Many hotels have valet service, bell service, and a good team at the front desk but still, fail to provide a great arrival experience. The main problem is that the three teams do not work together as one team with the guest’s interest at heart. While the valet attendant, the bellman, and the guest service agent may all do a great job individually, the guest sees the arrival as one experience and may be frustrated.
The solution is communication… communication between associates and the guest. Here is how the ultimate arrival experience takes place:
A guest pulls up to the hotel and is immediately greeted by the valet attendant. The valet attendant welcomes the guest to the hotel and offers luggage assistance. The valet attendant does the normal tasks such as filling out a luggage ticket and asking the guest his/her name. The valet attendant loads up all of the luggage onto a bell cart and escorts the guest to the front entrance of the hotel. The valet attendant is then ready to hand off the guest to the waiting bellman.
Here is where the first important communication is required. The valet attendant should introduce the guest to the bellman and the bellman to the guest by saying something like “Mr. Smith, this is John. He is going to assist you with the check-in and then escort you up to your room”. We also recommend that the valet attendant discretely hands the bellman a small card with the guest’s name on it. Hopefully, the valet attendant got the guest’s name when the guest first pulled up.
Now the bellman can escort the guest to the front desk to check-in. Again, here is where communication is key. The bellman should introduce the guest to the GSA and the GSA to the guest by saying something like “Hello Lisa, this is Mr. Smith. He has a reservation for this evening.” Again, the bellman can refer to the card the valet attendant gave him if the name is difficult. Lisa can then handle the check-in while the bellman waits off to the side. Once the guest is checked in, the bellman is ready to escort the guest to the room. The bellman can escort the guest to the room, tell the guest about the hotel’s amenities, and thank him/her for staying at the hotel.
We 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:
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’.
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.
A 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!
Our analysts have stayed at many hotels so far in 2008. During those visits, the lack of general safety and security really stands out. Though we do test for some loss prevention standards, in many instances, things just happen that make it really scary to be staying in a hotel. Many of those things are due to a lack of employee training and standards.
In one instance, one of our analysts had their car valet parked, she approached the attendant and told him that she had lost the ticket. He simply asked for the analyst’s last name and retrieved the vehicle that matched. He did not check ID, match the name with a room number, or anything else of the sort. The analyst should have asked for the Lamborghini sitting in the driveway!
During another visit, an analyst left the room to visit the restaurant. Housekeeping cleaned the room while the analyst was gone. Upon returning, the room door was not closed, but barely open. The room door did not close automatically as it should have. She was very surprised that her laptop and personal belongings were still in the room.
In the time of internet shopping and easy price comparison, building loyalty is more important than ever. If guests do not feel loyal to your hotel, they will always pick a cheaper option. Building loyalty is about creating an emotional 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’.
When we evaluate new hotels for our overnight stay reports, more than 1 out of every 3 simple guest requests is completely ignored. The analyst’s requests are simple things such as a toothbrush, more towels, or to have an engineer or bellman come up to the room. The analyst will make the request and never hear from a hotel associate ever again. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts to make sure your requests are handled perfectly:
Dorequire the guest service agent to log the request on a proper Guest Request Log
Don’t allow them to scribble the request on scrap paper, the back of their hand, or anything else but the log!
Do make sure the log has space for the GSA to log the following: time of the request, room number, guest name, the item requested, teammate who handled the request, time request completed, and the time of the callback.
Do make every GSA log down every request on the guest request log. If a guest requests a toothbrush or requests a room change, it must be on the log.