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The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas Embraces Guests as 'Ohana'
by Deploying VOC Systems Guest Feedback Solution


Unique mid-stay spoken reporting system helps renowned Maui resort bolster its impeccable
reputation by capturing and positively impacting guest experience
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Maui, HI — May 14, 2013 — Situated along the breathtaking North Ka’anapali Beach on Maui is The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. In this tropical island paradise, General Manager Angela Nolan encourages each member of her staff to embrace all guests as their own ohana, which means family in Hawaiian.

A cornerstone of the ohana culture begins with a continuous understanding and communication of guest experiences, without which relationships can languish. Guest feedback is traditionally received following a guest’s departure via Starwood’s Guest Experience Index (GEI)-- surveys emailed to guests. But in light of growing competition and heightened guest expectations, property management looked beyond traditional feedback and sought an understanding of detailed guest experiences during the stay.  If this understanding could be systematized, they believed it would provide timely information leading to better decisions and faster, more effective service recoveries, associate coaching and preventive actions.

The solution: VOC Systems
VOC Systems, or “Voice of the Customer” Systems, is a pioneer in the new area of mid-experience spoken comment reporting. The company’s systems are implemented in, and celebrated by, a fast growing number of globally branded hotels and resorts. When Nolan learned about the performance improvements seen at other properties utilizing the technology, she and her team took steps to introduce the method at The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas.
 
“Knowing how large our four diamond resort is, and how important it is to us to not only meet – but exceed – guest expectations,” Nolan says, “there was a great opportunity to implement VOC Systems in order to receive and react to, constructive feedback for our team. The most important feature of VOC Systems is that we could hear directly from guests in real-time, while they were still vacationing with us, rather than after they left the property.”

Brad Kesel, CEO, VOC Systems, says, “Within the year that VOC Systems has been implemented at The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, we have received nothing but accolades. The staff has whole-heartedly embraced the technology and the property has catapulted its already stellar guest ratings by continuously acting on unique knowledge of guest experiences.”

How it works:

  • Within each villa, placards are placed near room phones inviting guests to share their experiences (areas for improvement and compliments) with the general manager.
  • Using a local extension, guests leave a free-form voice mail for the general manager and his or her executive team, any time of the day or night.
  • The message is immediately converted to text, coded and sent by email with audio links to the senior level management—minutes after the guest hangs up.
  • The management is then able to forward the email to relevant departments to prioritize and address problems, or immediately recognize employees delivering outstanding service. Department heads and managers at the resort carry smart phones, so they have access to the messages 24/7. 
In addition to instant emails, senior managers have the ability to view an online database of their property’s coded guest comments, one that delivers summary-to-detail graphs and text reports, along with sophisticated search capability.

“The system allows us to correct any guest issues as well as hear from guests about what we are doing right,” Nolan says. “Originally, we saw VOC Systems simply as a tool that would allow us to receive and resolve problems during a guest’s stay. But, much to our pleasure, we have been very surprised at the number of guests who have shared detailed compliments as well.”

An important part of the process is to give guests confidence that their comments matter and they are actually listened to. To ensure guests that their messages were not only received but acted on, Nolan and her associates (employees) take the extra step to call guests back instantly to acknowledge their comments were appreciated, heard and being addressed. “Some guests are truly shocked when they receive our call back,” Nolan states. “Many of them even say that they were sure the message would be lost in space, but figured they’d call anyway. This allows our associates to really connect and build relationships with our guests, live and in-person, and be able to engage with them while they are here. That is invaluable.”

A work culture where the spirit of ohana reigns
Nearly 800 associates are responsible for the day-to-day operations at The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Assistant Director of Rooms, Mary Kim, reports that the work culture has been significantly impacted, and the team has embraced the technology as part of the daily routine.

Kim says, “To be able to acknowledge associates who normally would not be recognized is very powerful. Guests report on activity not only from our front office agents – whom you hear about most frequently because they have the most direct interaction with guests; but also about housekeeping, security, back-of-house operations and others. These are interactions we do not typically have the opportunity to hear about and it is great for us, and them, to get that feedback.”

