The Latest Technology is GREAT! But it's Still the PEOPLE that Matter!

By Monika D'Agostino Chief Consultative Sales Officer, Consultative Sales Academy | November 04, 2012

Technology is all well and good, but what if the hotel experience doesn't match expectations?

Some websites are really sharp, but then you arrive at the hotel to discover that WiFi only works in the business center, the phone works but it takes forever to get somebody to pick it up and your front desk person doesn't pay attention when checking you in.

In today's business and personal environment we often forget that it is human beings who are experiencing our services. There are so many articles, websites, resources that help companies promote and market their services through technology. We hear all the time - Do you have an app for that? But there's no app to replace customer service in human interaction.

We all agree that it's really important to have an on-line presence, to market products and services in our virtual world and to be ever present and on top of Google searches, and to actively maintain and manage our website presence. But the customer experience doesn't stop after you hit the "Buy" or "Book" button. It's actually where it begins...

There is nothing more annoying than websites that load slowly, which serve as vanity pieces rather than resources. But it's always refreshing when websites are "smart" and easy to navigate. Especially when it comes to booking hotel rooms or airfares we all want it to be fast, easy and cheap. But, cheap can come with a high price when we don't do our fact checking prior to our trip.

We might end up with a hotel that is next to a highway rather than a quiet room where we can get a good night's sleep before an important business meeting. Yes, the location could be convenient, but it also needs to meet our needs.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.