Ten ways to reach 5,000+ potential customers for under $500| HospitalityEducators.com Tip of the Week

Over the last several years, I have shared ideas in columns that have  addressed the guest experience and delivering service.  These columns have generated a high level of reader interest and a future article will recap of some of their comments on impressions of service levels, customer expectations and service codes.

An underlying theme in these columns is the ongoing need for all of us to retain the “high touch” personality that is the heart in hospitality.  Technology is an important ingredient in the guest experience, but it is not the reason guests list when sharing why they make the decision to return to a hotel or to demonstrate loyalty.

Time for reflection

If you think back on your career, a major step was when you were entitled to your first business card.  That “entitlement” was sort of a rite of passage – a sign of having “made it.”  Chances are that you gave that card to as many people as you could – at least for a while.  As time wore on, you did not have to re-print as many as the first year.  Other things took priority. Technology took more of our time and communication focus.

Many successful people continue to re-order their cards regularly, as they find that business cards are one of the most under-utilized sales tools in the hospitality industry by many people.

Today, successful hoteliers, sales managers, general managers and owners value this low-cost, easy-to-carry, easy-to distribute sales piece as one of their most valuable tools. Prior to the late 1990s, most business cards were fairly basic – name, title, company name and address, phone number and perhaps the company slogan or motto.  Today’s cards contain much more information

  • the above basics
  • proper brand identity if you belong to a referral group or franchise
  • email and web-site address
  • social media information
  • cell or home number if you have the kind of position or personality that is service sensitive enough to warrant the kind of commitments that tell existing and POTENTIAL customers that you care MORE than your competition.  (Yes, I have a bias here regarding service.)

Today’s cards may be a dual or a tri-fold in design, listing

  • your property’s facilities in some detail, such as number and types of accommodations
  • banquet or meeting capacity
  • special services, such as saunas or spas, casinos or recreational facilities
  • amenities such as managers’ receptions or continental breakfast

Some include detailed maps from nearby interstate highways and others feature four-color photographs of the hotel or perhaps the view from the hotel’s front door.  The decision is yours on content, but your local printer, hotel association or franchise director can give you a wealth of options that have been successful for others.

After the cards are printed, what is next? The next is the fun AND critical part of using them effectively: distribution.

Following are some ideas we have seen used at hotels throughout the world:

  1. As an introduction to almost everyone you meet for the first time  – one never knows when they might need lodging/meeting/food services in your area
  2. In all correspondence – even with technology, everyone has some kind of card case or the option to paste the info into their computer from your card
  3. In all billing – a thank you on the back of your card can have great goodwill!
  4. In all payments – your suppliers also need edging/meeting/food services in your area at some point. We must all learn to regularly ASK FOR THE SALE!
  5. At all industry and business meetings – we all need to network
  6. In your restaurant – if you meet and greet guests (as either the GM, sales manager or restaurant manager). Let them know you care about them
  7. At check-in/out – A rack at the desk works for some hotels, but a sales manager or GM personally thanking EXISTING guests at checkout and asking them to return impresses many travelers.  Giving business cards is a reminder of the experience that they might relate to others back home. This is great referral potential and a way to build guest loyalty.
  8. For complimentary or discounting purposes when appropriate
  9. With all sales and marketing promotional pieces – put a name with the hotel and finally
  10. As a thank-you; a personal note is just that – a time taking, individualized sign of appreciation.

Business cards today can cost as little as five cents each.  Giving 20 out per business day equals roughly 100 per week, 450 per month and 5,400 per year. Can you think of any other personally delivered message that exists for under $500 a year?

              “In sales, you must make the customer remember you”                                            Victor Kiam, former owner, New England Patriots,  Former CEO, Remington Shavers

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:

Focus on Operations & Profitability Recognize that supporting and offering English as a 2nd Language is an investment, not an expense for many areas in the hotel. It helps everyone to improve communication, to feel more involved and that the person learning English is cared about as an individual by the employer.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at  John@hoganhospitality.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements …………. And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.  602-799-5375 

As Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry, I invite readers to visit our site that offers a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Sales Management and training
  2. Turn-around and revenue management
  3. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  4. Customer Service
  5. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  6. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  7. Medical Lodging Consulting

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.

www.HoganHospitality.com Your Hospitality Resource for Hotel Owners, Innkeepers, Managers and Associations

It’s All in the Details…

Earlier this summer, I shared some “Best Practices on Engaging the “high-touch” Side of Our Business” in my blog. I summarized feedback from attendees in a series of workshops I conducted for a major international hotel company that addressed the danger of becoming a “Commodity.”

This article/blog kicks off a related topic:

Question:  How do we motivate our hospitality staff to care every day, to build and maintain a commitment to delivering quality??

Answer: In surprisingly small ways.

