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!

Three Hotel Brands Named Customer Service Champs by BusinessWeek

businessweekFour Seasons Hotels & Resorts (12th place), Ritz-Carlton (5th), and JW Marriott (25th) all made the top 25 of BusinessWeek’s annual best companies for customer service.  All three hotel brands received an ‘A’ on both Quality of Staff and Efficiency of Service.  All three also scored about 50 percent on Definitely Would Recommend Brand.  JW Marriott did the best on Will Definitely Repurchase by scoring 48 percent, a tremendous score for a hotel.

Other travel companies that made the list were Jetblue Airlines (19) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car (16).

To view the full list on BusinessWeek’s website, click here.

TrueGuest Service Tips for Every Hotel!

Logo_Mark-Five_Diamond_Hospitality copy2We are very fortunate to be able to stay at some of the top hotels, including some amazing five diamond properties.  While your hotel may not have the staffing budget of a five diamond hotel, there are still plenty of service tips that everyone can learn from the five diamonds.

Here are some tips for providing five diamond service that does not cost much:

  1. Teach all of your associates the phrase ‘my pleasure’:  When a guest says ‘thank you’, associates at top properties always respond with ‘it is my pleasure’.  Other properties respond with ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem’.
  2. Every associate must be guest focused instead of task focused:  At a three diamond hotel, a housekeeper held up the elevator that I was in to wait for her friend so they could go to lunch together.  The next day at a five diamond, an engineer who happened to be walking near an elevator saw me walking down the hallway and automatically pressed the elevator button.  The engineer was aware of my need as a guest.  The housekeeper was only aware of her own need for a lunch break.

Now There is No Excuse Not to Use a Guest’s Name

nametagA while back, we published an article on how to properly use a guest’s name. Using a guest’s name is one of the biggest struggles for many properties. But now, there is no excuse. More and more businesses are recognizing the value of using a guest’s name and are training their associates on how to do it correctly.

Customer Service call banks have really improved. Call your phone company or your bank’s customer service line. They will probably use your name many, many times during the conversation. They will also try to up-sell you on additional services, but that is a different article!

The other day, my arteries were feeling a little less clogged than usual so I stopped by Jack In The Box for lunch. After I ordered, the cashier asked me my first name. She then wrote it on the ticket. A few minutes later when my order was ready, they called out my name instead of ‘order number 196, ultimate cheeseburger and fries’. Then the associate handed me the tray and then thanked me by name.

Now, if Jack In The Box can use the name of their guests, there really is no excuse!

The Hard (Rock) Sell

Anyone who has ever worked with TrueGuest will tell you that one of the biggest things we preach is proper selling and up-selling techniques.  We have to give a tip of the hat to a restaurant that really nails the art of selling.  Here is our story:

Three of our team members went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a quick lunch.  Because the Hard Rock is a tourist destination, they really had a lot to sell.  The host sat us at a table, handed us menus and said that our server would be over in just a minute.  A minute later, the server arrived and greeted us.  She asked for our drink order.  Instead of just asking ‘what would you like to drink’, she also recommended three beverage selections including their specialty iced tea.  When one of us ordered a soda, she casually tried to up-sell him on the souvenir cup.  It probably would have added another $4 or $5 to the tab.

After taking the beverage orders, the server offered us an appetizer.  Instead of just asking ‘what can I get for you’, she recommended an appetizer sampler platter for us to share.  The appetizer platter was $19.

When she came back to take the entree order, she came up with creative ways to up-sell.  She offered different side order choices (at a premium price of course) and extra toppings on the sandwiches (add another buck for bacon, etc.).

While we were waiting for our food, she brought over a miniature catalog of Hard Rock stuff from the gift shop.  She said that if we wanted to purchase a t-shirt or something, she could get it and add it to our bill.

After the meal, she attempted to sell us on some deserts.  The desert menu was cleverly placed inside of the check presenter so you would be forced to look at it.

The server was great at selling and had a lot of opportunity.  She was very casual about everything that she offered.  It would have been very easy to say ‘yes’ to many of her choices.  She probably does very well with her tips and her average check is probably well over $20, even though most entrees are only around $10.

What is Your Hotel’s Internet Reputation?

Ever watch someone under 30 book a hotel room?  They fire up the internet and go to a site like expedia.com or hotels.com and do a search of the city they are traveling to.  Then they narrow their choices to a handful of hotels that fit their budget.  Then the fun really starts.  People who have spent the last decade on the internet know how to get the most out of it.  No 25 year old is going to trust that 4 star rating that Expedia gave your hotel.  They don’t believe that your hotel was ‘hotel of the year’ for the last five years as stated on your website.  They are going to see what actual people (well, internet people anyway) have to say.

IE_logTheir decision to stay at your hotel starts with a quick review of your website.  Does it have a pool?  Check.  Steakhouse?  Got it.  Gym?  Ok.  They take your hotel into consideration.  But is it better than the hotel down the street that has the similar rates?

A quick Google search will tell them what they need to know.  They read the reviews on tripadvisor.com.  Maybe they check out yelp.com or read your Yahoo Travel ratings.  Oh, Mary from Iowa says your staff is rude and your food is lousy.  Three people say that your hotel lost their reservations and two people say that they were overcharged during their stay.

You just lost a reservation.

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What’s in a Name?

nametagIn the time of internet shopping and easy price comparison, building loyalty is more important than ever.  If guests do not feel loyal towards your hotel, they will always pick a cheaper option.  Building loyalty is about creating an emotion connection between your guest and your hotel.  Using the guest’s name during every interaction is the most important step towards building that connection.

During our one night Service Experience Audit, there are over 15 different areas where we score the use of the guest’s name.  Every associate from the bellman to the breakfast server is expected to use the guest’s name.  Here are some tips to help you and your team use the guest’s name more often:

Does the guest have a name that you cannot pronounce and you are afraid to butcher?  Don’t worry.  Anyone who grew up with a name with 12 letters and no vowels has heard every possible attempt.  They will not be offended by yours.

Is the name on the room a male’s name but a female answers when you call?  Don’t assume that it is the wife.  Do a better job during the reservations and check in process to get the names of all of the guests in the room.  If you are still unsure, say ‘I’ll send 2 towels up to the Smith room right away’ instead of ‘I’ll send 2 towels to room 302’.

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