Point Taken – Improving Guest Service Scores

| April 24, 2020 | Reply

This article is written for the hospitaly industry, but as applicable to Spas, as we are both in the service industry. In truth, it is applicable to any company in the service industy.

By Bill Groves Hotel General Manager, Atrium Hospitality

As we ponder improving hotel guest service scores, let’s consider a few questions…  Am I well versed in today’s diverse guests’ wants and expectations? Do my actions inspire associates to initiate efforts that can improve guest service scores?Are team members trained and empowered to make timely, effective guest service decisions? Are they equipped with the resources and tools to conduct proactive hospitality?Am I encouraging teamwork and respect among hotel departments?

During my 30 years of experience in the service industry, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise nearly 1,000 associates and guide transformations in guest service. Today, I work for one of the largest hotel operators in the nation, Atrium Hospitality. We remain focused on guest service through industry-leading standards and processes.

To help our guests feel like our hotel is their home away from home, our associates are trained in the 10 universal standards, or the “Atrium Way.” We use an engaging, memorable program to train associates to make guests feel welcome, even before they arrive. A major emphasis of the Atrium Way is displaying enthusiasm with guests and conducting proactive hospitality. As associates interact with guests, we encourage them to go beyond asking “how was your stay?” to instead “what can we do to make your stay exceptional?”

This actionable approach to guest service inspires associates to be more observant and take initiative. For example, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center in South Carolina, where I serve as GM, we had a large group visiting from Germany. One of our food & beverage associates temporarily modified our breakfast selection to include certain foods from Europe as a gesture to make our international visitors feel more at home. This group didn’t have to make a special request. Instead, our perceptive associate implemented proactive hospitality, delivering on her training in the Atrium Way.

Empowering Hotel Talent

With hundreds of guests passing through our hotel each day, addressing the diverse needs of travelers in a timely manner is key to achieving improved guest scores. I recall assuming responsibilities as a property GM and our hotel associates’ being apprehensive to make certain decisions related to guest service. Having only one primary resolution contact on property proved challenging. I worked to change our hotel’s service culture mindset through sharing of ideas, training, and empowering associates to make situations right. Newly empowered associates grew to be confident in handling a range of guest matters, including problem-solving quickly at the time of guest interactions.

Improving a service culture doesn’t happen overnight. Through regular training and practice, we can better prepare associates for different guest-related scenarios. We can encourage team members to decipher numerous potential guest situations, have empathy, and make thoughtful decisions. We can also remind them of the importance of remaining calm when a guest is upset or in a panic.

I find that new-hire orientation is the ideal opportunity to kick off associate expectations for guest service. During a portion of orientation, I personally meet with new team members and communicate how they are each empowered to do what is right by the guest. I make sure they are secure in the knowledge that the company will support their decisions in trying to achieve great guest service outcomes.

Updating team members about guest feedback and celebrating especially high achievements in guest service are spotlighted at our daily “team huddles” with each new shift. By highlighting some guest service wins each day, we can provide examples of behaviors to model and rally teams to make it a great day.

Not all feedback will be excellent, and guest service challenges need to be addressed in a timely and thoughtful manner. I present challenging guest feedback to our “Make a Difference” committee. This collaborative group is comprised of representatives from each hotel department. Committee members bring diverse perspectives to problem-solving as they generate ideas for teams to implement to improve our guest service.

The “Make a Difference” committee also suggests guest service ideas as a part of our internal “think bigger” initiative. For example, with our focus on building group business, our hotel hosts numerous youth sports teams. One committee idea we implemented to enhance on-property satisfaction was adding family entertainment value with these groups. We temporarily convert boardrooms to movie and video game areas with complimentary snack tables. The converted family entertainment areas have been a hit with guests!

Living a Collaborative Mindset

Although guest satisfaction tends to be shouldered by the front desk, each department has an important role to play. Cross-department collaboration built on trust is key to delivering excellent guest service.

The hotel desk team should feel confident that their amenity request will be handled correctly by others within the hotel. This trust frees the front desk to focus on the next guest. For example, we had a recent guest score her stay as a 9 (with 10 being the highest), thanks to an empowered team that took action to turn this frustrated arriving guest into a happy and appreciative one. An observant front desk team member ordered a complimentary guest amenity, then the kitchen team made it a priority, and the room service representative delivered the amenity in a timely manner with a message of explanation. The guest was delighted. Departments know they are empowered to work together to make it right for any guest. Because this request was done seamlessly, the trust among departments continued to strengthen to support future requests among team members.

Another way we enrich collaboration is by celebrating successes together. By rewarding wins as a team, we can build an internal culture where people work united rather than as silos. One of my favorite hotel celebrations is our “GM grill & chill,” when I get to wear an apron and cook for our staff. This celebratory, fun environment reinforces our supportive culture.

When grooming associates for providing exemplary guest service, be patient. I have found that not all associates learn the same way or at the same pace. With regular practice, watch the transformation over time as associates improve in their guest service responses and team collaboration.

Staying Connected to Guests

Technology is also playing a greater role in addressing guest service by making it easier for travelers to communicate their needs and have an overall enhanced experience.

Atrium Hospitality operates more than 3 million square feet of event space nationwide. We use some of the latest technologies to keep in touch with meeting attendees in real time and to help drive and manage the sales process. During their meetings, clients can use a mobile app to instantly alert our professional event specialists of needs, such as a request to modify the venue’s temperature.

With significant repeat groups and conventions at our property, technology for tracking details, such as overall attendee preferences, helps us in assisting planners. From what flavored beverages were consumed to how much creamer was used, we apply technology to track actual usage by attendees to support planners with future events.

In addition, our hotel leverages our Digital Concierge System, which utilizes a texting and digital messaging software, to communicate with guests in a timely manner. We can be confident that a guest is happy, and we can also stay apprised of guest concerns. With immediate communication, my team will own the guest concern and work to make it right before the guest leaves the property.

 

This ongoing commitment to making it right in a timely manner and delivering an exceptional guest stay led to our Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center recently being recognized as one of the best in the brand system for quality guest scores. With a collaborative team effort comprised of empowered associates, guest service score points are continuously within our reach!

Mr. Groves Bill Groves serves as a hotel general manager for Alpharetta, Georgia-based Atrium Hospitality, ranked one of the nation’s largest hotel operators and recently awarded a Top Workplaces 2020 honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With more than 30 years in the service industry, Mr. Groves is currently GM at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center in South Carolina. The hotel was recently recognized by Hilton for being ranked among the top 10% of the brand set worldwide in outstanding quality performance. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western Carolina University, Mr. Groves began his hotel management career at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greensboro in North Carolina.

Category: Spa Articles

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