Hotel Online  Special Report

Are Your Guests Expecting Mediocrity with
Your Hospitality Services? 
Move Your Level of Excellence to the Remarkable


By John Hendrie, December 2004

“Obsolete in your prime?  The new Paradigm for Hospitality”

Mick Jaggar really was right over forty years ago, when he trebled, “I can’t get no Satisfaction”.  And, even the satisfaction he might have received, had little value.

Consumers are no better off now.  The mediocrity anticipated with products and services has created a new depth of cynicism and distrust across retail establishments, and this includes Hospitality operations. 

To thrive and succeed we must better engage the Guest, gain their loyalty and exceed their hopes. Our passion must be seen in a new context – the commitment to transcend expectations. In order to transform your business, a leap is required from merely doing the brand to being the brand. Your level of excellence needs to move to the remarkable, the sublime.  We talk about the WOW which successful businesses project.  How did they get there?

It begins with a paradigm shift in philosophy, your operations, and your involvement.  As you begin to better understand the market, always tumultuous and changing, examples abound of failure to make a statement and then deliver beyond what is expected.  You cannot remain static.  Success begins with goals and measurement, evaluation, and action.  You simply have no idea about your performance unless you have standards which are quantifiable. These may be SOP’s, Quality Programs, Customer Satisfaction mechanisms. Performance delivery is validated by your guests, but, this is only a yardstick, for it is historical data, but still actionable. Understand that you need to create that personal relationship with your Guest, where they trust you and share their hopes, which then becomes part of your strategic performance equation.

Business success results with your response, your innovation, and your credo to deliver beyond the merely possible. Do all your employee nametags identify them as a member of Guest Services.  That is the name of the game, not whether they work in Housekeeping or the Front Desk.  And, you have to be engaged. Many of us have lost that touch, stuck behind the desk, answering E-mails, returning calls.  We forget who really pays our salaries.  When was the last time you personally escorted a guest to his/her room? When was the last time you graciously thanked a guest for their patronage, beyond the banal gesture. Another idea.  Remove your automated telephone system.  Have a call answered in two rings, with a live voice, saying, “Good day.  The XYZ Company.  This is Stephanie speaking.  How may I be of service?”  Maybe a little retro, but this sets the bar, and exceeds expectations.

If you exceed the hopes of your guests, which have now been recognized and measured, you must then turn them into loyal partners, understanding that it is far easier to retain a current guest than solicit new Guests.  Is it the experience which differentiates and makes us distinct and unique in the marketplace?  Absolutely, and we are in the experience business, by the way.  Andre’ Balazs, featured in the New York Times Travel Section on December 12, 2004, offered this apt description.  “’Hotelier’ captures everything I understand the responsibilities of the business to be, which is to be a Host, a Proprietor and the one who takes care of every aspect of the experience.”  Mr. Balazs gets it!

We cannot afford to become obsolete in our prime by not recognizing that the paradigm has dramatically moved.  We see the current Hospitality status in the service we receive in restaurants, the offhand manner in which guests are treated in lodgings, the perfunctory attention (if any) which we receive in shops and attractions.  Daily, we experience an order which is incomplete or wrong, the lack of eye contact and sincerity, and usually no thanks for our business.  Yet, we bear that Standard for Hospitality Excellence in Service and Products. 

All segments of the industry can accomplish this feat.  I would like to start with McDonald’s, only because of their size and societal impact.  Our expectations would be that it is convenient, fast, and some “fuel” at best.  But, McDonalds is indicative of how such a shift can transpire in a corporate behemoth.  The Consumer knew what to expect and settled for that product.  Yet, McDonalds’s began a significant transformation in their menu, stepped up their product, and astounded their customers, as they better emphasized more quality food products. Maybe not a WOW, but certainly a “whoa”. 

On the other side of the spectrum are many of the smaller Inns and B&B’s, who tout that personal attention we all usually welcome.  It is not quite returning home, but it may be close for some, and probably better. 

Niche lodgings, like Kimpton Hotels, have also established themselves firmly in the vanguard of exceeding hopes and creating loyalty. 

Some of the Casual Dining Companies, in listening to their Customers, are now moving into “Curb side Service”. Herein lies a paradigm shift in progress. Our expectation, as Consumers, would be that this is more convenient, rather than entering the establishment and sitting at a table.  Our expectations would be met if the French Fries were hot. And, our hopes would be “blown out of the water” when they learn to WOW us with the presentation, perhaps the packaging and most reliably, the service there at the curb.  At a wonderful operation in the Pocono Mountains, PA, The Meadowbrook Inn, they addressed me by name throughout the splendid dinner I had.  The attention was memorable, which, of course, was the intention. The engagement was successful; it is wonderful to have name recognition.  You feel very good!

Now, if you invest in this new paradigm, you have something to market to the Consumer, your potential Guest.  Tell them your story, whet their appetite and curiosity. Be passionate! You are different and distinct from others.  Make the leap, lead the charge, deliver way beyond the expectation, frame the experience, and watch your revenue stream grow. 

By John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.

Also See: 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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