Bad Staff Attitudes Account for More Complaints Than Quality of Product, from Big Hospitality UK

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Trade website, BigHospitality, recently posted a very interesting report comparing restaurant complaints over service with complaints over food quality.  The article is based on a report titled ‘Handle With Care’, produced by the Institute of Customer Service.  The reports argues that the way customers are treated by the restaurant employees is often more important than the food.

In fact, the top 3 complaints are ‘staff attitude’, ‘staff competence’, and ‘organizations not keeping promised’.

Check out the full article or the Handle With Care Report below.

Source:  BigHospitalityUK

Full Report for Purchase:  Institute of Customer Service

AAA Announces Changes to the Approval Requirements for Hotels


In the second half of 2012, AAA started implementing changes in how they score hotels who are candidates for 5 diamond status.  This was the first time they have made a change to their program since the year 2007.

The new AAA Hotel Rating Guidelines can be found here.  Click on the link halfway through the article to download the PDF.  If you skip to page 30 on the PDF file, you will see the new AAA Hospitality Standards for Five Diamond Hotels. 

Here are a few highlights that we have seen:

  1. It appears to be much harder to pass.  The old program had 391 possible points, the new program has only 345 possible points.  However, it appears the minimum needed to pass is still 268 points.  You used to need only 68.5 percent to pass, now you will need to score 77.7 percent.
  2. Many of the points that were removed were the easiest points.  You no longer get points for having 24 hour reservations, accurate pre-programed phones, or the ability to post miscellaneous charges to the guest room.  I would estimate that most hotels will lose about 15 to 20 points from their previous score because these standards were removed.
  3. The new scoring is a bit more subjective than the old scoring system.  Instead of ‘attendant addresses guest by name during closing’, the new standard is ‘attendant uses guest’s name as appropriate for the manner of the guest.’  Other standards include ‘attendant provides an appropriate introduction’ and ‘attendant extends an appropriate closing’.
  4. The last question in each section ‘Hospitality, Refinement, and/or Competency’ now can be scored anywhere from 3 points to minus 3 points.  If any employee provides poor service or gives incorrect information, you can now lose 6 points pretty easily.
  5. A few of the very hard to achieve standards have been eliminated.  For instance, room service no longer has the standard ‘there is additional evidence of personalized services’.

If you need help preparing for your audit, contact us.  The TrueGuest Service Experience Audit is the measurement and feedback tool you need to help you succeed.

Source:  AAA Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for Lodgings

TrueGuest Tips for Using the Guest’s Name

One of the biggest areas of struggle during our Service Experience Audits is the use of the guest name.  The use of the guest name is one of the most important tools you have to build loyalty with your guests.  Rather than providing your associates with general instructions such as ‘use the guest’s name during every interaction’, focus on the key areas of when the name should be used.  Our method is simple, but very effective.

Use the guest name once to open the conversation and once to close the conversation.

By doing this, it will become second nature to your associates.  They wont even have to think about using the guest name.  They will just do it.

Here are some examples for a few departments on how to use the guest name:

Phone Calls:  As soon as the phone rings, the PBX operator should pull up the guest’s information on the computer and get ready to use the name.  The PBX operator should immediately greet the guest by name.  After handling the call, the operator should end the call by using the guest name.

Check In & Check Out:  As soon as the guest gives the name or room number, the GSA should immediately use the name once.  The GSA should close the conversation with “have a great stay, Mr. Smith.”

In Room Dining:  The server should double check the name just prior to knocking on the door.  Once the analyst opens the door and invites them in, the server should greet the guest by name.  Then once the guest signs the check, the server should thank the analyst by name on their way out of the room.

Housekeeping & Engineering:  The associates should double check the name just prior to knocking on the door.  Once the analyst opens the door and invites them in, the server should greet the guest by name.  To close the conversation, the associate should say something like “enjoy the rest of your stay, Mr. Smith.”

The real key to successful use of the guest name is repetition.  If you require all associates to use the name once during the greeting and once during the closing it is very easy to monitor and it wont belong until everyone on your team is using guest names.

The Ultimate Arrival Experience in Action

welcome-matIf you our working hard on improving your guest welcome with our Guide to the Ultimate Arrival Experience, we wanted to share a few stories of the Ultimate Arrival Experience in action.  The great thing about these two stories is how they show how our Ultimate Arrival Experience will work for any hotel.  These two hotels were both visited by one of our mystery shoppers during the same week…  both took a similar approach to the arrival experience… but are very different hotels.  The first hotel was a budget friendly Holiday Inn, the second was a ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton.

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Consumer Reports Rates Hotels, Results May Surprise You

In the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, they have a special travel section that tells readers how to get great deals on travel.  They also announce their ratings for the year.  The hotel ratings, based on over 27,000 reader’s surveys, are somewhat surprising.  Consumer Reports has odd categories of hotels such as ‘fanciest’, ‘luxury’, and ‘upscale’.  The ‘upscale’ category for instance has both full service and limited service hotels.

