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Why Should Customers Do Business With Your Hotel?
By feature writer Brett Patten
And even more importantly, why should they give their trust and loyalty to your business?
What makes your hotel organization or business brand so special from all the other hotels in the marketplace? Before answering this question, I would like you to evaluate these three examples before you respond.
Ninety percent of the time when this question is presented to the hotel industry, one of the default responses is as follows: “We are passionate about the hospitality or hotel business and/or...” A couple things here with that response -- it may not be an ideal one. First, the pack mentality response doesn't differentiate you from your competitors or to your customers. Secondly, the position of your statement resonates with your business, more than it does with your customer. Your business being "passionate" per se about your work, or some aspect of your business, is more about you and not really about the customer. Besides the fact your customers are assuming that everyone's passionate. It's just a matter of the direction of an enterprise’s passion and core fundamental principles that drive that passion, or business purpose. Is it more internally focused on creating business value, or is it more balanced around being externally focused on adding customer value through the total customer experience?
You may want to consider the non-tangible elements that make your business a passionate hospitality enterprise. Being passionate is a being, not a doing. For example, the Library Hotel Group in Manhattan is being the essence of a unique hospitality experience that is passionately committed to delivering service excellence to their guest.
Example: Why should I do business with your hotel? We are passionately committed to your happiness and ensuring exceptional guest experience during your time with us.
You can start to see and feel the difference in the positioning and the direction of significance in the statement towards the customer and their time? The enterprise actually takes responsibility for the customers’ experience of the business, and respects their time. You end up shifting your business from being in the hotel business to being in the people business, with a stronger opportunity for creating employee engagement with your customers.
In a recent JD Power customer satisfaction report, it stated that hotels had a significant increase in their customer satisfaction scores when there was a stronger engagement with multiple employees during the guest stay.
Physical good looks don't necessarily equate to, long-term customer loyalty attraction.
One of the more commonly used responses has to do with the physical aspects of the hotel, i.e., the hotel’s location, product offerings, amenities, etc. I call this the baseline hospitality industry syndrome response. The response usually goes something like this: “Well, we have the greatest location and the most beautiful hotel with the most incredible services and amenity offerings.” Here again the position of the statement is about the significance of what the hotel possesses purely on a physical level and very much “me me me” oriented, which again is internally focused on the brand or business value, with the intention for creating brand equity with their customer segment. Please keep this in mind when it comes to your competition. They can always equal and exceed all the physical attributes of your business. When you play the physical card, you basically put yourself into a commodity driven business position for competing for your customers. When you place your business in a commodity position, you lessen your chances of achieving and sustaining strong customer loyalty conversion, in addition to feeling that your business is competing on price for engagement with your customer segments.
The physical attributes of your business will only achieve some level of engagement with the business and will limit the conversion success rate if you haven't created some emotional connection that differentiates you from the competition as well as accentuates your values to your customers.
Example: Why should I do business with your hotel? We empathetically design and manage the hotel’s guest experience to ensure that a high level of service excellence is delivered, managed, and achieved with your expectations in mind, on every possible touching point of your stay.
Please tell me you just didn't say that.
The third most common response I hear is “we provide great customer service.” Doesn't everybody pretty much say that? Customer service has become so subjective in the 21st century. I actually feel it plus its competitive advantage relevance. Businesses seem to think that exceptional customer service is more focused around executing a high level of skill sets properly and effectively. I'm going to tell you that that only accounts for 25% of the game, and it doesn’t differentiate your level of customer service over your competitors. If you want to differentiate yourself on a customer service level, it's going to have to come through the role that each member plays in your organization that aligns to the total customer experience. It's more behavioral focused than skill set in achieving a strong connection that elevates your enterprise over your competitors.
Understanding the importance of the behavioral expectations around the customer experience during those moments of truth with your organization and your customers, as well as how it aligns to the service excellence culture of the enterprise that's intentionally being delivered to the guest, will ultimately have the strongest impact on your customers’ future preference, as well as the all-important advocacy, referrals and forgiveness factors which are so critical for sustaining strong top line growth as well as brand relevance.
Example: Why should I do business with your hotel? We are intuitively focused on our customers receiving a positive and memorable experience from our entire hotel staff that leaves them feeling good, connected, and empowered about themselves from their experience with the hotel.
Examples of just some of the businesses that have answered this question with a high degree of success are as follow; Starbucks, The Ritz-Carlton, Southwest airlines, Nordstrom's, Walt Disney, Whole Foods and one of my favorite, The Library Hotel group.
Okay ! Now it's your turn, please respond to the question. Why should customers do business with you? And even more importantly why should they give their trust and loyalty to your business as well?
About the author
For over thirty years, Brett Patten has worked in the hospitality industry. He spent those years accumulating invaluable insight, knowledge and experience through his various positions, and studies, from when he starting out has a front line employee at the age of 15, with a four-star hotel in the 1980s', to recently completing his education as an executive leadership and engagement coach. Brett's unique management style consistently transformed his work environments by focusing on his people and customers for creating a engaging hospitality experience which generated strong sales and operational performance results. In 2007, Brett launched Fire and Vine of Virginia Beach, a new world wood fire cuisine restaurant built on a hospitality business strategy process that he trademarked and now calls "five-star customer experience design." Within the first two years under Brett's strategic business approach, Fire and Vine was recognized nationally for its hospitality management, design elements, employee development, customer service excellence, culinary cuisine, and wine program.
Today, after spending the last 15 years researching, studying and developing customer experience design best practices and strategy implementation for the hospitality and tourism industries. Brett has created an innovative Hospitality Business leadership and management Program. Which aligns all the business disciplines and strategies through a customer experience design approach, for creating a customer driven brand connection, as well as elevating the engagement dynamics of the business culture for establishing positive customer loyalty and sustainable financial performance results through the generating of exceptional and memorable brand and customer experiences.
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