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Are You Ignoring the Single Most Important Factor in Guests’ Enjoyment? ehotelier’s Week in Review
Nov 09, 12 | 12:08 am
By Anne Edwards, Editor in Chief, ehotelier
For a clear and simple breakdown of the age-old questions ‘What do guests really want?’ and ‘What is turning guests off at my hotel?’ go to 2012 Traveller Rants & Raves: What Guests Love About Your Hotel & What They Complain About. The group that put the study together, TrustYou, analysed one million comments from 200 sites around the world, across 23 languages – it is a fascinating insight into what hotels are doing well and the areas in which they could do better.
It needs to be said that 81% of the reviews analysed were positive, with friendly, professional service coming out on top of the list of raves at 103 440 mentions. In our current economic climate, I would not have been surprised to see expensive/overpriced room at the top of the rant list, but no, the number one complaint was unprofessional/incompetent service. In other words, the one thing that guests loved and hated most at hotels was the service. I know I probably shouldn’t be surprised. Here at ehotelier, the single subject that gets written about the most is service, but what baffles me is that, amidst the myriad of uncontrollable factors that hoteliers deal with every day, many are still neglecting to train and re-train their staff in how to provide good service – something completely within their control. Why do we so often ignore the very thing that is most important to our business?
Clearly, great service begins with selecting the right staff. For in-depth advice on the questions to ask during an interview, see today’s article Recruit Your Way to the Top by John Boe. John points out the often uncomfortable truth that if you’re successful during the recruiting interview process, you’ll find that the staff member you chose is self-motivated, coachable and eager to train. On the other hand, if you’re recruiting out of desperation because your staff members are failing left and right and you need another warm body, you’ll experience low morale, high turnover and find yourself constantly in the training mode. John concentrates mostly on recruiting sales staff in this article which, in reality, is every member of your hotel team from the front desk to the housekeepers. He finishes with a quote I love – “If you want to win the high-jump event at the track meet, you need to find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can jump one foot.”
If you want a good place to start with staff training, look no further than The Motivation Doctor’s Two Ways to Manage Difficult Staff. In this article, Alan talks about two of the most important factors in creating an environment in which staff can thrive; firstly, spending some quality time with them and secondly, concentrating on what they do well as opposed to what they don’t do well. You may think that you don’t have time to get to know your staff members a bit better but the time it will save you later on, when you’re sorting out difficulties, makes it well worth it. As to concentrating on what they do well – you may say that you need to focus on the problems in order to solve them, however, research points to the exact opposite – if you focus on ‘good’ behaviour, you’ll get more of it and if you focus on ‘bad’ behaviour, you’ll get more of it.
Bryan K. Williams trains staff members in all areas of service and is a long time contributor to ehotelier. In his article this week Service Excellence: Four Lessons ALL Businesses Can Learn from a Five-Star Resort, Bryan focuses not on keeping up with the competition in terms of excellent service, but actually becoming the benchmark in everything you do. Being thankful, he says, is an important part of great service and he contrasts the Balinese culture of giving thanks often for such things as food, shelter, health and life with western culture who often view these things with a sense of entitlement. ‘Entitlement’, he says, ‘is a selfish characteristic because the focus is on yourself. It is difficult to be focussed on yourself AND give engaging service to others at the same time. So, regularly ask yourself ‘What am I thankful for?’ and ‘What would life be like if I didn’t have those things?’
Expecting the best in service from your staff need not be an unrealistic goal. You can begin to have a more aware staff today. For a simple training exercise, print out Bryan’s back articles (listed below), divide your staff into groups of two or three and have each group present an article to the others. I guarantee you will have some ‘aha!’ moments and a greatly enlightened staff at the end of it.
About Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards combines her love of language, travel, and different cultures as Editor in Chief of ehotelier.com. Prior to this position, Anne lectured in Cross Cultural Studies at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia and currently consults to the Australian Federal Government on subjects such as Leadership and Building Productive Partnerships. Anne has travelled and worked internationally for twelve years, holding various positions in the field of education, most notably as linguistic advisor to the Crown Princess of Thailand for two years where she sampled some of the best hotels in the world. Her love for travel spans the freedom of wandering on a shoe-string budget to the finest standards of service in world-class properties. As Editor in Chief of one of the largest hotel news sites in the world, Anne has a birds-eye view of what is happening in the industry internationally.
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