Monday, March 25, 2013

Hospitality Mindsets #1

by Vassilis Xenoudakis



Why a perfect omelet is very important? 

You better do it perfect because you will get no second chance; the Guest is sharing this with his friends. The truth is that Guest communication is greatly undermined in terms of the impact it has. Traditionally, it is supervised on departmental level as an organic part of each department’s operation. But should Guest communication be regarded like this and what decisions must be taken to change this?

1.  Must become a leader

Initiate communication, create communication leads and follow up on them. The basic element that distinguishes a hotel from a serviced apartment and allows for charging a premium is human interaction /communication. 

 2.  Must have Guest centric communication and services.

Along with the advancement of technology human communication has been altered in character and communication channels have been enriched. After the introduction of information technology (internet, portable computers, network integration, etc) communication channels are targeted and so frequently utilized that endorsing them in the hotel services is becoming more or equally important to the use of the Guest’s mother language. A good example is that it is not anymore enough to offer a newspaper in the morning, but whichever newspaper the Guest likes, in whatever format, on whatever platform, application or even what part of it is to his/her interest.

3.  Must want to research, be curious.

Usually the only time that a service has been properly researched and introduced in a hotel is on drawing board / during its feasibility study. Even though there is a wealth of information hidden in the “everyday” operation hotels fail to utilize them and only respond to competition. The main reason is that small-medium hotels cannot afford the resources.  I will draw an example from my experience in Greece, a major drawback dominating the Greek hospitality industry. The Property Management Systems (PMS) that are used by the hotels in Greece are either very basic packages with basic functionality or primitive in relation to collection and representation of data generated during a stay.
4.  Must admit that enough is not enough.

This applies to the misleading notion that the Guest experience derives from the wealth and not the quality of services. Guests are highly knowledgeable reviewers and standards are the minimum requirement for them, not the higher performance to be achieved. Therefore, achieving them does not make a hotel “the best” or even “good” in providing value. Conception of value is becoming more multi-influnced and includes time and marketing communications (projected services). My interpretation of value of stay would be:
Value  =           Experiences gained + services consumed
                  Resources dedicated (time + money) x projected services
5.  Must accept that there are many stakeholders.

Everything produced is a result of processing inputs from the environment.  Competition, Guests, suppliers, friends, visitors, communities, media, etc., everybody contribute with their own way to the final tourism product. Those are your stakeholders therefore they have interest in learning how you operate, your culture, success stories or even shortcomings.

This is just the icing of the cake and my empirical approach to a very wide subject based on my experience in Guest Relations and hospitality. Notwithstanding, it is very unfortunate to realize that in Greece this crucial role is handed irresponsibly to entry-level employees or people without hospitality background, as it is regarded that this function does not require “operational experience”.

There are many more points to make regarding the emerging need for strategic management of Guest communication and the information generated from it in hospitality. Certainly, there is no right or wrong answer and I encourage you to respond to this post and add your crumb of knowledge and opinion.

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