Delivering exceptional guest services is a top priority for all of us in the hospitality industry.
How will centralized guest service centers get us to this goal in 2021?
Meet Sam and Mike. Two driven, focused, and ambitious young professionals working in our hospitality industry. There are no tangible differences between the two.
Sam is responsible for delivering unforgettable guest experiences. His daily tasks all ladder up to that one job of keeping guests happy. Everyday, Sam fields guest inquiries, responds to them himself, or directs them to housekeeping and F&B teams. His role allows him to follow up incessantly with guests till their requests are fulfilled and even after to collect feedback.
Mike is a Front Office Manager. As we all know, his job covers multiple grounds. He welcomes guests, handles check-in/check-out processes, answers queries from in-house guests on the phone or in person, generates tickets for the relevant teams. While delivering on unforgettable guest experiences is an aim, often Mike is stretched thin simply checking all the boxes.
Now if we tracked guest experience, there is no debate that Sam’s focused effort would deliver better results.
Sam’s success can be attributed to the fact that the property created a role that focused on delivering unforgettable guest experiences.
What would Mike do if 6 guests showed up at the same time at the front desk and three more were calling down?
Centralized guest services
The concept of building a centralized, often offsite, team that is focused on delivering guest experiences isn’t new.
Across the US, casinos, brand hotels, and property chains have already adopted it.
Ivy, our digital concierge, is part of the tech that is anchoring these centers.
[If you would like to hear more about the properties that have established the center, get in touch. I’d be happy to share more details.]
As we emerge from pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions, and guest unease, increasing number of hotels and casinos are following suit and establishing these centers.
We need all the advantages to regain the ground that we lost last year.
What would a centralized guest service center look like?
- Command center: Think of it as a PBX or hub that would oversee guest experiences. One center that handles all guest inquiries and requests, directs them to the right departments for fulfillment on a need basis and then follows through to ensure guest satisfaction.
- Location and property agnostic: With the right protocols and processes in place, the command center needn’t be on property. In fact, we can expect significant cost savings if we established a command center that covered several properties at a time.
- Time-bound follow-through: Fulfilling guest requests in a time-bound manner (remember Domino’s promise of pizzas in 45 minutes or you get it free?) is a job half done. Following through and asking for feedback at the right time increases favorable online reviews and NPS scores.
Tech adoption as the way forward
Given the staffing crisis that we are currently facing as an industry, the centralized guest service operations can lift the pressure off hoteliers and operations staff at individual properties.
Adoption of tech to staff the command center, automate guest inquiries, streamline processes is the only way forward. The idea that tech automation is destroying guest experiences or that it takes jobs away from people is an outdated one.
We have data and research from Cornell University to show that hotel staff appreciates tech automation reducing their workload, particularly the tedious aspects of it. If anything, we see that when technology handles repetitive tasks, hotel staff are freed to handle more complex guest queries consequently increasing job satisfaction levels.
Digital concierges (and similar tech solutions) also play another crucial role during this crisis. They ease the pressure on the staff currently on board and at work at different properties. As much as 65% of queries can be automated.
Centralized guest service operations may well be the next idea that goes mainstream.
We need all the advantages that come with it.
Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash