By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
Can a hotel ever truly achieve flawless performance? And, if so, how would one measure this accomplishment?
These questions were on my mind when I was invited as a guest for a quality assurance meeting held at the Boston Harbor Hotel (BHH) in mid-March. The purpose of this meeting is simple – to examine every aspect of the property’s product and service offering in pursuit of perfection.
Being a Forbes Travel Guide five-star property borders on impossible. Think for a moment about your own hotel with hundreds of check-ins and check-outs daily, housekeeping, dining, pool, spa, fitness center, reservations center, front desk, concierge and valet interactions. Now take each guest interaction, rating it as either a yes or a no in achieving that specific standard.
While the goal is always perfect, Forbes Travel Guide holds hotels to exceptionally high standards of performance and service. This is not some public high school where it seems as everyone nowadays gets an ‘A’ grade just for showing up. It’s hard to achieve this score without extreme dedication.
An Example of Exactness
Responding to a guest inquiry about a restaurant for dinner outside of the host hotel, the concierge proposes three options, going into great detail on only two of the three of his recommendations. His presentation is both eloquent and insightful. You can almost taste the dishes described, and he also offers to make the reservations. The standard was not met, resulting in a No! He did not provide adequate detail on the third option. One may argue that he deserved at least a two-out-of-three rating. Sorry, but Forbes Travel Guide is not all that tolerant of half measures. The road to five-star is painstaking, paved with some tough lessons.
Teamwork to Make It Work
BHH’s standards committee is split into seven areas of responsibility, an example being a cluster of fitness, guestrooms and public areas. Each of these areas has one (or two) e-comm members as well as managers working in those areas.
The entire standards committee meets weekly. Discussions then focus on the delivery of quality. In-house comment cards (both physical and electronic), letters from guests, TripAdvisor comments are all tabled. Feedback and HR issues are also identified.
Committee members also evaluate each other’s areas. Each week, multiple inspections are made, ranging from room cleanliness and telephone responses to arrival and departure audits. These were clustered into topics such as cleanliness, graciousness, elements of luxury and guest comfort. All inspections are each summarized onto daily issues sheets which outline the evaluator’s observations as well as a rating from 0-100%. On my visit, of the 20 issue sheets reviewed, there was one at 30%, one at 45%, one at 60%, lots of 80% and one at 90%.
At the weekly meeting, all of the daily issue sheets were read out loud by the person who did the inspection. There was no finger pointing, nor was there any blame being dished out. Rather, the entire assembly was interested in how to work towards the magical 100% for every aspect.
I’m not recommending that you attempt Forbes Travel Guide’s five-star status without extreme dedication. It’s the Everest of hoteldom, with only the finest of properties with a maniacal commitment to being the best that you can be. Moreover, once you achieve this pinnacle, there is no rest. The delivery of quality operates 24/7/365.
However, the lessons for all hoteliers are crystal clear. Service delivery is everyone’s responsibility, every day and all the time.
This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author.
Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.