How to Work Smarter in the Hospitality Business

Any business that has customers is in the people-business, especially hospitality. In the hospitality sector, where sensitivity to customer reviews is extremely high, all departments are constantly over-worked. This is also because, hospitality is susceptible to immediate and, sometimes, harsh feedback.

ANY BUSINESS that has customers is in the people-business. Especially hospitality. And in the hospitality sector, where sensitivity to customer reviews is extremely high, all departments are constantly over-worked. It is also because, hospitality is susceptible to immediate and, sometimes, harsh feedback.

Every department in a hotel / restaurant business has near to direct contact with end users. Be it the marketing department, customer support, operations or sales, everyone is constantly involved in tracking some aspect of customer experience, satisfaction or both.

With everyone in your organisation always on their toes while talking to customers, it is only natural that not everyone has a holistic picture of the game - especially not you. Working hard or overtime does not necessarily translate to “smart” working. Here are some ways in which you can optimise on your and your team’s precious time -

One way to look at a hotel business and its departments is drawing an analog to a large family. Imagine there is a wedding in the family, and the chaos that ensues. Every group (parents, cousins, designers, caterers) wants the best for the couple, but seldom do they move in synchronisation. While the wedding is a onetime event (for most people, atleast), your company cannot afford to remain in this chaos for extended periods of time. Then how come it does?
The essence is to communicate better. Every time you get a new review on, say, TripAdvisor that needs to be taken care of immediately, make sure the concerned department is instantly notified. You wouldn’t want them to open 10 different OTA pages looking for reviews, right? Similarly, if the marketing team needs to keep the operations head in the loop, have them communicate over direct chat than having endless meetings. Meetings take up everyone’s time, and result in little to no good.

One thing I have noticed while working with various hotel chains, is that they have too many people wanting to (and need to) partake in the same customer-driven decisions. However, too many cooks spoil the broth. What you must focus on is a seamless collaboration of all recommended parties. If there is a Facebook post that needs replying to, it should not just be your marketing team handling it. The customer support department has data on whether the same user had sent in a feedback email / call. The operations department may have a feedback form filled by the guest at the time of checkout. All this data sits in silos, and rarely ever comes together. A seamless integration would mean, using an automated solution to pull up the customer’s data, and have your entire team collaborate and decide what the reply should be. Taking in everyone’s inputs should be easy, and not a cumbersome process involving many calls, meetings, and emails.

You are not working smart enough till you can track how your customers interact with your business and what they say. If you concentrate on replying to every customer with a template response, and admonish your team every time they falter, to make sure you have a set of satisfied customers, then you will have just that - a set of satisfied customers keeping your brand’s online ratings barely floating above the benchmark. But how do you get substantially better? How do you wow your customers, so much so that they go out and recommend your brand to friends and family? By regularly tracking where you are going wrong with your level of service quality. The key to increasing your ratings and brand recognition is to significantly improve Customer Experience, and to do that you must monitor patterns and trends in your customers’ opinions and behaviours. Use a solution that tells you the minutest details by understanding customer data. For example, did you know that your ratings for ‘room quality’ is going low on Mondays between 3:00pm to 10:00pm since the last 5 weeks, in your hotels in north of the country?

Monitor, analyse, act, review, repeat. With an organisation as big as a hotel chain, it is very important to always review your performance as a brand and on a department level as well. Find out how each department performed in the last 2 weeks, whether your customers repeatedly mentioned a particular staff member for his / her exemplary hospitality, how did you do on aspects like ‘WiFi’, ‘toilets’, ‘sleep quality’, and absolutely anything else that is important for your business. There are tools you can use to find answers to those questions in a matter of seconds, Survaider (a customer experience measurement platform) is by far the most advanced software in this endeavour.

It isn’t just a matter of maintaining a level of service quality, but benchmarking and improving upon your own strengths and weaknesses. Maintenance requires long hours of overtime work, an over-worked team, and frustrated meetings. Working smartly by timely performance reviews, communicating better, collaborating and tracking your efforts, is what is going to differentiate you from your competitors in this very competitive and real-time world.

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