Your Door - the Value of Customer Service
|By John R. Hendrie
Destination Marketing Organizations are tasked to promote their area and their Hospitality Community and to encourage Visitors to travel to their specific venues. An enormous amount of time and money is expended to frame the anticipated experience for that Visitor – the web site is filled with visions of pleasure, excitement and incentives; glossy publications tout the adventure, stimulating all the senses; and, the airwaves are abuzz with the care and attention the Visitor will receive wherever the choose to stay, dine, play and shop.
Customer Service and quality have become the bywords for success in any industry, yet, we in the Destination business often forget that the Visitor Experience requires all the facets of the community to be Ambassadors, not just the Hospitality enterprises. The sum of the experience is only as good as the performance of all those components. Major hotels often miss this point. Although they might have a wonderful operation, their guests do venture into the community, and they will forget that memorable hotel stay, if they encounter rudeness, unclean facilities, poor behavior and inattention.
The flavor of the Visitor Experience actually begins at the point of entry into the Destination area, which is typically by air or automobile. Flying nowadays is about as nerve wracking and enervating as ever, so the Visitor arrives in a frenzied or numbed state. They follow the human sweep from the gate through the concourse and finally past the security egress into the terminal, where they decide upon car rental, bus or cab to their ultimate destination, typically, a hotel.
This is really the first opportunity to locally establish the flavor and begin to influence the Visitor Experience. Car Rental companies are usually good Partners, dispensing information and sound directions, and most of the companies also require in depth Customer Service skills.
Taxi cab drivers, however, often provide that vital First Impression to the Visitor, who, for a period of time, is held captive. Even a cab can have ambiance: cleanliness, condition of the upholstery, music, aroma. And, the driver sets the tone – how the visitor is greeted, conversation, both genial and informative, courtesy, and dispatch of the ride. The last thing you want addressed is the latest murder, malfeasance in City Hall, or the “underbelly”, which every destination does have. Many do need to be trained to accentuate the positive. This is a superb opportunity, or not, to establish the Visitor relationship, which needs to be continually fulfilled throughout the visit. Courtesy lorries to the specific hotels also provides the chance to demonstrate superb customer service – how you are greeted upon embarkation, assistance with luggage, the opportunity to point out places of interest, recitation of Destination activities, etc.
Arrival to a Destination by private automobile can be smooth or disconcerting, dependent upon a strong sense of direction by the Visitor and excellent signage. Many times, though, the arrival mechanics do require assistance from a local service station or convenience store, a policeman or even the citizen. The entire community must be brought into the Customer Service value system of the Destination, as reflected by a powerful and persuasive marketing campaign.
All components of a Destination community need to be in partnership with the DMO. Several months ago, I participated in a meeting, hosted by the CVB of a major New England city. The meeting was composed of Hospitality businesses, police, media, the Mayor’s Office, arena management, parking lot owners and others, as they reviewed the upcoming month of activities and conventions for the city. The dialogue was open, anticipating problems, planning for emergencies, identifying accountabilities. It was an impressive Roundtable, directed to providing the highest level of satisfaction for their Visitors’ Experience. The CVB has embraced Quality Assurance and extensive Customer Service to elevate their Brand.
There are powerful Customer Service programs available, deliverable by the Internet, DVD’s, CD’s, or in person. Technology improvements have made these programs accessible and inexpensive. They address not only the Hospitality Front Line positions but also the infrastructure within a community.
Customer Service is not rocket science. However, a good on-going
program emphasizes proper behaviors and skills, regarding our reception,
how we listen, how we resolve problems and how we close the visitor “transaction”.
It is a group effort, and the benefits can be made quite obvious for everyone,
particularly if tourism is the major economic engine for a Destination
locale, region or even state. Successful Destinations will be differentiated
by a high level of service and quality delivery. And, the Visitor
Experience will be memorable, based upon the enthusiastic participation
of the entire community. Give them the skills, empower them with information,
enlist their good sense and courtesy! We all are Ambassadors!
This is how your Destination shall be measured, and this does begin with
a strategic commitment to Customer Service.
About the Author: John Hendrie believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal for the memorable Visitor Experience. Contact him at www.hospitalityperformance.com with your comments.
John R. Hendrie, CEO
Hospitality Performance, Inc.
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