persuasive marketing campaign.

All components of a Destination community need to be in partnership with the DMO.  Several months ago, I participated in a meeting, hosted by the CVB of a major New England city.  The meeting was composed of Hospitality businesses, police, media, the Mayor’s Office, arena management, parking lot owners and others, as they reviewed the upcoming month of activities and conventions for the city.  The dialogue was open, anticipating problems, planning for emergencies, identifying accountabilities.  It was an impressive Roundtable, directed to providing the highest level of satisfaction for their Visitors’ Experience.  The CVB has embraced Quality Assurance and extensive Customer Service to elevate their Brand. 

 There are powerful Customer Service programs available, deliverable by the Internet, DVD’s, CD’s, or in person. Technology improvements have made these programs accessible and inexpensive. They address not only the Hospitality Front Line positions but also the infrastructure within a community. 

Customer Service is not rocket science.  However, a good on-going program emphasizes proper behaviors and skills, regarding our reception, how we listen, how we resolve problems and how we close the visitor “transaction”.  It is a group effort, and the benefits can be made quite obvious for everyone, particularly if tourism is the major economic engine for a Destination locale, region or even state.  Successful Destinations will be differentiated by a high level of service and quality delivery.  And, the Visitor Experience will be memorable, based upon the enthusiastic participation of the entire community. Give them the skills, empower them with information, enlist their good sense and courtesy!  We all are Ambassadors!  This is how your Destination shall be measured, and this does begin with a strategic commitment to Customer Service.



About the Author:  John Hendrie believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal for the memorable Visitor Experience.  Contact him at www.hospitalityperformance.com with your comments.
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Contact:
John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.
www.hospitalityperformance.com
978-346-4387
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Also See: The Independent  Restaurateur Challenge; Competing with the "Formulas" / John R. Hendrie / October 2005
Are you ready for Business? – A Hospitality Recovery Plan / John R Hendrie / October 2005
Destination "Damage Control" Starts with that Single Visitor Complaint / John R. Hendrie /  October 2005 
Grappling with Progress, A Destination Denies Chains / John R Hendrie / October  2005
Promoting the Dining Experience by Matching Expectations / John R Hendrie / September 2005
The Gratuity Revolution / John R Hendrie / August 2005
Plotting His Travels; Some Bumps Encountered - Chaper III / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Jacques Sets Up Shop or Jacques Joie Hospitality Advisory Establishes Rating Scheme / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Thats So Jacques' / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
The Symbol of Hospitality, the Pineapple, Has Morphed to That of a Kumquat; Hotel Operators Focus on the Guest Becoming Secondary / John R. Hendrie / August 2005
Ready for Pluckin'; Hospitality Represents that Fat Roaster, Just Sitting there, Plump and Contented / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
Literally Every Destination Marketing Organization Is Under Duress; The Challenge to CVB's / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
A Smile is Really a Simple Thing – an Expression of Welcome, No Cost Involved / John R. Hendrie / July 2005
Lead the Trend to Becoming Guest-Centric; Demonstrating Behavior Not Normally Experienced by the Guest / John R. Hendrie / June 2005
Hospitality QED, That's Latin to Me! / John Hendrie / June 2005
Unless You Operate a Business in a Very Remote Location, You Belong to the Amorphous “Brand-Scape” /  John R. Hendrie / June 2005 
Maximize the Performance of Your Greatest Asset - Your Employees / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
Preparing for the Assault by Organized Labor on Hospitality / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
Customer Service - Panacea or Placebo / John R. Hendrie / May 2005
How to Even the Playing Field, As Independents Suspiciously Eye the Chain Hotels / John R. Hendrie / April 2005
Oh, What a Web We Weave! Pitfalls with Descriptive Language / John R. Hendrie / April 2005
Woe is We! We in Hospitality Have Lost Touch and Share the Responsibility for Consumer Cynicism, Angst and Ennui / March 2005
Moving the Guest Comment Card from Paper to Paperless / John Hendrie / March 2005
Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association Launches 'Total Quality Destination' and Presents 'Gold Star of Excellence Awards' / March 2005
The Evolution of Guest Room Amenities / John Hendrie / February 2005
Advertising Integrity; Framing the Visitor's Expectation Through Print, Signage & Internet / John Hendrie / February 2005
Hospitality Trade Associations:  What Have You Done for Me Lately? / February 2005
I Would Like to See your Hospitality Standards. Where Are They? Anybody Seen Them? / John Hendrie / January 2005
Remarkable Hospitality - the Road Map to Excellence; Exceeding the Expectations of our Guests / John Hendrie / January 2005
Are Your Guests Expecting Mediocrity with Your Hospitality Services? Move Your Level of Excellence to the Remarkable / John Hendrie / December 2004
Guest Services - A Tradition Diminished / John Hendrie / December 2004
Rescue from Mediocrity; The Decline of Service Etiquette - A Sequel / John Hendrie / November 2004
Offering Crushed Pepper Before Tasting the Entrée; The Decline of Restaurant Service Etiquette / John Hendrie / October 2004
Destination Marketing – How to rebuild your Reputation and the upcoming Season after the Hurricanes / John Hendrie / September 2004
Six Factors Which Dictate Success in Performing Destination Marketing / John Hendrie / September 2004
Influencing the Consumer to Book Business through Your Commitment to Quality / Aug 2004
Major Hotel Operators Have Rediscovered Hospitality Fundamentals by Revisiting the Guest Room / John R. Hendrie / July 2004
Destination Marketing 101: Take Care of Mom / John R. Hendrie / June 2004
Service Unions Combine, Presenting Huge Challenge to Hospitality Industry / John R. Hendrie / March 2004
What Value Quality? Most Hospitality Operators Use the Term “Quality” In their Advertising. What Exactly Does that Mean? / John R. Hendrie / April 2004


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