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Lessons From the Field™

Communications 101 – How to effectively use the telephone

by Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
March 28, 2011

The title of this short article might sound a bit fundamental, but we have all learned the value of the basics.   Little things do make a difference... actually, they can be the difference in achieving success or not.

In hotels and many hospitality businesses, we were taught by almost everyone that the best way to make a positive impression in phone communication was a courteous, friendly voice answering the call promptly (within three rings).  With the changes in technology the past ten years, a growing number of hotels have embraced the automatic answering device.  When one listens to these machines, you realize you can push one number for sales, another for accounting, another for the restaurant, another for guest information and so on.  Now from my professional and personal perspective, I recognize that these might have certain efficiencies built into them and they do work – at times.  I know from my experiences in communicating with the phone company, the cable company, banks and many other “service” organizations that too many of these automatic responses are unclear and that one has to repeat the request several times.  I know my level of frustration when I find myself wanting to raise my voice to the machine, which of course has no value to anyone.

Hospitality is based on high touch and personal interaction.  I encourage anyone reading this to consider some of the following ideas relating to telephone communications in hotels and hospitality businesses:
  1. Whenever possible, have a trained, live person answering the phones.  We all know of exceptional companies of all sizes that have one outstanding person who answers calls and they are  a real pleasure to speak with.  When was the last time you called your hotel or hospitality business?  What was that experience like?
  2. Voice Mail – this can be a positive way to collect messages.  A recommendation is to consider changing your personalized message twice a week.  It keeps your message fresh, it causes you to reflect on what you are communicating and it does show attention to detail.
  3. Wake up calls – these used to be made by live people, and there were bottlenecks at peak hours. The options today include daily weather updates, a pleasant voice reminding guests of breakfast options and other personalized options.  They also include the loud repeating BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ message.  I know which I'd prefer.  What happens at your hotel?

Hospitality Tip of the Week®: 

“It is the little things that can make a huge difference, and the phone is a central communicating center that is used by literally every guest every day.  At your next meeting (and every week thereafter), include attention to the high touch, “little things” that should be the heart of your hospitality business.

KEYS TO SUCCESS  is the umbrella title for my 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™   and Principles for Success.

Don't forget the special values being offered to industry professionals available on annual membership at  

Feel free to share an idea for a column at [email protected]  anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium ( of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today. is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them [email protected].   Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
[email protected]

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Also See: Principles of Success: Fine Tuning Your Hospitality Business Strategies for A Measurable Competitive Advantage - Part 2 / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Principles of Success: Fine tuning Your Hospitality Business Strategies for A Measurable Competitive Advantage - Part 1 / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Hotels Were More Interesting than Selling Insurance: An Unexpected Career; A Professional and Personal Tribute to Neil Salerno, CHME CHA / Dr. John Hogan and Howard Feiertag / March 2011

Principles of Success: Evaluate Your Hospitality Business Strategies to Create a Real and Measurable Competitive Advantage / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Sales Blitzes: A Look At the Benefits of Team Efforts / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Principles for Success: No Nonsense Benchmarking for Hotels and Hospitality Businesses / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Principles for Success: What we have here is a FAILURE to COMMUNICATE! / Dr. John Hogan / February 2011

Making This New Year's Hospitality Resolutions Last - Part 3; Real and Practical Action Steps #13-28 / Dr. John Hogan / February 2011

Making This New Year's Hospitality Resolutions: Real and Practical - Sales Action Steps #1-12 / Dr. John Hogan / January 2011

Making New Year's Hospitality Resolutions Real and Practical; A “Fresh Air- New Ideas” Perspective / Dr. John Hogan / January 2011

Keys to Success: Be Aware of and Work with the Law; Do Not be Afraid of it / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Keys to Success: Make Your Hotel More Profitable and Successful – 2011 is the critical time to invest in Your Talent and Your Team / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Keys to Success: A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry; 13 Best Practices for Hospitality Training Managers & Directors / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Hospitality Conversations – Looking Ahead! / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

Learning from The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

Five Considerations in Hiring a Hospitality Consultant; Understanding the Qualifications for Effective Hospitality Consultants / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

5 Reasons Using A Qualified Consultant Could Make a Huge Difference in Your Hospitality Business / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Half Luck and Half Brains - Kemmons Wilson's 20 Steps for Success / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Ten Quotes Addressing the Topic of SERVICE / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Hospitality Conversations - Understanding the Developing Perspectives in Quality Assurance (Part 2 of 2) / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Hospitality Conversations – Understanding the Developing Perspectives in Quality Assurance Part 1 of 2 / Dr John Hogan

Hospitality Conversations: Examining the Learning Options Available in the Hospitality Field / Dr John Hogan / July 2010
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