The top score was a tie between Ritz-Carlton in the ‘fanciest’ category and Homewood Suites in the ‘upscale’ category.  The Homewood Suites scored an excellent in value and the Ritz scored very good. 

Here are the rankings for a couple of the categories:

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How Google’s Real-Time Search Can Help You Save Customers

We have posted a few articles on how to successfully maintain your internet reputation.  If you missed them, start by reading this one.  Maintaining your hotel’s internet reputation is one of the most important things you can do to save customers who had a bad experience and capture new customers. 

Google has now started to do ‘Real-Time Searches’.  What does that mean?  Google says real-time search is:

… new features that bring your search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time content from across the web. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, we’ll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.

What does that mean to you?  Well, for starters, your hotel will now appear in Google if people post a tweet on Twitter about you or mention you in their Facebook status update.  This can be either really good for you, or really bad for you.  Here is how I first noticed Google’s real-time search.  I was going to go out to a local restaurant and needed the address so I did what I always do… pulled out the iPhone and googled it.  I found the address on the first Google entry.  I happened to scroll down to the bottom of the page and saw someone’s Twitter tweet that said ‘got food poisoning at XYZ Restaurant’. 

Obviously not good for business.  I know that I found another restaurant to eat at.  I am sure that many others did as well.  So, what should you do?  First, have a good plan in place to monitor your hotel’s internet reputation.  Then act on anything both positive and negative that you may see.  It is very easy to contact someone who posts about your hotel on Twitter or Facebook or in their Blog.  Be sure to send them a thank you if they say something positive about you and make sure that you offer to fix any problems they may have had if they say anything negative about you.  Make sure that you have a plan in place today!

Great Comment Card Scores Through Bribery

We found a good laugh.  In the ‘Goofs, Glitches, Gotchas’ section of the newest Consumer Reports, a reader sent in a hotel’s attempt to bribe them to being happy.  The hotel included the following message on their folio:

“For every guest that rates their stay as VERY SATISFIED, we will issue 20,000 points to your priority club card”

The reader asked the manager who said that his intent was to thank people for completing the survey.  Consumer reports adds ‘but not, it seems, for completing it honestly.’

What are you doing to bribe your guests?

Hilton to Devalue Honors Points in 2010

Hilton HonorsHilton is taking a lot of heat after announcing they will change the number of points required to book a free night stay, essentially devaluing their Hilton Honors points by about 20 percent.  Check out the full USA Today article and the nasty comments, here

Our take:  We agree with the travel industry analyst who said ‘it is the absolutely the wrong decision to make at a time when hotel demand is down from corporate business, conferences and leisure.”  It will save cash, but the timing is very poor.

In a follow up post, found here, three other brands seemed to distance themselves from Hilton’s strategy. 

Our favorite comment was from IHG’s Jim Abrahamson who said that rewards members are twice as profitable and elite-level members are 12 times as profitable.  He goes on to say “if one platinum-level member leaves us, we’d have to go out and find 12 new customers just to replace that one.”

New Study Says Hotels Only Respond to 4 Percent of Negative Reviews!

trip-advisor-logoWe have been saying for years that one of the most important things to do is to maintain your hotel’s internet reputation.  If you missed some of our articles, click here.

Market Metrix and TripAdvisor did a recent study and found that “85 percent of hotels have no guidelines for monitoring, responding to or acting on guest reviews.”  85 percent!  They also state that “only 4 percent of negative reviews are responded to!”  The entire article can be read here.

The article suggests many of the same techniques that we do for mainting your hotel’s internet reputation.  You wouldn’t ignore a bad comment card, right?  Then why would you ignore a bad internet review of your hotel?  Get a plan in place today!

Unsatisfied Guest Takes Revenge

united-breaks-guitarsThis story really shows the power of the internet when it comes to poor customer service.  We have reported before how sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Yahoo Travel give power to guests to sway future guests from staying or not staying at your property.  This story takes it to a new level.

Back in the spring of 2008, a musician named Dave Carroll was on a United Airlines flight and witnessed the baggage handlers throw his guitar case.  When he arrived at his destination, his $3500 guitar was severely damaged.  He spent 9 months trying to get reimbursement for the damaged guitar and was treated poorly by United Airlines’ customer service department.  After getting the runaround for 9 months, he promised the last customer service representative that he spoke to that he would write and produce 3 songs about his experience with United Airlines and post online.

He posted his first song and funny video on July 6, 2009.  Check out the video here:

The video called ‘United Breaks Guitars’ has already been watched by over 3.2 MILLION PEOPLE in only a week.  The story has also been picked up by many major news networks such as CNN.

It just goes to show the power of the internet and why every single guest complaint must be resolved.

You can also check out Dave’s story on his website here.