News for the Hospitality Executive
Train Your Hotel Team To Use The Language Of Hospitality: Part Two
By Doug Kennedy
May 4, 2012
This article is a follow-up to my last article entitled: Train Your Team To Use The Language of Hospitality Part One
As we have said, there is no doubt that non-verbal signals such as eye contact, body language, and facial expressions strongly help convey meaning during human interactions. Yet the words we choose also impact interpersonal communications. Therefore it’s important to help your hospitality and guest contact staff to choose their words carefully when interacting with guests, prospects, and even their “internal” customers from other departments. In the last article we explored numerous examples commonly used words and phrases along with better alternatives. Thanks to all of the readers who submitted their additional examples of words and phrases to focus on:
Not That: “You’ll have to….”
Say This: “May I suggest that you…” or “May I ask you to…”
When some guests hear the words “You’ll have to,” it brings out the 17 year old rebel teenager in them and they draw a line in the sand and it can often lead to one of those “Oh no I won’t!” – “Oh yes you will!” deadlocks. A much better response can be elicited when we use the phrase “May I suggest that you…”
Not That: “I can’t believe they put you in this room!” or “They were supposed to fix this problem last week!”
Say This: “I apologize for the inconvenience. Let’s see what we can do for you now.”
The hotel engineering, maintenance, and housekeeping departments are faced with the unique challenge that the majority of their guest contact comes during circumstances where something has gone wrong. It is important that they express support of other departments/divisions and avoid placing blame. A few words of empathy and a simple and sincere apology can go a long way in defusing emotionally intense guest encounters and turning things back around for the rest of their stay.
Not That: “Sure.”
Say This: “You are most welcome!”
Similar to the phrase “No problem” addressed in the previous article, this phrase is also used in response to a guest’s statement of thanks. When guests make comments such as “Wow, thank you so much for your excellence help on this,” instead of responding “Sure,” train your staff to simply say “You’re most welcome” or “It was our pleasure to assist.”
Not That: “Yes?”
Say This: “Hello, welcome! How can I assist you today?”
Similar to the commonly used greeting statement at registration of “Checkin’ in?” addressed in the previous article, I have twice in the last month been greeted at the front desk with the word “Yes?” usually with a raised eyebrow and nod. Much better to use a welcoming statement to greet the guest, even if they are there just to ask a question.
Not That: “GoodafternoonthanksforcallingBrandXHotelthisisDoug.”
Say This: “Good afternoon, thanks for calling Brand X Hotel, this is Doug?”
Some frontline associates use the right words, but they speak so quickly and without any pauses that the greeting sounds like someone talking with a mouth full of marbles. Train your staff to speak at a moderate pace and to use proper inflection, with energy.,.
Not That: “Yep” and “Uh-huh.”
Say This: “Yes,” “Absolutely.”
Encourage the staff to use proper grammar and complete words and to avoid common slang such as these.
Not That: “Your credit card was declined.”
Say This: “We were unable to get approval from your bank. Do you have another method of payment?”
When we say “Your credit card was declined” it sounds like we personally have chosen not to accept it. With the second example, the responsibility is moved to the card provider.
Not That: “All I have left is our X suites.”
Say This: “Fortunately we still have our suites available.”
When hotels are sold out, it is typically either the highest rated accommodations or the least desirable, such as those with limited views. When all you have left is all you have left, never say it’s all you have left! If you do, it will make what’s left sound like leftover dinner. Instead present the remaining options in a positive way by saying “Fortunately what we still have open for your dates are…” When offering last-sell type rooms, first let them know about any glaringly obvious negatives, then remind them what is good about the option such as “You’ll still have all the same amenities” or “You’ll still be able to enjoy the hotel activities.”
Not That: “That special rate is not available.”
Say This: “That special rate is sold-out.”
When we tell a guest a rate is not available, it makes it sound like the rate exists, but we are not giving it to you! Better to say “That rate is sold out” and then to ask “Are your dates flexible? I’d be happy to help find that rate for other dates.”
Not That: “We can’t guarantee that…”
Say This: “We can make a note of your request.”
Sometimes hotels are not able to guarantee factors such as view, location, or connecting rooms, although it does seem to be a positive trend that hotels are increasingly moving towards “confirming” these request. Even if your operational constraints do not allow you to guarantee such requests, it is much better to focus on the “can dos” in a positive way.
It is hoped that you and your hotel managers
will use the
examples from this two-part series to review with your hotel team at
in-house training or departmental meetings.
In doing so, ask them to brainstorm other examples of
phrases they hear every day, along with better alternatives.
Once you have exposed your hospitality team
to the concept of using the language of hospitality, the next step is
to reinforce it. Here are a few ideas:
To Learn More About
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Your Hotel Team To Use The Language Of Hospitality: Part One / Doug
Kennedy / March 2012
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Doug Kennedy / January 2012
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Training Budget Reflects Belief Systems / Doug Kennedy / September
Voice Reservations: The Forgotten Channel / Doug Kennedy / August
Time For Today's Technology-Focused Hotel Salespeople To "Go Old School"
/ Doug Kennedy / July 2011
Let A Culture Of Profitable Mediocrity Infiltrate Your Hotel / Doug
Kennedy / June 2011
Examples Observed From TSA Airline Security Staff / Doug Kennedy /
Hotel Front Desk Is a Distribution Channel / Doug Kennedy / April
Your Sales Agents To Execute Your Hotel’s Rate Strategies / Doug
Kennedy / March 2011
Hoteliers Still Make Voice Channels A Priority / Doug Kennedy /
Hotel Sales Superstars Love “Clueless” Callers! / Doug Kennedy /
If A Hotel Brand Could Ask The Same Question Southwest Airlines Asks In
Their New Ad? / Doug Kennedy / December 2010
Should Utilize New Tools For Measuring Hospitality and Guest Service
Efficiency / Doug Kennedy / November 2010
Your Team To Master “Channel Conversion” Techniques / Doug Kennedy
/ November 2010
Strategies For Your Front Desk and Reservation Teams / Doug Kennedy
/ September 2010
|Training Is Key To Turning “Desk Clerks” Into Front Desk Salespersons / March 2007|
|It’s Time To Give Hotel Guests What They REALLY Need and Want Daily! Key Basics Some Hotels Still Fall Short On / Doug Kennedy / September 2006|