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Through the eyes of the Hotel Butler: Functional Suggestions vs. Questions

by Osvaldo Torres Cruz,
April 2011

It has been proved that the interaction with the guest during his stay in the Hotel positively rebounds in achieving his final satisfaction and hence his loyalty to the Hotel.

Setting up bonds and relationships with the guest is one of the key tools used in the Hotel Business of Experience, creating situations to generate moments of truth which in turn become moments of opportunity not only to follow-up the guest's satisfaction for the services received, but also to obtain permission information from the guest, i.e. data related to his preferences and behaviors. However, these bonds cannot always be established in the desired manner so that alternatives should be sought after, in order to obtain the important information they supply.

However, in many occasions, the result of these interactions is unfortunately not as good as expected and the effect is absolutely the opposite, as the guest may feel overwhelmed and pressed by these interactions, specially if they come loaded with thousands of questions and a variety of comments, or if there are produced in the less suitable time, and even worse, if the information that the guest provides is not used in pursuit of his welfare.

I recall when a guest commented to me about a Hotel he would never chose again, least recommend, as he felt overwhelmed by the services staff  asking him so many times  if they could help him or if everything was going well.

However, as I have already stated, in view of the usefulness of receiving answers to these questions, the big challenge is to obtain the data in the easiest way for the hotelier and the most timely and functional for the guest, since the guest has no obligation to give us an answer. How many times have we coded our guest as little communicative or not accessible without wondering whether we are using the best strategy to approach him?

I would like to share with you a new strategy I have started to use to turn this kind of guests into allies: functional suggestions.

Functional suggestions are no more than data offered to the guest on a given topic or determined aspect, thereby creating a value so as we can most probably obtain personal information from the guest on the suggested subject or aspect. The functional suggestions have two fundamental angles: timing and context

Timing only means knowing how to use a functional suggestion in the most appropriate moment so that it renders the utmost utilitarian and functional character, while the context focuses on determining what type of suggestions we need to apply given the existing circumstances and profile of the guest.

Let us use one example:

We need to know what the guest preferences for beverages are, given that in case of deciding to offer him some free compensation or benefit, the preferred kind of drink can be offered, thus generating a greater emotional and differential value. The question that we want to avoid is:

What kind of drink do you prefer?

Let us see the best moment or context in which we could use the following functional suggestions:
  • When rooming the guest, just at the time of pointing the frigo-bar, we might suggest domestic or Hotel-branded drinks.
  • When explaining or showing him where the Hotel restaurants are located, suggest the domestic or Hotel-branded drinks.
  • When watching the guest ready to leave the Hotel for an outside tour or visit, if his intention is to have lunch or dinner, we might recommend tasting some domestic or specific drink or beverage.
Faced to these suggestions the guest will most probably talk about his preferences, and even better, he surely will appreciate the supplied information.

Once you have obtained this data, it has to be stored and shared with every Hotel related area, so as we will be able to foresee the guest needs. For instance, on his arrival at the Hotel restaurant and after sitting down at his table, the maître or waiter offers or recommends to the guest the type of beverage of his choice, without having to ask him again about it. The guest will be amazed by the detail and even better he will feel differentiated and valued.

The guest´s  experience maker, whoever he might be, must have the adequate vision to detect what is the kind of functional suggestion to use in accordance with the profile of the guest he is assisting, as well as when and how to implement it.

Summarizing, we can say that functional suggestions are of a new type as they are focused on providing the guest with valuable data, thus stimulating him to supply us with priceless information on himself. In that way an important exchange of informative values will be established.

Osvaldo Torres Cruz
Hotel Butler
[email protected]


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Also See: Through the eyes of the Hotel Butler: Recovering increased guest satisfaction with the least sacrifice of the Hotel. / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / March 2011

Through the eyes of a Hotel Butler:Yes, Mr. Butler: I let you get into my hippocampus / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / February 2011

Through the eyes of a Hotel Butler: The emotional factor in the Hospitability Industry / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / December 2010

Hotel Butler Service: To Have or Not to Have? / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / July 2010

The Active Role of the Butler in Today's Hotel Industry / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / July 2008

Through the Eyes of a Hotel Butler: Transforming Displeased Guests into Satisfied Ones / Osvaldo Torres Cruz / September 2009

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