Now I know this sounds easy in writing but it is hard when you own or manage a Small Superior Lodging, many of our clients and partners tell us “Sara has been doing the job for so long it will be hard to replace her”. When we tell the owner or manager your employees will step up for you and cover until Sara is replace they look at us like we are crazy. Understand this the other employees like there job and most do not like change. They know in there heart of heart’s Sara is wrong but go along with her because it is easier to complain and go to the SWAMP then to stay on dry land. Just like a young child in your house, a person must have rules, boundaries and discipline in their work life. We have found that 98% of good employees leave because bad or disgruntled employees (disgruntled employees- definition; displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish) run them out of the Hotel/ Motel.
Here are a few key items that will help employees become better with guest service and make them want to stay for years;
1. From my many years with Marriott I have found one of the daily 20 items they use at all there employees meetings to really help employees understand what guests want and are asking for, it is called the L.E.A.R.N model. L- is for Listen to the guest with both ears, E- is for empathize with the guest (understand or be sensitive to another's feelings or ideas), A- is for apologize to the guest, R- is for react to the guests needs or wants and N- is to notify all managers and employees of the guests issue and follow up to make the guest happy or please with the outcome. When Oigidecht works with owners and manager of Small Superior Lodging and teach this technique to employees they get up and hug us or say thank you I now have the tools to do my job better. L.E.A.R.N-ing is fundamental in any Hotel/ Motel.
2. Checklists are the key to consistency in guest service. Many Small Superior Lodging owners and managers say to us “one week I get great reviews for Jon on Trip Advisor and the next week not so much”. They say I just cannot figure out why my guests are so corky about my service. We say it is not the guests, it is the employees and how they approach each guest. Have you ever gone to McDonalds in the 80’s and 90”s and went through there drive-through you knew the person in the squawk box would ask you these eight words “would you like an apple pie with that?” Yes, that is an example of consistency and I know many Small Superior Lodging owners and managers say, well I want to be unique. Being unique is what sets you apart from all the others Hotels/ Motels we agree but what makes you the best is consistent service Example; If Jon has no checklist and is winging it then the first guest comes to check-in that guest gets Jon’s full overview of the area and rooms and all the great things there are to do. While the second guest is waiting for Jon to be done with guest one he waits looking around the lobby. Jon hands guest one his/ her keys and the second guests waiting in line steps up to check-in. If Jon has not check list of items to tell or explain to very guest, the second guest most likely will get the what is your name and here is your keys to the room check-in. We have all experience this in our life time. Many clients and partners ask Steve what is the number one thing I should but on my check list and the answer is simple “Use the guests name at least 3 times during the check-in or check-out process”. As I mentioned above everyone wants to be recognized, not just your employees. Your employees have a name tag right? So does your guests, they just do not have it sown to their shirts.
3. Have away for the guests to comment on the Hotel/ Motel employees and experience during their stay and after their stay. At Oigidecht we get phone calls all the time from owner and managers saying well “I have really good Trip Advisor scores so why would I need you?”. Yup, I am sure you do but how many postings do you have compared to your competitors? Then on the same note we have owners and managers that say our “we have really bad Trip Advisor scores what can I do?” Well in both cases here is what you can do as owners or managers. Have a checklist or process so when the guest checks-in with in 30 minutes a employee will call them in their room and ask them simply “how is everything and you room?” And “can I assist you with anything?” This will blow the guest away. Many of our partners and owners say “how can I do this with all the other stuff going on in the Hotel/ Motel?” If your employees do not have a second for a phone call you have bigger challenges. Once the guest has told you all is good or they have an issue start the L.E.A.R.N process and fix the issue. They we suggest the following day or maybe two days into their stay call them again or find them at the pool and ask again “How is everything with your say?” “Can we get you anything?”. The final chapter is when the guest leaves the Hotel / Motel they need to give you feedback. I cannot tell you how many times we have come across Small Superior Lodging owners and manager say to us “well the e-mail survey is too expensive” or “guests never sends it back to us”. First losing a guest is too expensive, an e-mail survey is cheap. Second if your survey is more than ten questions I personally do not want to fill it out and most likely I do not have the time. Third have you ever thought about incenting them to fill out the survey? Yes, why not offer them 10% to 15% off there next stay if they fill the e-survey out, maybe a free drink at a local bar or how about a free discounted coupon book for the area you got for free? These will all incent the guest to return to your Hotel/ Motel. There are a lot of cheap but good tools for e-mail surveys and here are a few sites to look at (www.surveymonkey.com www.revinate.com) These surveys are also great for your new employee recognition of the quarter program, the more the guests use your employees name in a survey in a positive light the better. Also once the guest fills out a positive comment survey send them a thank you e-mail and ask them to post their comments on “Trip Advisor or other sites like Yelp, Face Book, Twitter or Online travel site like Expedia reviews”. If the guest had unresolved issues after their stay “make it right for them” and ask them to come back. Did you know 95% of guest have a issue when at the Hotel/ Motel and 90% will report it when asked, it is the 10% that are shy or feel better telling you after the stay that are the “online review killers”. Better to defuse the matter then to make it worse and have them post a two page essay on Trip Advisor about your Hotel/ Motel. We all know there are those guest who take advantage of knowing if they complain they will get what they want but understand this they are a minority not the majority of guests. We have owners and managers that will say “all our guests are out to get us” and yes they are with that attitude.
