By: Tommy Beyer
You have heard this said before, but why is it so hard to remember and even harder to pay attention to all the minutia that buzzes past your desk every day? Hospitality will always be an industry built on people and personal relationships, so taking the time to connect with your team on a daily basis may appear as an inefficient use of your time, but it will inevitably prove to have a tremendous impact.
On the guest-facing side, the little things also become important insofar as differentiating your property from the competition. For instance, tweaking the verbiage that your front desk associates use and retraining your team to understand the significance of this change can have a substantial influence on customer satisfaction scores. The devil is in the details as they say, for which there are a few key ways that you harness the power of the little things to improve your hotel’s business.
You may refer to them as customers, clients or guests. In each case, they are the people who are responsible for paying the bills. Think about the last time someone in the service industry called you by your name and then remembered it during a later interaction and continued to refer to you by your name. This is seemingly a little thing, but it will set you apart. Furthermore, at the luxury end this is almost always standard practice, yet why can’t it be ubiquitous for the entire industry?
Building on this simple name trick, the next time some guests check into your hotel, would you prefer your front desk agent ask them if they are checking in or would you prefer them to take the time to ask how they can be of assistance? This is a small change I witnessed at the properties I’ve helped manage that can lead to much higher guest scores. Similarly, rather than asking guests how their stays were during the checkout process, why not ask them how we can improve their experiences in the future?
In hospitality nowadays, we have access to innumerous pieces of data regarding a guest’s history both at the hotel and with the brand. Too often hotel team members do not pay much attention to this, though. Instead of disregarding the information at your fingertips, why not take the time to dig into it and work on ways to engage with the guest on a deeper level. Under the buzz term of personalization, senior executives can and should utilize this information to tailor their stays based on the preferences selected by the guest, even if these are very small tweaks like have extra pillows and towels in the room prior to arrival or the room temperature preset to a given level.
While the next set of customers do not pay the bills, they are nonetheless the engine. Without internal customers, there would be no one to take care of the external customers. Maintaining a focus on the details between the internal customers will certainly lead to better associate opinion scores, lower turnover and improved profits. Truly a win-win-win situation, particularly in regard to talent retention with today’s inelastic labor pools.
As a personal example, when I was a young general manager at the age of 22, I had an assistant executive housekeeper walk into my office one day. I asked her how she was doing and how could I help her. Weary from constantly running around, this simple show of empathy brightened her afternoon immensely. She had approached my office with the underlying intent of getting me to focus on a little thing which ultimately meant the world to her, and she was sure to tell me how much this mattered as well. The lesson instilled, from that day on I was sure to engage with my team first and to show them that I care by asking and remembering what was important to my colleagues.
To build upon this, you should know when all of your team members’ birthdays are. Take the time to send them a card, email or a gift to let them know that you care. My mentor is great about writing handwritten notes to his team during random moments and during annual meetings. He takes the time to send these to us and it means a lot. Is he giving us thousands of dollars? No. But he is taking the time to pay attention to the details and that is what truly matters.
Tommy Beyer has a degree in hospitality management from the University of South Carolina. He has also completed the PDP Program at Cornell and is a Certified Hospitality Administrator from AH&LEF. For over a decade, he’s been a vital component of Newport Hospitality Group’s success, progressing from Front Desk Associate to General Manager and finally to his current role as Vice President of Regional Operations. Tommy’s keen understanding of the financial intricacies of each property have helped him to not only drive asset value for the properties he manages but also to win many prestigious awards including the Top 30 Under 30 by Hotel Management, the Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year by AH&LA and Georgia GM of the Year.