Monthly Archives: July 2011

Overcome your guests’ challenges

Listen to all the reasons people give for NOT staying, or limiting their stay with you. What other services you can provide that might just tip the balance in favour of that night out, overnight stay or weekend away. Think of the challenges your guests face, and how easily you could solve their problems:

  • No baby sitter – can you offer a babysitting service
  • What to do with the dog – recommend kennels (or allow dogs)
  • Poor transport network – provide a free taxi service to and from the station or airport
  • If I stay away another night I’ll miss my gym session and end up eating more than I should – a common concern for business users, so set up temporary membership arrangements at the local gym, and provide a healthy option light or calorie counted meal
  • The kids will want their bikes, but we don’t have a bike rack – offer bike hire or team up with a local hire shop ~
  • There’s nothing to do if the weather is bad – set up a kids’ play room and indoor entertainment area, and provide games and indoor activities
  • I don’t have time to do my laundry, get my hair cut or legs waxed – provide a laundry and pressing service, or offer complimentary or discount vouchers for your own spa or a local beauty or hair salon

You could take the attitude ‘that’s not my problem’ or you can see these ‘problems’ as great opportunities for additional services. Without having to think too hard or spend too much, people can have a ready-solved problem if you’ve put together a package ‘just for them’.
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Be flexible and offer hotel guests alternatives

You can’t bow to every request a hotel guest ever makes. But don’t be so bound by the rules that any request is met with a hostile ‘jobsworth’ attitude! If you cannot meet your guests’ initial requests, look at offering an alternative:

  • A guest wants an early breakfast, before your kitchen staff normally arrive – offer a continental breakfast or a tray instead, or at the very least a take away cup of fresh coffee.
  • You receive a request just 10 minutes before service for an alternative to the set menu for a big party – you don’t have a choice, but listen to what the guest needs to avoid and offer an alternative combination without this item.
  • Your weekend guests ring ahead and say they haven’t been able to get a dog sitter. You don’t take dogs, but can you find a local kennel who can accommodate the dog?
  • Your guest asks for a particular brand of whisky for an important client he is entertaining. You don’t stock it, so do you refuse, or phone your neighbouring hotel or pub to see if they have it in stock.

Encourage your staff to get into the mindset of looking for an alternative solution, even if the initial question has to be answered with a ‘no’, it can be followed by ‘but I can do x for you’, or ‘I know someone who could do this for you’.
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Offer your hotel guests and restaurant customers a choice

Give your guests choice. This does not mean having 100 items on your breakfast menu or 40 types of pillow – but do give them a choice you can cope with. Again listen to what your customers tell you.

  • In your restaurant, how often do people tell you they are too full for a dessert? Serving huge portions may be appealing to some, but others may be put off having a starter or dessert if they think the portion sizes are too big. Why not provide a taster version, for a slightly lower price, to ensure the sale? That way the waiting staff don’t need to make a judgement call or check with the kitchen if this can be done; it’s already in the system, and the kitchen don’t have to guess the portion size.
  • Can you offer a choice of rooms in terms of features or facilities? Even if the rooms are all a standard layout, can you offer people a choice of outlook, proximity to reception, in-room amenities etc?
  • How often do you get asked what time is check out? Can you be flexible to allow later check-outs (for an additional cost or as part of a promotional special) so guests have the opportunity to make the most of their last day before they head home?
  • Do your guests come to you to celebrate special occasions? If so do you have one room, which is very special in its own right, or where you can include extra services? What else can you add to your standard offer to make a deluxe version to sell at a premium price?

Become your own hotel inspector, or train your staff to become your personal team of hotel inspectors giving you valuable and objective feedback where ever and whenever you want https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/the-customer-journey/


Listen to your guests and turn ‘no’ into ‘yes’

Have you ever stayed in a hotel or eaten in a restaurant where the staff and management have been so hell bent on the rules that it’s impossible to get what you want? I’m sure we all have. And will we ever go back there? I doubt it.

But allowing the attitude that anything goes can be damaging to your bottom line, especially if you are a small hotel. And it can be confusing for staff. So how do you strike the balance?

Over the next few days I’ll be exploring the options to show we are listening and responding to our guests needs and helping to build loyalty and trust.

Anticipate their needs

Start by identifying customers’ needs in advance. Identify your perfect customer and identify the things that will be important to each category of guest. Put yourself in their shoes or ask them directly what they want from their stay with you.