It’s All in the Details…

I am certainly not the first person to have written on the topic, and there have been others who have used the unusual example I am about to offer as an illustration of the most fundamental area of any hotel or restaurant.

Almost every guest uses this essential area of every hospitality business, as well as a good number of first time visitors who “drop by.”  The hospitality business may be an elegant five star hotel, a country inn, a hometown diner or an ethnic restaurant but they all have this space in common.

I am referring of course to the “public restrooms.”  I have included some examples of outstanding ones at the end of this message, but I challenge everyone in any hospitality business to take a moment and think about the first impression made when someone enters a portion of your facility that is open to all visitors.

Think about the human senses

1.       Sight – is your space inviting and clean? This means pleasant lighting, neatly arranged facilities, wall treatment that is pleasant to look at and of course, a very clean floor with no paper on it.  Fresh flowers or live plants can be a positive.

2.       Touch – as in #1 Sight above, the space must be inviting.  There must be well maintained sinks, clean and well lit mirrors, attractive dispensers holding adequate towels and toilet tissue,

3.       Sound – Public rest rooms must be reasonably constructed and designed to block out  external sounds, as well as contain the sounds of plumbing and discussions in the facility. Some properties today include appropriate and pleasing piped in music that create an  additional positive calming effect

4.       Smell – the fragrance discussion in hospitality is not new.  Care must be taken in cleaning products used, and there are packaged scents available that can be subtly present in the public rest rooms.

Some sample “best of” in this category may be found at www.hospitalityeducators.com under America’s Best Public Bathrooms http://www.hospitalityeducators.com/articles/20100930_1

Feel free to share an idea for a column at info@hoganhospitality.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.

www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.

Professional Development for You Means Lending a Hand to Someone Else Along the Way

The title of this column says it all – working to help others succeed will help us as individuals to move forward on our own professional development.

Each of us has our own goals and dreams.   Some of us have done better at visualizing what Stephen Covey called “the end in mind”, and most of us have identified at least some specific goals in our career.  These goals could include a specific title, a position in a certain organization, a financial target or any combination thereof.   Over the years in our career, we have likely achieved some of those goals but we often have failed to continue updating the plan and we become distracted by daily incidentals that have minor and temporary value.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman more than 25 years ago identified a proven way to motivate both managers and their teams.  In Search of Excellence offered many ideas but one in particular had a major impact on me.  I championed that idea as a manager and executive in my operational and consulting career.  I can assure you that if you follow this action step in a positive and professional way, your organization will lower staff mistakes, reduce overall turnover, see a boost in staff morale and an increase in staff suggestions and engagement in their delivery of service.

Public companies communicate regularly with their shareholders in a variety of formats and frequency, but they ALL provide quarterly updates of revenues, profitability and other results.  Monthly would be too often and not meaningful and semi-annually is too infrequent, allowing too much time to pass without a snapshot of results,  Public company reports are delivered quarterly  because there is enough time to see trends, take continuing or corrective action and address the important issues.

In hospitality, successful organizations recognize that it is the overall experience of the guest that builds loyalty, ahead of earned points, free rooms or a complimentary glass of wine.  The main ingredient in delivering that experience is a topic I have covered the last six weeks – it is the commitment to service by the front line staff at your hotel, restaurant or other hospitality business.

I am (again) recommending this action step to every hotel and restaurant general manager and hospitality corporate executive, because I have seen the results when used properly.

  1. Meet with all of your department heads tomorrow and advise them of a new communication process designed to assist them meet their department goals and this will not require any more work for them
  2. Within 12 hours of this meeting with the department heads, announce in a positive manner to all staff that performance reviews will now be conducted for everyone on a regular, quarterly basis.  In this announcement, it needs to be identified that this is a positive step aimed at improving the overall success of every individual on staff, as well as the business.
  3. Beginning no later than 7 days after the meeting with the department heads, the reviews should begin within a planned cycle.

I have heard some of the hesitations to embrace this before and I have found them to be inaccurate and an excuse by many to avoid change.  Listed below are some of those voiced hesitations, with my rebuttal:

  • This activity creates much more work for department heads.

Fact: this does not create more work for department heads, the GM or corporate executives because this new practice is only formalizing discussion and making it more personal with the one-on-one interactions.

  • This will cost the company a lot of money that we don’t have.

Fact: The quarterly discussions do not need to change any of the financial arrangements or practices currently in use, unless you want or find you need to change them.  Annual financial adjustments can remain in place if that is a solid business decision, but what you will find is more honest discussion and the uncovering of problem areas that can often be addressed quickly when known by all.

  • This will take too much time away from our other responsibilities.

Fact:  Hospitality is about service and the guest experience and that is everyone’s responsibility.  If department heads and managers are not interacting with their staff, there is a major problem.

  • This will confuse the staff because we have never done it that way before.

