Have Millennials Killed Room Service? And Is That a Good Thing?

By Thomas McKeown Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | July 29, 2018

You may not have noticed, but you are probably not as young as you think you are.  I had a friend tell me recently that she feels like she is still the gal she was in high school, footloose and care free. She is almost 80.

To some extent, if we are lucky, we all probably feel that way, like we are still the young fresh faces we were ten years ago. It is easy to forget that we are not necessarily the cool kids anymore. Ouch!

It may be painful, but this is a critical realization for professionals in our industry, who are focused on serving consumers, and providing them with experiences that will make them irrationally loyal to our brands. We talk about this a lot in our hotel: Who is our guest, and what are they looking for? For one, we are finding our guest is younger than we think she is (and as the trends go, she is probably getting younger).

We all have a stereotype of the "Business Traveler." He is a "Mad Men" sort of fellow, an airport road warrior checking in late with a crumpled suit and tie. But take a look at your midweek guest and ask yourself, is that today's business traveler? After taking a hard look at our guests, we found our Businessman is not a man. Just over half of our business travelers are women.

And travelers are younger than you might think. The Millennial Generation is not coming into the workforce. In many cases they are the work force.  Professionals in their 20s and 30s are the ones going on the road on behalf of their companies, making sales calls, meeting clients, prospecting new business, and staying at our hotels. Our midweek business guest is more likely to be wearing big, designer, over the ear headphones than penny loafers. And our weekend guests are no different.

Much (maybe too much) has been written about the changes that Millennials have brought us, good and bad, and how their generation has disrupted familiar mainstays like newspapers, shopping malls, taxis and even hotels. Traditional room service may also be on that list – but I am here to tell you that is a good thing.

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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.