Systems for Success: How a Hawaii Hotel Ensures Excellence

Recently, we reviewed the story of The Modern Honolulu – a luxury boutique hotel that led a dramatic turnaround through repositioning. But after the initial changes were made, how has this property been able to consistently offer superior service?


Maybe that word strikes you as boring. Rote. Mechanical. Removing the “human” element of personality that defines true hospitality for many of us. But well-designed systems and processes don’t turn staff into robots. Rather, great systems simply set a framework for routine tasks so that each staff member at the hotel is freed up to think about what matters most – guest interactions.

Michael Gerber – one of the leading minds on business development – wrote about this topic extensively in his book The E-Myth. Providing remarkable service is a powerful way to make an impression and generate word of mouth, but if that level of service isn’t offered on the next visit or to the next guest, then disappointment sets in and loyalty is lost.

The way to grow any business – especially one with potentially high turnover such as the hospitality industry – is to define expectations for staff, then create repeatable supporting processes and procedures so guests experience consistent excellence from them.

Let’s go back to Honolulu for a moment to learn more from The Modern.

Systems for Success

“We take a systems approach,” consultant Alan Rainey explains, referring to the system as the feedback loop. “We define and execute standards, check with customers, and take corrective action where necessary to redesign the system so that the root cause is eliminated. Why solve a problem that can be avoided?”

Optimizing Key Touchpoints

The arrival experience is critical, Rainey continues. “If people are disappointed upon arrival, they may become ‘negatively conditioned’ when receiving subsequent service. So we spend a lot of time working on the arrival experience, trying to perfect it so that everything goes smoothly from the beginning.”

It’s about the little details.

When the Managing Director introduced an arrival experience that includes a welcome drink and cold compress towel, Rainey wasn’t sure it would have an impact on guests. “But now I see that guests read about it on TripAdvisor and are disappointed if they don’t receive it,” he says. “Through reviews, it has become part of our brand arrival experience.” The system has since been redesigned to ensure that 100% of check-ins receive the full arrival experience. Consistency.

Monitoring “Tripwires”

As the result of training, the hotel’s staff has also now learned to identify early warning signs of guest dissatisfaction.

“When these ‘tripwires’ are crossed, we immediately get recovery in motion,” says Rainey. “The trick is to teach staff to recognize the tripwires and react before it escalates. If a guest is craning her neck and looking around, she wants something. Staff must see this and jump in, not say ‘That’s not my job’.”

Success in hotels today is part culture, part systems – and when these are combined, it becomes incredibly powerful for ensuring consistent excellence.

ReviewPro works closely with clients to ensure they have the right processes and systems in place to not only measure and track guest satisfaction, but continually optimize the guest experience.