Fact: The first discussion may seem unusual because it represents a change from what was the norm, but our staffs today are well versed in trends in the workforce and have probably heard of more frequent evaluations before.  When the real reason is explained that these quarterly discussions are designed to help everyone beginning now, the apprehension of meeting “with the boss” dissipates quickly and seldom returns.

I first embraced this action step as general manager at a 300-room business class hotel.  The property was showing its age and its off-center location did not provide an automatic referral center.  I can share with you that this action step of improving communication built trust among many long-time staff (with their new general manager) and helped the entire business to outperform the market for two years, even with the property’s physical limitations.

“No matter what the situation, (the great manager’s) first response is always to think about the individual concerned and how things can be arranged to help that individual experience success.” Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know

The problems you are facing today are yours, but the solutions and the means to tackle those problems do not have to be yours alone.

What are you going to do, beginning tomorrow?

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:   Focus on Professional Development

The Guest Experience today is as meaningful as any other factor in guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Housekeeping and engineering teams can contribute in significant ways, including guest contact and interaction.        Take some time for group sharing of ideas and recognition.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2010 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings will focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles and HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS. My segments Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success will be featured at appropriate times in the year as well.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at info@hoganhospitality.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements ………….

And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Sales Management and training
  2. Turn-around and revenue management
  3. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  4. Customer Service
  5. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  6. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  7. Medical Lodging Consultants

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.

www.HoganHospitality.com Your Hospitality Resource for Hotel Owners, Innkeepers, Managers and Associations

One of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced in hospitality

This  series on the “high-touch” side of hospitality has prompted positive reader feedback and ideas from hoteliers and managers who have participated in some of my workshops idea

·         Segment 1 underscored the need for hospitality businesses to deliver unique experience to avoid being viewed as a commodity.

·         Segment 2 focused on identifying ways to encourage hotel staffs to think about the “guest experience” , whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated  It offered concrete examples ways to avoid being seen as ordinary or a “commodity” in the critical guest service of SLEEP

·         Segment 3 examined the essential topic of significant value to hotel guests everywhere: BREAKFAST.

·         Segment 4 generated the most reader feedback, with general agreement that calming “an angry customer” gives hotels the chance to win loyalty be demonstrating sincere concern.

No one is proposing that we want to annoy guests, but  there is agreement that a “satisfied” guest is probably not thinking a hotel is very special and that  an “adequate” stay does not likely build loyalty or repeat visits.  Hotels of today must anticipate problem areas and respond immediately when one arises.  This means that hotel owners and managers must allow and insist that their staffs do whatever it takes to meet the customers’ needs and a  number of individual properties, brands and chains have worked to refine their staff responsiveness to these guest annoyances.

In the last column, I promised I would share one of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced. An unusual and perhaps unexpected fact about this service code is that it premiered almost a century ago by one of the most successful hoteliers of all time.

Elsworth Statler has been described and considered one of the most innovative and creative of hoteliers of all time.  He is credited with many of the practices and construction methods that became industry standards.

It was in Buffalo in 1908 that Elsworth Statler, (born into poverty in a West Virginia mining center during the American Civil War), began paying real attention to details that would become trademarks of his genius.  In a 300-room hotel, he was the first to provide a bathroom in each room, which had been unheard of that time.  Rather than force guests that were strangers to share common baths down the hall, he modified the construction practice to build rooms “back-to-back”.   This practice was then able to use common electrical conduit and plumbing shafts (later known as the Statler plumbing shaft), making the bathroom a basic part of every Statler hotel and within a decade in many of the hotels in the industry.

The Buffalo Statler introduced other innovations that evolved into standards at many hotels, including circulating ice water in every room, which was important in the pre-air conditioning heat in many cities,  telephones in every room, a full size closet in every room, lights in every closet and a hook by the mirror in each bathroom that encouraged guests to reuse their towel, thereby saving laundry costs.

Statler understood success was a combination of operations and marketing.  He was perceptive in paying attention to building revenues and anticipated the expansion of conventions and meetings business.  Guest rooms were not decorated in a “cookie cutter” style, but were with the proper balance of colors and design so that bedspreads, draperies and rugs could be interchanged from room to room if need be.

In addition to the physical amenities he stressed and introduced, he recognized that guests had to feel appreciated.   To emphasize his commitment, Statler introduced what he called the STATLER SERVICE CODE.

