Guest service is the one thing that distinguishes a hotel from a luxury hotel. Service is the most important component in creating loyalty and long lasting memories for our guests. So I am asking myself why the “NO-mentality” has grown so strong in the last couple of years. Is it strictly a financial issue or are we just too comfortable in our “service boxes” these days?
We have all gone through a numerous amount of hotel orientations and university classes explaining the importance of thinking outside the box when providing exceptional guest service. But when trying to apply this to our actual workday, is it only me or is the “NO-mentality” within the management teams out there limiting your creativity and motivation?
I have experienced both, an exceptional management team that supported every little and big effort to WOW a guest and the other side where they are just too comfortable in saying NO.
A great example of a supporting team where everyone strives to create a magical environment for their guests comes from the Ritz-Carlton, Doha in Qatar.
Last year, I spent 6 months in the Front Desk team as my second internship and I have many great memories from there, especially when it comes to guest service.
One afternoon I had two gentlemen from Saudi Arabia checking in with me and since I am a tall, blond, Swedish woman it was no surprise to me that they asked me where I am from. I replied that I am from Sweden and one of the gentlemen started to talk to me about his favorite author, Henning Mankel, who is Swedish. He also informed me that he had trouble finding his books in Saudi Arabia. Immediately this triggered my “opportunity sensor” and the next morning I was discussing with my manager how I could get hold of some of the books for my guest. Without hesitating he supported me to call the different bookstores in town and when I finally found two of them he instantly arranged for a driver to take me over to the store. The guest was totally blown away by my gesture and today he is a very loyal guest to the Ritz-Carlton, thanks to such a small but genuine act on my part and the great support I received from my management team and colleagues.
This memory, I am always carrying it with me to remind me of the importance of a supportive management team to keep the motivation and creativity of a team to a maximum. Also it reminds me that it is the small things that count. You don’t have to spend a great amount of money to WOW your guest; normally it is the personalized service and the genuine care that creates magical memories.
Recently I have been very troubled with how comfortable fellow hoteliers are in saying NO, both to internal and external guests. I have always been under the impression that the first thing you learn in hotel school or when starting your career within the hospitality industry is to say YES. The word NO should not even exist in our vocabulary. I can agree that we should all acknowledge our limitations but not before trying to find a solution first. And there is only one NO that is accepted; there is NO excuse.
So what can we do in our management teams to support our associates in thinking outside the box and give them that extra push to create exceptional guest service?
One important thing is training. Train your associates, give them all the tools they need to be the best they can be. A well trained associate will not only perform at a greater level but s/he will also be more comfortable in making decisions outside their regular field of work. Cross training is another thing that I believe in very strongly. Giving associates a chance to work in another department will increase teamwork and promote a greater understanding of the hotel operations.
Lead by example, how can you expect your associates to think outside the box and deliver exceptional service if you as a manager or supervisor doesn’t? If you’re new in your position, like me, why not tell them about previous experiences you had? Why not share with your team what you have done or witnessed in previous properties? It will both motivate them and build stronger trust and respect between you.
Support, I will say it over and over again. Support every little effort your team makes in trying to do something out of the ordinary to WOW a guest. And show this openly to other managers and members of the team. Recognize their effort and give them the credit and praise that they deserve.
From now on I am not accepting a NO. We all have to make the effort to encourage our teams to say Yes, yes, yes. The competition within our industry is growing stronger and stronger and we have to distinguish ourselves by going that extra step to create loyal guests who come back time and time-again.
Support creativity, lead by example and say Yes, yes yes.