  • Are they business users who need a phone re charger, restaurant or theatre bookings make, access to a printer to print their boarding pass, a quick no frills breakfast before their meeting, or an express check out?
  • Do you cater for families, who may want equipment for infants and small children (and staff who look happy to see them!), child friendly menus, and something to entertain the kids?
  • Do you cater for a lot of celebrations when people may want birthday cakes, flowers, or gifts? If you know there is a likelihood something will be asked for, build this into your services as a norm, that way it can be planned for and staff can be get the right training to deal with the situation.

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How to waste your hotel marketing budget

Is your hotel making any of these mistakes…..?

Last week my husband and I read a full page colour advert in one of the colour supplements for a holiday we’d been thinking about for a while. This was the Saturday paper and at lunchtime on Saturday I went to their website to find more details. So far so good, the advert had grabbed our attention and had a very clear call to action.

But the website didn’t match the advert. The specific holiday advertised was difficult to find and when I did find it the prices quoted in the advert didn’t seem to be available. So I’m already starting to lose faith in the company.

Undeterred I picked up the phone to ask for more details. Bearing in mind this was the day the advert came out I was rather surprised that the number they gave went directly to a voicemail saying there was no one available to take our call. I was given a selection of options, one of which included requesting a brochure. Fine, all I needed at this point was a brochure, so I selected this option.

Even this bit they couldn’t get right, as I was immediately put on hold!

Quite frankly I have better things to do with my Saturdays and realise there are plenty more companies offering similar holidays. As my first impression was so poor, needless to say this company will not be getting my business. I wonder just how much potential business they lost on that day, and what damage this did to their credibility.

When your hotel does any marketing or promotional activity how prepared are you, your team and your systems for the response you get? Or are you just turning people away and wasting your hotel marketing budget?

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Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 5

Keep talking

Give constructive feedback -what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved.

Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them.

Having a happy and motivated team will not only help you retain your talent and reduce staff turnover, but will lead to better productivity and customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs.

If you want to retain your best people you need to give them what they want.

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Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 4

What if you are the problem?

We may not want to admit it, but you or your management team may be the reason that people leave. Rather than hide your head in the sand, reflect on what you need to do to change. Find out what are the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach before others decide to jump ship.

How much direction do you provide? Do people know exactly what’s expected of them, and have the tools, time and resources to deliver? Lead by example so there are no mixed messages.

Ensure that you and your management team are approachable. Provide support when it’s needed, and be receptive to when this is required. Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. Consult staff and listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.

Take time to talk to staff to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.

In the final part tomorrow will discuss the impact good communication with your team.

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Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 3

Insecurity

I’ve worked with a number of businesses recently who have had to make cuts and changes. This makes people uncomfortable, and so when another opportunity comes along, they jump at the chance if they feel it has better long term security.

Communicate any changes that are happening in the business before they happen, and how this might affect them.

Set standards so that people know what’s expected of them, and can measure their own performance, and not left in doubt about their contribution.  Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it.  This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.  And make sure you provide the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.

Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas. A win-win for both.

Tomorrow we’ll look at whether you or your management team may be the reason that people leave your hotel.

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Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 2

Recognition and reward

When staff leave, if the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition (bearing in mind for some roles your competitor for staff may be in totally different industries). But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package.

What about the less tangible aspects of their package. Recognise and reward performance and achievements. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people strengths, training, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.

Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths.

Career and prospects

If they’re moving for career progression, is this something that you could have given them but just didn’t make them aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that all your team get the recognition and development they need for their career progression?

Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons. And make use of the training grants available through the tourist organisations, colleges, and government-funded schemes.

You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small hotel, but having some kind of succession plan in place does give people something to work towards. However, be careful you don’t make promises that you are unable to keep.

Make training a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes for both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their CV and are willing to take on training responsibilities as part of their own development.

Tomorrow will look at the impact of changes in your hotel business and how to minimise the disruption this brings.

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Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 1

We already know that there is a lack of new talent entering the industry so it’s important that we hang on to our best people. The hospitality industry has always had one of the highest labour turnover rates in all sectors of the economy, so are we just deluding ourselves if we think we can beat that trend? Well maybe there are a few things we can all be doing to tip the balance in our favour.

Each day this week I’ll be posting steps you can take to hang on to your hotel’s talent.

Why do they quit?

Staff turnover can be infectious, the more people come and go, the easier it is for others to make the decision to leave. Unless we understand why staff leave it’s unlikely we’ll reverse the trend.

In an ideal world some kind of confidential exit interview should be conducted and wherever possible this is best done by someone other than a line manager. Let’s face it, if the reason is it’s poor management or leadership that has prompted the move, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the whole truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses. But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out as much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.

Tomorrow we look at how we can use recognition and reward, and career prospects to help retain our best people.

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