News for the Hospitality Executive
|By J. Ragsdale Hendrie, July 2007
Reputations are easily made, and often lost just as quickly. This is ever so apparent in the Age of Information, where we all are bombarded by the minute and caught in that data web, you know, that “enfant terrible”, known as the Internet.
We all have different definitions of what a Brand represents. It might be Value, Price, a sense of feeling, touch or panache. It still boils down to reliability, and how well we deliver this product or service is determined by the Consumer, now heavily armed and influenced with data, opinions, even the immediacy of pictures. Thus, our Brand is surrounded by forces prepared to puncture all our hard work, deflate the message we have crafted so carefully, and stomp us to oblivion.
Thomas (you either hate him or love him, but the man sure knows how to write and make you think) Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times deliciously caught our dilemma in an Op-Ed piece on June 27, 2007. “When everyone has a blog, a My-Space page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cellphone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is a filmmaker… We’re all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer – and each of us so much more transparent.” And, we thought we had troubles with Guest Reviews and Critiques in the local newspaper.
This is a whole new world! We now can see into every closet, around every corner, nook and cranny. “This is Your Life”, via Candid Camera – immediate, no holds barred, may the Best Man Win. Heady challenges for Hospitality. Your past is your present, and your future depends upon how well you conduct yourself now.
Mr. Friedman gave us a glimpse into how we can tackle this thorny problem, quoting Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, a Business Ethics Company. “Today ‘what’ you make is quickly copied and sold by everyone. But, ‘how’ you engage your customers, ‘how’ you keep your promises and ‘how’ you collaborate with Partners – that’s not easy to copy, and that is where companies can now really differentiate themselves”. Isn’t that really how we market and promote ourselves – our differences? We present our Brands with our various messages, what we do well and why the Consumer should spend their discretionary dollars with us for lodging, dining, entertainment and recreation. Come on down, come on in, take a number, have a seat. We will WOW you with Product, Service and Facility, and it will be memorable! That is our Promise. What about the Delivery? Oops, potential disconnect.
Let’s dissect Mr. Seidman’s comments as they relate to the Hospitality Industry. Our landscape in many ways does look pretty bland and similar. Rather than knock-off copies, Corporate America, at least, has found comfort in sameness, architecturally as well as product. It is boring and easy to duplicate, and the corporate logos reek of familiarity – a strength for some, abject mediocrity for others. We do the Consumer no sensory favors. However, we do have opportunity in the means to differentiate ourselves in the Marketplace.
1. How we engage our Customers. Firstly, we probably need to humanize that somewhat. Heads in beds, covers, ticket- holders, etc. do our image no good. We need to show our care, our attention and our thanks and bring our Guests clearly into the equation. We need to ask about their Experience with us, where we exceeded expectations and fell short. When they are with us, they are Kings, Queens, Royal Couples. When they leave, we must make every effort to have them remember us positively. It is not just that First Impression. It is the ongoing, minute by minute Impression – our stimuli, their response.Ah, this age of Transparency. Have you empowered your Employees to handle Guest Complaints? When was the last time you interacted with a Guest beyond a cursory “Hello”? When was the last time you took a Vendor to lunch and tapped their broad resources for ideas? Have you taken a fresh look at your Marketing? Are you the Brand?
Reliability is about trust, leadership and collaboration, and we have that opportunity to outmaneuver and outperform in the Marketplace even while under that intrusive Internet microscope. Did you see that YouTube dog who skateboards….
The author believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the Portal to the Memorable Experience. Seek Solutions: www.hospitalityperformance.com
|Also See:||No Doorman to Greet You! How Reputations Fade / John R. Hendrie / July 2007|