Making personal contact with your hotel guests or restaurant customers builds rapport and trust. This starts with being visible – not just your staff, but some managers’ presence too. But being visible is only half the story. What are you doing to reflect and convey your values and attitude to customers and staff? The way you interact with your staff and participate in the operation gets noticed.
Talking to your customers directly is by far the best way to get feedback. They may tell you things that they wouldn’t feed back to your staff. Get to know your customers personally – their likes and dislikes, their routine, their suggestions, their network – all this not only builds rapport, but makes it a lot easier to upsell and tailor your offers to your market.
Every bit of feedback you get from your customers is valuable to you, whether it’s positive or negative and whether you agree with it or not. Take on board the good and the bad. If you don’t agree with the feedback, find out (tactfully) what has led to their perception, as this may lead to the root of the problem. If you don’t know what disappoints customers, you can’t improve on it, so make sure you are prepared to listen to, and take on board any thoughts on what lets you down, so you can learn from this and address it. Show them that you appreciate the feedback. Then demonstrate you’ve acted on it if relevant.
Be flexible. You can’t bow to every request a customer 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 customers’ initial requests, look at offering an alternative. Catering for one off special needs is the sort of attention to detail that builds you loyalty and referrals.
What is there that makes your hotel, restaurant or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others? This shows your appreciation of their business and well as acting as a memento and reinforces your relationship (as well as potentially an opportunity for additional sales). Could you offer any of the following either as a gift or as additional sales? Convert your renowned menu or signature dishes into a recipe book, package your hand-made petit fours into a gift box to take home; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; sell your homemade bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys; sell luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries. A win-win, the guest has something special to take home and you get an opportunity to ensure they remember you long after they’ve left (and maybe an upselling opportunity too!)
Tomorrow we’ll discuss how to continue to build the guest relationship even once they’ve left you, to set the wheels in motion for repeat business and referrals – one of the easiest ways to market a hotel.
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