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How Do You Define and Deliver a Quality Experience?
By John Hendrie
Most hospitality businesses use the term “quality” somewhere in their marketing, some erroneously. What exactly does the word mean? Imagine that flip chart exercise. One would compile multiple responses, as management tried to define “quality”. The same would be said for their staff, and, just as importantly, the guest. We all have different perspectives and definitions.
Hospitality invites a quality experience, but, if expectations (the guest’s definitions) are not met, you have a disappointed guest, reduced revenue, unhappy employees and a deteriorating reputation. So, what is the value of quality: the concept, the experience and reward, and how does this relate to your business?
The Basics: Quality is a process. There are Performance Standards created, communicated and implemented. The standards are reviewed constantly to stress continual improvement. Success stories are heralded. Problem areas are immediately addressed. Steady “feedback” is required. This is not a one day exercise; it is ongoing. Quality must become integral to your business performance.
The Bottom Line: Does your definition of quality translate to the guest’s expectations? Hospitality operations are boldly diverse. We present to the consumer various locations, architecture, ambiance, price, amenity, and activity. When they make a reservation – book a room, a table, or purchase a ticket – the guest has an expectation. Now, we must deliver and not create a disconnect, for we may be at cross purposes with our guest and their concept of quality.
The Assignment: How do we create this “common ground” to meet these expectations and avoid the false steps in fully serving our guest? The quality process begins with recognized, reasonable hospitality performance standards. Really, ALL parties understand cleanliness. The environment you represent must be clean and not assault the five senses. We need to feel safe and secure. We require certain “creature comforts”. We look for our needs to be attended with some courtesy, accuracy, speed and pleasant attitude. Finally, we expect the facility to present an acceptable appearance/condition. These elements are how you will be judged by your guest.
They also represent the benchmarks for a memorable quality experience or not. These performance standards are the foundation, and the guest needs to know you are serious and sincere. Particularly for those destinations which are family oriented, recognize that the greatest influence on where the family will stay, dine and recreate is the Mother, and she holds quality standards dearly.
The Report Card: The success of a process needs to be measured – a performance evaluation. Where do you rate with these hospitality standards? Do you deliver, and, just as importantly, does your staff? Your quality message must be communicated daily. Your staff must abide by your message. Clear guidelines need to be in place, practiced and assessed. Attention to detail and meeting the guest’s needs are the mantra.
There are many means to evaluate your performance: the personal relationship you have with your guests; in-house mechanisms, like Comment Cards; Mystery Shop Services; Assessment Companies; and formal Guest Satisfaction Systems. They are all meaningful, some far more than others, particularly in this day and age where your guests are "wired".
In Summary: The guest experience all begins with expectations, and success is built upon how well you deliver your product/service in relation to those expectations. Performance Standards are the hospitality norm, and they “frame” the experience. Your adherence to these standards has definite value in the marketplace, particularly if your efforts have been validated, designating your operation a quality destination. You also have at hand mechanisms to continually improve your performance, for guest satisfaction “feedback” is critical and actually creates customer loyalty opportunities.
Does quality have value? Absolutely! It is the bedrock of our industry. Quality establishes your reputation, becomes your competitive edge, and results in increased revenue. Let’s restore that consumer confidence!
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About LRA Worldwide, Inc:
LRA Worldwide is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability.
In LRA's 25-year history, we have grown from a provider of customized quality assurance evaluation programs for the hospitality industry, to a leading CEM consulting company offering a variety of client solutions. The evolution has been driven by our clients asking us one question - "How do we get better?" In response, we have built a range of performance measurement, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so. Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, helping clients deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit us at www.LRAworldwide.com.
The author believes that Remarkable Service is the portal to the
Memorable Customer Experience. Seek solutions at:
John R. Hendrie
Hospitality Performance, Inc.
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