Tag Archives: lasting impressions

Last impressions

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me…thanks for visiting hanging sign

Top Tip #6

Last impressions

You’re only as good as your last encounter with the customer.

What’s the very last thing your customers see, hear, smell, taste or feel as they leave?

What will your customers remember most about doing business with you?

Whatever happens in the last few moments of their transaction that will undoubtedly influence their lasting impression.

What’s the one thing they remember when they get home, or next time they’re thinking of doing business with you….

Grand finale or damp squib?

When my husband and I are on holiday we normally like to do something special and memorable on our last night. Our recent Norwegian Cruise was no exception. As you’d expect, dinner was included and each evening there been a set time for dinner, sharing a table with other passengers. It was good to catch up over dinner and hear of everybody’s adventures of the day.

So we were all set for our last evening to have some fun, reflect on our trip and end our holiday with a grand finale.

What we got instead was a boring, lonely and flat evening.

Rather than make the most of this opportunity the restaurant had decided to change the format for the evening and laid on a buffet. And rather than having a set time as on previous evenings the buffet was served over a 2½ hour window. We hadn’t seen our dining companions all day so opted to go in at our normal dinner time in the hope that they would have done the same. Instead when we arrived at the restaurant it was deserted; it seemed that virtually every other passenger had already come and gone. There were a few other stragglers like us but in the large restaurant, sat at our assigned tables we were scattered around all four corners of the restaurant. The result was no atmosphere and a feeling of isolation. Not conducive to a relaxed evening.

And because of the lack of other diners we felt that the restaurant staff had lost interest; it was over 15 minutes just to get a drink. The buffet table itself although there was an extensive range had been picked over and we felt we were just getting the remains; it seemed as if nothing fresh had been bought out in the last hour.

The end result was a less than favourable last impression. And a missed opportunity as the last thing we felt like doing was sitting over a few extra glasses of wine (hmm, come to think of it I don’t think we were even offered the wine list…). We just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible!

What do you do to create a grand finale for your customers?

  • Save some of the highlights until the end of the day or event. As well as making it memorable for your customers it gives a more natural close to the occasion, but keeps people interested (and potentially spending) right until the end.
  • Recognising there will be a time in the day or evening when you need to start preparing for the next day e.g. laying up for breakfast, entice people into another area e.g. into the lounge for their coffee (opposed to making people feel uncomfortable and forced to leave).
  • Ensuring everything is still available right to then end of their visit.
  • Present a gift, memento or a (pleasant) surprise at the end of their stay or visit “I heard what you said earlier and thought you might like this…..” Anything that is unexpected and adds a personal touch.
  • Ask for feedback in a way that shows you are genuinely interested and value their opinion and comments.
  • Don’t leave people hanging on when they are ready to leave – queues at the cloakroom, delays in getting their bill or settling up, bottlenecks in the car park, long queues at the toilets.
  • Ensure the last thing your customers see is a friendly smiling face….

Leaving a lasting impression

We’re all familiar with the sayings about a first impression: a first impression is a lasting impression, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you only get one chance to make a first impression, it will form a lasting impression within the first seconds, etc. So does that mean if you make a great first impression that’s all you need to do?

We sometimes put so much energy into a positive first impression that we then forget all about the lasting impression. What is the impression that stays with your guests when they leave your hotel? What will be the lasting memory that stays with them when they’re thinking about booking their next visit, telling their friends or colleagues about their stay, or telling the world on review sites about their experience?

These are the three ways to be proactive:


Ask for their feedback

If what you have provided fails to meet expectations wouldn’t you rather know about it before the guest leaves? Simply relying on reviews, questionnaires or a visitor’s book when your customers leave is not only impersonal, but is leaving it a bit too late if things weren’t perfect. Face-to-face feedback will always be the most effective, but making a hurried statement such as “I hope everything was OK” as the guest checks out doesn’t do much to demonstrate that you’re really interested in the feedback and finding out how they feel about their stay. Make it easy for your customers to give you useful feedback by asking specific questions that will give something more than a yes or no. Open questions starting with how or what are the most useful; for example how would you rate …, how could we improve on …, what did you like most about …


Talk to your customers throughout

Of course leaving a lasting impression doesn’t mean only showing your interest when they leave. Being visible in your business, and making contact with your guests throughout their stay builds rapport and trust. Once you’ve gained this you’re in a far better position to identify guests’ needs and expectations and gain valuable feedback first hand.  The same goes for your staff too, so encourage them to talk to your customers. Give them the appropriate training to ask for feedback in the knowledge that they are confidence to deal with it – good or bad – in a positive way.


Problem recovery

Accept that from time to time things will go wrong; there may be occasional delays at breakfast, you’ll get power cuts, you might run out of their favourite tipple in the bar, fellow guests or deliveries may disturb your guests in the early hours, something may get overlooked by housekeeping. Most of our guests are reasonable, and they understand these things happen too, just as long as you’re prepared to listen, empathise and do something about it to resolve the situation and not allow them to leave with a bitter taste in the mouth.

The sooner problems are identified, the easier before they have a chance to fester. Be observant and look out for signs that things aren’t right or that someone wants to get your attention. Picking up a problem early on and dealing with any complaints (justified or otherwise) in a positive way before a guest leaves ensures you can not only deal with it before other guests experience the same problem, but ensures the affected guest has an opportunity to get it resolved to their satisfaction before telling the world about it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at those little touches which add the wow factor……………….


Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February https://www.naturallyloyal.com/coaching/leading-for-peak-performance-29-day-challenge/

Continue to build the relationship after your hotel guests or restaurant diners have left

Show you appreciate your hotel guests’ or restaurant diners’custom; a little thank you note of some description goes a long way, even better if it is personalised in some way; hand written better still. This is an ideal time to ask for feedback, testimonials for reviews too.

Keep in touch. Tell your customers what you are doing. What have you done as a result of customer feedback, what’s new, what awards or accolades have you received.

Promote events. Let your customers know what you’ve got coming up in the future. Even if they won’t be there to take advantage of it, it may prompt a return visit or they may pass the details on to others who might be interested in the event.

Help to build rapport by taking the opportunity to meet with your customers’ or prospects’ in other environments, too. And remember that a lot of networking is done online today, so consider how to use social media to help you build your relationship with your customers.

Reward loyalty. The very least you can do is to remember your regular customers. Capture their details and preferences – do they like a particular room, prefer a specific table or need a special pillow? Remembering these small details can make your customer feel valued.

Why not help your customers to celebrate? Note their birthdays and anniversaries on your database, and then invite them to the hotel or restaurant to receive their special gift or offer, e.g. invite wedding couples back for their first (and subsequent) anniversary, invite customers to celebrate their birthday and get a cake or free bottle of bubbly, invite businesses to celebrate any awards, keep a note of special anniversaries for local businesses – their AGM, awards dinners, anniversary of their launch. People don’t normally celebrate alone, so these provide ideal opportunities to bring in new customers.

Make your offers worthwhile to encourage people to bring their friends or colleagues and make up a big party. Receiving a birthday card with a voucher – or an invitation to celebrate a forthcoming anniversary – is a pleasant surprise, and adds a very personal touch. If you can hand write these, even better (it can make a huge difference and really demonstrate your interest in your customer).

Building your customer relationship is an on going process, and there’s no denying it takes a bit of effort, but effort that will reward you with more business, and it’s still one of the simplest ways to market a hotel.

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