Hotel Online  Special Report

Moving the Guest Comment Card
from Paper to Paperless


By John R. Hendrie, March 2005

Hoteliers love paper documents – the touch, the feel, the weight.  Plus, you can save these documents – stow in your cabinets, store in your warehouses, file to your outer limits.  We have moved, however slightly, to the “paperless”, using electronics for our Financials, our Daily Reports, and our Payrolls.  Why, in Heavens name, have we not embraced technology to provide a “feedback mechanism” for Guest Satisfaction, especially those operations which cater to the business traveler and conventions / groups?  These folks are connected, and e-mail is their every day communication vehicle, while we wave down the Pony Express.

I recently returned from a trip to a major destination area, where I stayed at a prominent resort development atop a mountain range. The operation was upscale, serving the convention business, leisure and second homes owners.  The resort featured comfortable guest rooms and suites, wonderful amenities, including high speed internet access, and extensive facilities.  Yet, when I interviewed the General Manager, I had to weave my head around several thick piles of Comment Cards. When queried, he said he reads each one – a daunting task, shared by far too many managers.  When I pointed out the facile use of the Internet, which would provide the information he seeks, sorted and timely, he had no answer.  I had challenged the comfort zone!  Visiting two other destination resorts that same trip, I had the same response from Management. 

Comment Cards have always been suspect.  Once upon a time, they were our only means, beyond questioning the guest directly, to receive our Report Card on performance.  I always felt that they did not represent a good cross section of guests, but we clutched them to our chests.  I particularly liked the cards with no postage or pre-paid mailing.  I want to share my thoughts, but not for 37 cents. 

Everyone is now in the game – Starbucks, Subway, all segments of lodging, car dealers, and even my former female companions (a dicey exercise there).  Responses make us proud or depressed; we react accordingly to bring our performance into line, right?

It is time to move to the next plateau, the next frontier, and use technology for the following reasons:

  • Comment Cards simply do not provide a meaningful response about the Guest experience, because not everyone participates (usually only the disgruntled and the gruntled);
  • Internet Customer Satisfaction Surveys reach a broader, more representative and diverse audience, quickly, because the majority of your Guests are on-line.  The responses are timely, and they validate your relationship with the Guest and allow you to better mange the experience;
  • With a request for an e-mail address at registration, you begin to build a significant data base, which serves as an super marketing opportunity for your business, from Guest preferences to special announcements and deals;
  • Just because the Guest may be satisfied with one visit does not mean they will rebook.  But, now you have another opportunity – to build loyalty.  It is easier to retain an existing Guest than recruit a new one.
So, drop your quill, toss the parchment and get on-line to better manage the experience, frame the expectations, create real value, which you can then market! Plus, you have engaged the Guest, and now have a relationship.  That is what it is all about.
By John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.

Also See: 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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