“When I was VP of a hotel collection, I made it my mission to focus on the guest experience so that we could have more guest loyalty, offer a higher perceived value, have higher occupancy, ADR, and profitability. We followed our GRI- Guest Review Index on ReviewPro who recognized us as having a GRI of 96.1(%), the highest of any luxury hotel brand in the industry. We also had the #1 hotel in World and the #1, #2, #3, and #4 ranked hotels in NYC, so I am writing a book on the subject, but here, in a nutshell, is the method in principle, which will work for anyone ready to commit to the effort! It took me 20 years to learn to get this far and I am still learning with input from my associates and inspiring fellow hospitality stars.
MISSION IS QUEEN:
As a team, imagine the kind of reviews you want to receive and be the hotel team that inspires those kinds of reviews! Be true to the mission and let it guide all your actions and decisions.
Share an inspiring vision of hospitality with your team. Every traveller wants and deserves to be treated like a VIP when they travel. You don’t need to throw a parade for them, just sparkle a little sunshine on them to lift them up and make them feel welcome.
Make every guest feel CARE: Cared for, Appreciated, and Respected at Every encounter.
INVITE and INCLUDE:
Ask your team to join you on a mission of caring, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Strive to hire people whose eyes light up at the mission, vision, and values of the company. Then, keep talking about the mission and how to apply it to their everyday actions during the daily huddles. Inspire them, tell stories of great hospitality and empower them with freedom from fear to do what they feel is right for guests, within reasonable parameters. Ask them every day to let you know what support they need from you to be more successful at making guests happy.
Owners, GMs, DOSMs, and all department leaders – It is time to face the truth about your experience and read your reviews every day. Not some end-of-the-month semantic analysis. For success, you need to feel the pain in your guests’ and employees’ voices to put your heart fully in the game, and you need to look at the complaints with equanimity in context to be able to serenely ask the right questions when looking for root causes and opportunities to modify/ iterate your communications, processes, mindsets, systems, and products. Remember it is never the employees’ fault. It was our job to give them the tools, skills, training, and inspiration to do the right thing, and we hired them, so don’t blame the staff or make them feel fear. That’s counterproductive. Just work together with them to find better options to try next time.
Find ways to double up on what people love, and make sure every guest has a VIP experience. You won’t get 5-Star reviews from “transactional” treatment that is merely “Polite and Professional”. People want to be wowed! “Wow” experiences come from generosity. “Sparkle sunshine” on the guest at every touchpoint. Keeping the Mission, vision, and values in mind, keep micro-innovating (tweaking) the guest journey every day.
Collaborate with your team to find the root causes of issues when they come up in reviews and find ways to innovate the guest experience to eliminate or at least reduce the friction point. What kills the joy of your guests is also killing the energy of your team. If you want to keep your guests and employees loyal, don’t just focus on the person in front of you. Leaders work with their teams to plan how to eliminate or diminish the friction point for every guest in the future.
Mixed reviews are an obstacle to revenue optimization, so follow your NPS, guest review ratings, and rankings on Tripadvisor right along with your financial KPIs on your for your monthly P&L meetings. Your scores are a reflection of your operational effectiveness, your culture, and they are a leading indicator of future financial success.
Share your 5-star reviews everywhere your staff can see them! Include your Tripadvisor rankings on your nightly reports and celebrate with your team every step along the journey to your goal of 100% guest satisfaction. No, you’ll never have perfect scores, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying! You’ll never know how far your team can go until you reach for the STARS!”