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Putting the “Hospitality” Back in the Hospitality Industry

 
by Brenda Fields, May 21, 2007

What other industry is so directly involved with serving its customers in many significant areas to their well being? Food, drink, and sleep are three of the most important needs of an individual. But just meeting these needs does not ensure a successful operation or client loyalty. Nor does it ensure that the customer’s needs were met with good service in a hospitable manner.

As an industry, we discuss “service” and more often than not, rely on the integrity and good nature of the employees to deliver the required service(s). Many of the large companies provide service standards on everything from how to answer the front desk phone to when to replace the soap in a guest room. Service and hospitality go hand in hand but are actually two different concepts. “Service” can be defined as the “act” of providing a service, whereas “hospitality” is the “cordial attitude” of the person providing the service. It’s the difference between a pianist who hits all the notes with impeccable timing and one who evokes feeling with his playing. How many times have we tried to resolve credit card disputes, question telephone charges, or return merchandise, just to feel that the customer service person did not hear our legitimate perspective and was inflexible in their positions? We are thankful when we deal with a representative who not only works to resolve our problems, but does so in a helpful and kind way.

This article will address the opportunity and benefit for the hospitality industry to be the leader in providing hospitality and setting standards for other industries to emulate.

What is “hospitality”?

According to two dictionary definitions, hospitality is: “Cordial reception. Kindness in welcoming guests or strangers” and the act of being” friendly and solicitous towards guests”.

When a customer refers to “Great Service”, it is service which is delivered by a person who is warm and caring or in other words one who is hospitable. What better industry to lead the way in service and hospitality as the “hospitality” industry? Hospitality should actually be the industry’s most natural strength.  A dedication to this on every level will set the hospitality industry apart from other industries and foster profitability. Service + Hospitality = GREAT SERVICE. 

Listed below are just some of the benefits to owners and managers to take on the leadership role of “hospitality”:

Attract better employees.

As labor is one of the largest expenses of a hotel operation, hiring the best staff and reducing turnover is important to positively impact the bottom line. Not only does the guest benefit from a warm, caring staff, but owners and managers do as well as they tend to be easy to work with. Who wouldn’t enjoy a meal served by a person who was warm and attentive and made you feel that he or she truly wanted you to enjoy the entire experience? Chances are that you would return to the restaurant over and over if you were recognized and felt truly appreciated. Therefore, when hiring staff with direct customer contact, look for that warm, caring attitude on the first meeting. If it’s not there, it is unlikely that training will create it. Hospitality is the element that will create guest loyalty despite service lapses, product deficiencies, or minor inconveniences. Hospitable staff will seek out industries and companies that foster and encourage their helpful attitudes.

Build occupancy.

One of the most cost effective ways to increase or maintain business is to provide great service with hospitable, caring staff. It costs the same to hire someone with a great attitude as to hire someone who just performs their responsibilities on the most basic level. 

In fact, one of the greatest competitive advantages of independent hotels is the service aspect. Without some restraints imposed by the bigger hotels companies, the independents can encourage their employees to truly go above and beyond, to ensure guest satisfaction and guest loyalty.

Hiring warm and service-oriented people is the number one ingredient. Without that, no amount of training or service standards will result in the desired result i.e. offering guests a truly great experience. No one is fooled by unsympathetic and uncaring staff, even if all the right notes are hit. It’s really the spirit of the employees that will transcend product deficiencies, competitive disadvantages, and marketing exposure. The same amount of money is spent on a caring employee as an uncaring employee, so why not go for the gold?

As a result, guests will return over and over, without additional expenses incurred by the owner or manager to attract the business. Marketing expenses will be fully exploited to attract new business, which will quickly become repeat business and the cycle continues. 

Improve average rates.

Great service can also help overcome rate resistance and insures that the customer perceives a fair price/value ratio of the product. A “can-do”, caring attitude of the staff will most likely add perceived value to a property. A five-star property with all of the five-star attributes, but lacks exceptional service, will most likely be perceived as priced too high. If a five-star restaurant charged $50.00 for Dover Sole, but great service was not there, the restaurant would be hard pressed to maintain customers willing to pay that amount. Conversely, a limited service property that provides great hospitality will be in a stronger position to gain business from its competitive set. So, whether the property is five-star or limited service, great service has a value to its guests and will translate to improved average rates.

Therefore, whether you are an independent property or CEO of a large chain, why not lead the way and devote the time and resources to put the “hospitality” back in the hospitality industry and enjoy the positive financial results as well as the satisfaction that the hospitality industry is leading the way and setting the standards for other industries to emulate.



About Fields and Company:

Fields and Company, founded by Brenda Fields, provides in-depth analyses and cost effective sales and marketing solutions to help owners and managers achieve their revenue goals. Systems and procedures are devised and implemented to monitor results and to ensure staff accountability, resulting in success despite market conditions. We work on individual projects or provide on-going involvement and expertise on a retained basis.

Contact Brenda Fields at brenda@fieldsandcompany.net or phone 518 789 0117 in the USA, www.fieldsandcompany.net.


 
Contact:
.
Fields and Company
1011 Smithfield Road
Millerton, NY 12546
Phone: 518 789 0117
Fax: 518 789 0118
brenda@fieldsandcompany.net
www.fieldsandcompany.net

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Also See: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hotel Sales People / Brenda Fields / March 2007
It’s 2007. Do You Know Where Your Hotel Sales People Are? / Brenda Fields / January 2007
Outsourcing: A Prime Example of “The Sum of the Parts is Greater than the Whole” / Brenda Fields / December 2006
What Women (Really) Want; Identifying the Unique Needs of the Woman Business Traveler / Brenda Fields / August 2006
Sales Incentive Plans: Hotel Owner's Friend or Foe? / Brenda Fields / May 2006 
Creating Results: Strategy vs. Knee-Jerk Reactions / Brenda Fields / January 2006
Advertising: How to Create Award Winning Ads (Yes, Even on a Budget) / Brenda Fields / September 2005
A Primer’s Guide to Understanding and Maximizing Your Hotel Web Site / Brenda Fields and Michael Parkes / January 2005
David and Goliath: How Independent Hotels Can Successfully Compete with the Large Chains / Brenda Fields / October 2004
Catering Sales in Boutique Hotels: How to Maximize Revenues and Optimize Sales Productivity / Brenda Fields / July 2004
The New Market Segmentation and Pricing Model for Independent Hotels / Brenda Fields / May 2004
Boutique Hotels: Rethinking the Fundamentals in a New Business Environment / Brenda Fields / February 2004
Room Configuration - Are Your Rooms Configured for the Best and Highest Use? / Brenda Fields / January 2004
Direct Sales - What to Expect from Your Hotel Sales People and How to Get Results / Brenda Fields / August 2003
Boutique Hotels: How to Survive in a Down Market - Getting Back to Basics / Brenda Fields / May 2003
Industry Marketing Pro Brenda Fields Opens Consultancy Focusing on Independent Properties / January 2003


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