In today’s day and age, hotels struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition and to keep up with evolving consumer expectations. The consumer environment is constantly raising the bar as your guests compare their experience with your hotel to every other service experience they have. Your booking process may be measured against e-commerce sites like Wayfair or Amazon. Your front desk experience will be judged next to retailers like the Apple Store. Your response to service requests (or service recovery) might be compared to a guest’s recent experience with Uber or Google Express.
This is why one of the critical elements that make or break a hotel’s guest experience is its staff, and that staff’s ability and willingness to go the extra mile for your guests. The right employee interaction at the right touchpoint in a guest’s stay can greatly increase the chances of a repeat booking. But, if your guests don’t get what they need or expect from your brand, they’ll go elsewhere.
The problem is, there is no magic formula for putting the right person in the right place at the right time. Hotel employees are often busy and stretched thin. Additionally, hotel executives are sometimes so focused on the KPIs that they don’t take the proper steps to keep employees tightly tied into company culture and inspired to do great work.
Nevertheless, the talented people you attract, develop and retain are those who will make your customers choose your brand, return to your hotel, and support your business. This is a mission critical objective for every hotel.
Here are some steps you can take within your organization to keep your employees excited about engaging with your customers and empower them with the right tools to deliver that perfect guest experience.
1. Foster and reward a culture of learning
Training and learning should be an ongoing process at every hotel. All staff members must have the comfort level to not only perform their jobs well, but the confidence to be proactive and creative. For example, staff can’t just be aware of and comfortable with the protocol for managing guest complaints. They also need to feel empowered to go above and beyond to deliver that personal touch that will make an unhappy guest feel that their needs and wants are of utmost importance to your hotel.
2. Cultivate a unified team
A strong sense of teamwork and unity is especially important in hospitality where all roles, from front desk to housekeeping, need to coordinate with each other. Try to be aware of your team’s chemistry and boost interaction with non-work activities that build relationships and a sense of belonging. Encourage open communication and problem solving as a team. Let staff tell their own stories about how they dealt with a tricky situation, their concerns and suggestions, or a rewarding moment.
3. Share — and celebrate — the numbers
Include your staff in how the business is doing, and how their collective performance is contributing. Keeping employees informed by sharing KPIs like Net Promoter Score (NPS) helps to increase their sense of ownership and breeds trust. You should also set goals and celebrate with your team when those goals are achieved or when other positive events occur. One example is to read guest reviews on a regular basis and congratulate team members who are called out for exemplary service. Be open about areas in which there’s room for improvement too, and invite suggestions from your staff on how to improve them.
4. Show them the money!
Most employees want to be a part of something meaningful so it’s also important to ensure they know how their specific role contributes to your business’ performance and success. Create accountability by setting expectations and measuring individual performance. Expect excellence from your staff and give them recognition when they are performing well so they’ll be more inclined to keep doing it. Employees that strive for high performance are innovative. Encourage this; employee innovation not only improves processes but is great for staff morale and sense of achievement too.
5. Give them the right tools
In an increasingly technology-driven environment, building a highly engaged, innovative hotel staff only goes so far. Guests want their experience to be fast and seamless, and they want to communicate on their terms. Think about trying to race a car. You can have the best driver and pit crew on the planet, but if their tools and equipment are outdated, your team isn’t going to win the race against the latest and greatest. In the hotel world, this might mean you’re setting your staff to deliver a less than exemplary experience if guests can only connect with them via telephone. If you aren’t able to communicate with them through the channel they prefer, be it call, text, chat, or Twitter, they’ll ultimately decide to interact with a brand that does. Providing your staff with the right engagement tools doesn’t just help them exceed guest expectations — it also sets employees up for success, keeping them excited about delivering industry-leading service.
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