Hotel Online Special Report


Hotel Common Sense
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Building Customer Loyalty Means
Keeping the Business You Have

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by John Hogan, MBA CHA MHS, June 2004
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"There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over."
Jack Bergman

In every size hotel operation, there are great potential and real opportunities for effective sales activity. The product and service level must be more than "minimum standard", but with the basics in place, there is a substantial amount of business that can be identified and captured at little to reasonable cost.

First of all, we have all experienced that it is much easier to "keep" an existing customer/guest than to find a new one. Therefore, it is logical to recognize the value of keeping the business you already have. Repeat business is the foundation of both short and long term success in the hospitality/service industry. Today's guest (whether a first time guest who could become a repeat customer or an existing regular) must feel a sincere sense of welcome. 

Take the time to regularly meet with your staff (the front desk team, the person who sets up continental breakfast, and all of your guest contact team) to review and evaluate the services and amenities you now offer. These could include free coffee in the morning, personal attentiveness, a welcome packet of local information, a personal "thank you and welcome" note from the general manager, and much more.

Then discuss what your team might be able to add to make your hotel clearly different and more inviting than the competition. We all know how one chain used to include warm cookies and cold milk with turndown service. 

Turndown service is not universal with all hotels (whether they are 2, 3 or 4 stars or diamonds), but offering fresh fruit, candy, easily produced home-made type cookies (from companies like Otis Spunkmeyer), fragrant, tasty popcorn and other ideas unique to your neighborhood can make your hotel much more appealing. 

Guests do not necessarily know the best restaurants, movie theaters, or malls in the area. Easily accessible and available information on these and all of your community's offerings can bring a smile to a business or leisure traveler who is looking for that home town flavor. Your staff personalizing your hotel's personality and commitment to their guests reinforces the idea of encouraging guests to return to your hotel because they were made to feel welcome and special.


Think Tank 
Questions of the day

These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business. There is not necessarily only one "correct" answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations. Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!

Topic 

  • Can you name at least three things that differentiate your hotel from your primary competitors? If not three, can you name two?
  • Do you try to build occupancy and profitability primarily by rate setting or by an assortment of tactics that include customer service and revenue management?
  • Given what you know about your own market, would you honestly select your hotel or one of your competitors if you were coming into your area? Why?
  • If your hotel participates in a loyalty program, how easy is it for your guests to earn the credit or points they deserve?
Contact me at 602-957-5810 or John.Hogan@bestwestern.com anytime and remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication or of Best Western International.

John Hogan, MBA CHA MHS is the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain.  Best Western International has more than 4,200 hotels in more than 80 countries and is one of the worlds most established and recognized hotel brands, founded in 1946 in California.

He serves on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committee and is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from the University of Northern Washington. His professional experience includes over 30 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis. He is a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), a Master Hotel Supplier (MHS) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism. He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor for 20 years, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents hotels.  Prior to joining Best Western International in spring of 2000, he was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness. He has conducted an estimated 3,000 workshops and seminars in his career to date.

He has published more than 175 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available on from HSMAI www.hsmai.org and other industry sources. 

He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing work on his Ph. D. which includes a 2nd book – The Top 100 People who Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

Contact:

John J. Hogan, MBA CHA MHS
Director, Education & Cultural Diversity 
Best Western International
THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN ®

6201 N. 24th Parkway, 
Phoenix, AZ 85016-2023 
Phone 602-957-5810; fax 602-957-5815
john.hogan@bestwestern.com



"...we all need a regular dose of common sense "

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