Hotel management and staff can get excited about creating an extraordinary guest experience. Brainstorming should be passionate and full of creativity, without limits.
Obviously actual actions should be within the confines of hotel policy, but ideas themselves should never be confined, and a hotel should have a reasonably flexible atmosphere that allows for random acts of kindness and extraordinary service.
What Not to Do
At least some decisions should be allowed to be spontaneous.
The news relayed one story about a McDonald’s employee who was fired because she spent her own money to buy firefighters dinner during her shift. This minimum wage worker was so moved by these men who had put their lives on the line, fighting a fire through many hours of the night, that she bought them dinner, on her minimum wage salary, yet because this was against corporate policy, she lost her job.
Don’t let this sort of bureaucracy into your establishment. It has no place in the hospitality business.
In another news story, a Walmart employee was fired for approving a price match guarantee, as per store policy. Whatever small dollar figure these companies believe they saved by sticking to their guns, the cost in negative publicity must have been one hundred times worse.
Encourage Spontaneity and Flexibility
At the other end of the spectrum, good news travels fast, and a simple kindness can pay off for years to come in reputation, word of mouth and repeat business.
Whenever possible, give lower-level staff the authority to approve small actions on their own, without having to call a manager. If they make a mistake doing something nice for a customer or guest, let it go.
Examples of Excellence
One bell boy in a sterile, 5-star Hong Kong resort, handed out funny-faced lollypops to a group of tired, frustrated guests from all different nationalities, waiting in the lobby. He made a tasteful joke and got a few smiles. They were at ease. They were willing to wait just a little bit longer. They felt they had come to the right place.
In a New York City hotel, a reservations clerk noticed that a woman was anxiously waiting for someone in the lobby, tired, checking her watch, trying someone on her cell phone. The clerk walked over, pulled a single flower from an arrangement in the lobby, and handed it to the woman, saying “It won’t be long now.” It wasn’t long, and the woman blogged about the experience, until it went viral.
Tangible gifts are not requisite. A simple compliment, tip about the best local bakery, or a reminder about the availability of extra blankets on a cold winter night, can all be immensely appreciated. Unsolicited thoughtfulness is worth more than gold.
- Smile, deeply, richly.
- Eschew “elevator music” in favor of Vivaldi.
- Offer beverages in the lobby, a punch bowl perhaps, with floating citrus slices.
- Replace generic questions such as “May I help you,” with questions such as “Are you hungry this evening?”
- Dim the lighting to create just the right mood.
- Sprinkle rose petals on a bed or bath.
- Use soft tabletop waterfalls and mild aromatherapy to create tranquility.These are only a few of the many ideas that can get a company thinking about what can be done to take the guest experience from ordinary to extraordinary.