4. Communication is the “key” to guest service and happy employees! The number one service killer in any Hotel/ Motel whether it is a chain hotel or a Small Superior Lodging is the lack of communication between departments,
employee shifts and owners and managers. When Oigidecht secret shops a Hotel/ Motel we will tell a desk employee at check in something we must have a day or two latter. Then we will ask for a item from each department to see how it is
handled that same day. Most owners and managers know the front desk is the “Nerve Center” (definition; a place from which the activities of an organization, system, etc., are controlled) of the hotel/ motel. In any Hotel/ Motel room 99% of guests will “dial zero” when they have a quest or concern. Where does “0” (zero) go, to in most Hotel/ Motel? If you said front desk you are correct. Yup, in most Small Superior Lodging this is the same person who took your reservation over the phone two months ago, then checked you in twenty minutes ago and is going to be the same person the guest is
communicating there challenge with. Think about that for a second, your front desk employee is not only the face of the Hotel/ Motel but the head of communication for the hotel. “Do you have all your aces in their places”? This a old Starwood Hotels and Resorts saying and it mean “do you have the right employees in place and are they the best for the Hotel/ Motel positions they are holding”. As a new company we have been to many tradeshows for our clients and partners to hire college grads that have a Hospitality Degrees. When I interview them I always ask “did you take any classes on communication while in college?” 98% say no they had not, so make sure when hiring a front desk person that they have the personality skills but also the communication and problems solving skills you are looking for. As I mentioned above checklists are key to the successful communication. Many clients and partners say why? Well there are two forms of communication in any Hotel/ Motel. 1) Explanation Communication- Most of the time it is an item or task a department or employee needs to make happen quickly for a guest. Sometimes it is a recovery Example; Jon calls engineering and says I just spoke with Mr. Jones in 210 and he needs you to please unclog his toilet, please go to his room immediately and report back to me when this task is accomplished. 2) follow-up communication- this form of communication we find in many Small Superior Lodging is over looked which is a big mistake. Follow-up is the key to going from good service to incredible service. Communication fails when a Hotel / Motel has no follow-up with departments and guests. In the example Jon asked “please go to his room immediately and report back to me when this task is accomplished” The key words are “report back”! If Jon dose not hear from Engineering in 10 minutes from his call then Jon’s checklist lets him know “he has not heard back and should follow up”. So Jon calls Engineering and Engineering says “Yes, Jon the toilet is fixed and Mr. Jones seems fine.” Jon writes down the time it was fixed and who fixed it on his checklist. Then Jon goes a step further and calls Mr. Jones and ask “Mr. Jones is your toilet fixed? Is there anything else you need?”. Mr. Jones replies “Jon you have been incredible thank for your help, nothing else at this time”. By using proper communication and having a checklist Jon has killed two birds with one call. 1) the guest is happy 2) Jon has tracked the issue for the owner or manager. With this new checklist tracking sheet, really it is a form of communication because it tells the owner or manager where and what the guest is having the challenges with. We have had owners and manager come to us and say “Wow, I know knew I has this challenge until we started tracking it on a spreadsheet, now I can fix it”.
These are just some of the technique we use in managing a Small Superior Lodging or consulting with owners or managers. I hope this help make your Many Small Superior Lodging better.
Oigidecht Hotels and Resorts
This is me (Steve) at a HSMAI panel back in March 2014. Which on am I, well I am the guy in the blue jacket with glasses.