Recently published on the Hotel Business Review , our CEO RJ Friedlander discusses the importance of using Guest Intelligence to empower your team and create a guest-centric culture.
Hoteliers can gather endless amounts of data from analytical tools but the real challenge is knowing what to do with it. Today, savvy hoteliers are using Guest Intelligence to motivate each department and get the most out of individual teams to improve overall guest satisfaction and boost revenue. By creating a guest-centric culture, employees at hotels are empowered to make a difference. At the end of the day, your employees are representatives of your brand and those responsible for offering remarkable guest service.
Guest Intelligence is the in-depth analysis of online reviews and guest satisfaction survey data, including both during and post stay surveys, to provide detailed insight into what guests like and dislike about their stay, and determine how to improve hotel service. To stay competitive, the key is to focus on overall reputation improvement starting on property.
As a hotel, the guest experience and opinion should play a fundamental part in the overall strategy of your company. Guest feedback is invaluable to all members of your team as it allows you to make operational and service improvements.
From staff recruitment and training to sales and marketing messages to investments in new services or upgrades, Guest Intelligence is relevant for everyone at your hotel. By drilling down to a departmental level and attaining the right data for the right people, the improvements you make will lead to higher guest satisfaction, guest loyalty and a higher volume of online reviews.
Your team will feel motivated if they know their effort and hard work is making a difference on a larger scale. Hotels can start with a few small steps to create a guest focused internal culture amongst employees. Start by sharing feedback with the whole team, not just management. Your kitchen staff are the people serving the coffee in the morning, your housekeepers are those who make sure a room is ready for a new guest. These are the people that can make a difference between a good and bad review and in turn, directly influence your online reputation.
A perfect example of a brand using Guest Intelligence to empower its team is The Library Hotel Collection. Each of the group’s six luxury hotels has its own distinctive personality and charm and the brand has become synonymous with providing an exceptional experience for every traveler. The group’s four New York hotels have occupied the top ten rankings of over 400 hotels in the city on TripAdvisor for almost 10 years as a result of an internal culture focused on outstanding guest satisfaction. The company believes that every time you make a guest truly feel cared for, respected and appreciated, you create an opportunity for another positive review. These results begin with the staff, where they are made to feel motivated as a result of positive feedback.
Library Hotel Collection believes that “service is marketing” and I couldn’t agree more. This leading brand uses detailed insights from Guest Intelligence to earn more positive reviews online. By identifying areas for improvement, the organization is able to give staff the necessary training and guidance to enhance the guest experience.
Employees take pride in their work and when they receive positive feedback from guests it encourages them do well. Library Hotel Collection makes sure all staff understand their objectives and the relationship between guest happiness and revenue. Being open with your staff and sharing reviews and guest survey feedback with them on a daily basis will empower them to want to make a difference, as proven with the success of Library Hotel Collection.
Use your Guest Intelligence in all areas of your organization. If you have several reviews complaining about breakfast, feed this back to the kitchen staff and implement an action plan to fix it. If you have reviews praising the cleanliness of rooms, then praise housekeeping to motivate them to do even better. Drilling down on specifics allows you to start at the root of the problem.
Introduce incentives and reward staff for positive mentions in reviews or in guest surveys. Use a semantic analysis tool in order to understand specifically what the key trends are from the reviews that are being written by your guests. Understand quickly whether improvements you have made to your WIFI are now being recognized by your guests. Use such a tool in order to prioritize key product and operational changes within your hotel or group and make a business case for investment in the future. In team meetings, highlight positives, discuss how you can work on negatives and implement strategies for overall improvement at departmental levels.
Most importantly, act on the feedback! You can analyze data all day long but hoteliers must turn this insight into action to improve the overall guest experience. Let’s take Jurys Inn as another example. This prominent UK brand operates more than 30 hotels in the UK and Ireland. The company decided to completely overhaul its guest feedback program and have achieved outstanding results.
Jurys Inn created a “Happy Guest Program” internally to increase employee engagement, implementing process changes across the organization. For example, the company switched to a shorter, more dynamic guest survey, which generated higher completion rates. They also took a new approach to collecting guests’ email addresses, ensuring that staff understood the importance and offered incentives amongst teams to improve results.
The key to benefitting from Guest Intelligence is to involve your team at all levels. Jurys Inn involves all staff in the quality control process which has resulted in a successful guest-centric culture throughout the organization. The company uses a ticketing system to assign specific tasks to the relevant person in the organization to make sure that any issues identified are resolved as quickly as possible. It is important to ensure the right people receive the right data which is why Jurys Inn decided to implement this system across all properties.
Another important step in using guest data to motivate your team is to set clear goals and objectives. To help staff focus on service excellence, Jurys Inn makes sure objectives are directly linked to bonuses and KPIs. Management drills down on key department indexes in its Online Reputation Management tool to feedback to the team.
The group also introduced an initiative called “word on the street” where a poster is placed in the back of the house for all staff to see, displaying review scores and guest survey scores alongside examples of guest feedback. This casual approach to sharing Guest Feedback with the team resulted in positive results across all properties.
Another iconic brand that is successfully using Guest Intelligence to empower its employees is citizenM. This innovative hotel chain are massive advocates of involving everyone in the business to exceed guest expectations and create unique experiences. It has spent several years creating an internal culture where they use guest insight to empower the team to achieve the best results.
citizenM hotel staff are called “ambassadors” within the organization and they have a process in place where each ambassador asks a guest how they enjoyed their stay as the guest checks out. Seems like a given right? But you’d be surprised at how many hotel employees forget to do this. If there is any sort of issue, the ambassadors are prepared to resolve it quickly. On the other hand, if the guest is happy with their stay, they are encouraged to share their thoughts on TripAdvisor.
Building awareness amongst your employees is crucial to motivating them to do well. If they don’t know how they are performing, how will they be empowered to do better? Like Jurys Inn, citizenM prints out copies of reports from their online reputation management tool in the staff room to allow employees to read at their own leisure.
Internal competitions amongst properties and on a departmental level have been introduced to boost momentum and maximize results. For example, a competition on ‘who can deliver the best service’ using the Global Review IndexTM as a means of measurement. This motivates teams at individual properties to compete against each other to be the “best” department by providing the best possible service.
As a hotelier, it’s hard work to manage multiple departments as well as ensuring your guests are happy. It is your job to make sure the property is performing to the best of its ability. If you haven’t done so already, invest in a Guest Intelligence solution to gain valuable insight from guest feedback, and keep on top of which departments are performing well and which need improvement. This is only the start.
The key to benefitting from your Guest Intelligence is to take action and the best place to start is with your employees. Involve them in the process and let them know what their guests are saying about them. Work as a team to resolve guest problems and praise your staff when they have exceeded guest expectations. Your guests and employees are your most powerful assets so use them to drive success at your property. Use positive experiences to guide future staff training for the best possible outcome, higher guest satisfaction and higher revenue.
Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.hotelexecutive.com