Statler Service Code

  • It is the business of a good hotel to cater to the public. It is the avowed business of the Hotel Statler to please the public better than any other hotel in the world.
  • Have everyone feel that for his money we want to give him more sincere service than he ever before received at any hotel.
  • Never be perky, pungent or fresh. The guest pays your salary as well as mine. He is your immediate benefactor.
  • Hotel service, that is, Hotel Statler service, means the limit of courteous, efficient attention from each particular employee to each particular guest. It is the object of the Hotel Statler to sell its guest the best service in the world.
  • No employee of this hotel is allowed the privilege of arguing any point with a guest. He must adjust the matter at once to the guest’s satisfaction or call his superior to adjust it. Wrangling has no place in Hotel Statler.
  • In all minor discussions between Statler employees and guests the employee is dead wrong, from the guest’s point of view and from ours.
  • Any Statler employee who is wise and discrete enough to merit tips is wise and discrete enough to render like service whether he is tipped or not.
  • Any Statler employee who fails to give service or who fails to thank the guest who gives him something falls short of Statler standards.

I updated this Service Code and have used it successfully in training programs and operations.  If readers would like a copy of this version in PowerPoint, please send a request for it to john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com . I can also share with you an amusing  example of teamwork in delivering memorable and personalized customer service in a commercial from SN Brussels Airlines  in you tube format .  http://www.hospitalityeducators.com/articles/20100708

“Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human being a little more, a little better service.” Elsworth Statler

Feedback or ideas for future pieces are welcome -contact me at info@HoganHospitality.com

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 8.11.2010             www.HospitalityEducators.com

www.HoganHospitality.com

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.  If readers would like to contribute to the site, please submit your material for consideration to Kathleen@hospitalityeducators.com.  We are interested in expanding our global networks and resources as we support our membership.

Share Best Practices on Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business #2

The full title of the previous blog reinforced the emphasis of the series : Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business by instilling passion in our people and I appreciate reader response and feedback.   Segment 1 introduced an understanding of a genuine need for the hospitality industry to provide a unique experience or face the potential consequences of our hotel, restaurant, retail service or attraction being viewed as very ordinary or in other words, a commodity.

This second segment of the series further defines the experience of today, whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated.  In segment one, I shared some insights from Tennessee hotelier Johnny Walker of Nashville. He has been actively engaged in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years and is one of the region’s most experienced tour operators.  As a hotel owner/operator with multiple brands, he offered a number of ideas he felt were important for hotel managers today, including the message that “every room rental/stay must be viewed as an experience”

In a number of interactive workshops over the past two years, I have focused on identifying ways to  encourage hotel general managers and their staffs to think about the “guest experience” and how we might build that commitment of “high touch” into the mindset of every employee for every guest.

Recognizing the danger of becoming a “Commodity”, and seeking specific ways to avoid becoming ordinary, I focused on three areas in these workshops and am pleased to share some best practices from managers and owners of both branded and independent properties.

The first topic discussed is one that every guest experiences, regardless of hotel location,  room rate or level of service:  SLEEPING

These workshops were held across North America and participants had wonderful ideas and best practices of how to make the “sleeping” experience positive, memorable and unique.  The best ideas I heard included addressing all five of the human senses

  1. Sight – the guest room and the bed must be inviting.  This means neatly prepared beds, using pillows as décor and a sense of freshness to the eye as one enters the room.
  2. Smell – the fragrance discussion in hospitality is not new.  We all likely have fond memories of entering a bakery or a certain restaurant, yet too many hotels do not address this sensation.  Care must be taken in cleaning products used, and there are packaged scents available that can be subtly present in the guest room, which enhances the overnight experience of sleep.
  3. Sound – Rooms must be reasonably constructed or designed to block out street noise or external sound, as well as addressing the sounds of ice machines and elevators.  Suggestions by attendees included ways to identify and then deal with those noises.  A number of properties today include a CD player (with brand or hotel provided CDs)  and/or a higher quality radio that offers additional calming effects conducive for sleeping
  4. Taste – the general manager’s reception, fresh popcorn in the lobby, homemade cookies or other treats can be positive interactions for guests as they retire to their rooms. These can reinforce situations they have at home, and therefore find positive when traveling.
  5. Touch – as in #1 Sight above, the guest room and bedding must be inviting.  Well maintained, comfortable bed coverings with quality linens complete the five senses for a guest who is on the road every week or for those who travel only on vacations.

Participants who shared these observations also commented that the entire housekeeping and front office teams must be part of understanding that delivery of a good’s night’s sleep means each member of the staff contributing their own personal touches, smiles and appreciation of the individual guest staying at their hotel.

The next two segments of this blog will share best practices on breakfast and staff responsiveness to a guest’s concern or complaint.

Feedback or ideas for future pieces are welcome -contact me info@HoganHospitality.com

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS  7.29.10         HospitalityEducators.com, HoganHospitality.com

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com ) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry.   Services are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

Focus on Hotel Service – and the Guest Experience

The Hotel Guest Experience today is as meaningful as any other factor in guest satisfaction and loyalty. Hotel Housekeeping and engineering teams can contribute in significant ways, including guest contact and interaction. Take the time for group sharing of successes.