Nolan says that the system has definitely boosted employee morale. “We play VOC messages received from guests daily in stand-up briefings with associates,” she says. “They are able to hear the tone and inflection of the guest feedback - both positive and negative – and it really resonates with them. Because the message is in the guest’s own words, it is unfiltered and objective; it’s different from being told by me, or a supervisor. The message really speaks to them, and they take each piece of dialogue very seriously, and to heart.”

Nolan notes that the team is playfully competitive, so when one associate in a particular department receives a compliment, associates in other departments want to step up their service delivery, aspiring to be publicly recognized by their peers and management. When this happens, service scores escalate, and associates celebrate each other’s service successes.

As seen online…
Like most hoteliers today, the Westin Ka’anapali team watches social media very closely. Nolan is comforted in the fact that online reviews by past vacation owners have mentioned that the property has an ability to provide guests with an easy channel to the general manager from their room during their stay, which has a positive impact on the experience.

“We know we’re not perfect, but we try very hard to be,” Nolan says. “For guests and vacation owners, we get the message from them loud and clear that seeking their advice, ideas, complaints and compliments during the stay—and acting on that information immediately—is a game-changer for them. This really gives us confidence VOC Systems delivers a significant return based on enhanced relationships with guests and owners. The fact that guests feel like they’re being listened to means that not only is there is a very good chance they will come spend their vacation with us again in the future, but they will be powerful advocates for new guests and owners.”

And that…is at the heart of embracing ohana

For more information about VOC Systems, go to: www.vocsys.com.

About VOC Systems
Launched in 2007, VOC Systems (aka Voice of the Customer Systems) is a pioneer in the area of mid-experience spoken comment reporting, an innovative method of capturing unique knowledge about individual guest needs, advice, ideas, compliments and trends – in real time, allowing hospitality organizations to respond and adapt quickly to fast changing, increasingly demanding customer and market conditions. VOC Systems' award-winning ExpressWay™ solution provides hotel managers with efficient and effective tools to improve guest satisfaction, make successful recoveries, motivate, coach and recognize employees and reap measurable financial returns. Based in Atlanta, VOC Systems has been implemented by some of the world’s most recognized hotel properties and brands. For more information, please visit www.vocsys.com.

About The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas
The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas offers a distinctive blend of resort and villa-style living, with upscale home comforts. The 26-acre AAA Four Diamond resort features 1,021 studio and one–bedroom villas with Westin’s Heavenly Bed®, separate shower and whirlpool tub, flat-screen HD TV, washer/dryer, full kitchen/kitchenettes and Internet access. In addition to three restaurants & bars, the resort offers poolside barbeque grills and two general stores with deli. Other highlights include six outdoor pools, the award-winning Spa Helani, a Heavenly Spa by Westin™; Westin Kids Club; Westin Workout®; Hawaiian activities; beach fun such as stand-up paddle and complimentary shuttle service to historic Lahaina Town. Outdoor adventures such as whale watching, hiking, horseback riding and championship golfing are easily accessible. To learn more, visit www.westinkaanapali.com or follow at WestinKorVillas.  
 
About Westin Hotels & Resorts
Westin Hotels & Resorts offers innovative programs that transform every aspect of a stay into a revitalizing experience. All Westin signature services – like the Heavenly Bed, delicious SuperFoods and WestinWORKOUT studio – have been designed with the guests’ well-being in mind. Westin hotels, with more than 190 hotels and resorts in nearly 40 countries and territories, is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,134 properties in nearly 100 countries and 171,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and ElementSM. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com

(Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results and events will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.).  The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

For more information, contact:

Brad Kesel
President
VOC Systems, Inc.
Tel: +1 404.661.6749
bkesel@vocsys.com
 
For media inquiries, contact:
Andrea Roland
Plan A PR & Marketing, Inc.
Tel: +1.407.905.0608
andrea@planapr.com

 

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