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Creating a culture of guest delight part III: COVID-19 concerns

Jun 19, 2020

In part I of this series on guest delight, we talked about how assessing and developing your culture, focusing on your employees and developing and aligning organizational strategy can help you create a culture of guest delight. Part II led us to explore the importance of technology, studying competitors, recovery plans and ultimately how to measure guest delight.

In part III, we will address how to create guest delight in the midst of rapidly changing guest health and safety concerns. The following four additional tips can help you create a culture of guest delight in light of how COVID-19 has changed the hospitality landscape.

Tip #7: Develop a message and deliver on it

Guest delight hinges on developing your culture and communicating it to all levels of the organization. New cleanliness protocols and safety measures may have altered familiar steps of service and the physical presence of staff, thus increasing the importance of delivering your message correctly the first time. The heightened awareness that guests are traveling with regarding cleanliness and safety make these new challenges a pivotal piece to guest delight.

Developing the message that you want your employees to communicate to guests, and then delivering on it, will be key to helping guests feel comfortable re-entering your doors to experience a much-needed retreat.

Tip #8: Actively listen, watch and learn

With the rapid pace at which the COVID-19 situation is changing, guest expectations will also change rapidly. Awareness of these changes and the ability to quickly adapt with new policies need to occur in real time.

Delighting a guest involves anticipating the individual needs of the guest and addressing those needs. This means that steps taken to increase both guest and employee safety may require additional communication.

Each individual will adapt differently to the new policies. Whether the new policies are too much, too little or just right will depend on individual perceptions. Adapting to the situation without compromising your message will require active listening, watching, and learning.

Tip #9: Delight with data

Due to COVID-19, human interaction and the expectations surrounding it are changing. Guests may feel wary communicating face to face with employees to provide the feedback necessary for you to understand guest experience perceptions. Leaning into the power of data will help provide the tools necessary to make each individual interaction special from the moment the guest arrives.

Loyalty member databases and reservations are a treasure trove of information about a guest. Whether it be the purpose for their visit or their favorite bedtime snack or breakfast beverage, each piece of information gathered is an opportunity to delight. The more preference data you can gather about your guest, the easier it will be to find just the right touch to make their stay memorable.

The opportunity to use data and technology doesn’t begin and end pre-check-in, though. Using text messaging via cellphone or your properties’ app can also provide ways to get real-time feedback from guests regarding their experience. Even calling guest rooms shortly after check-in to verify everything is satisfactory provides an opportunity to learn more about a guest and ways you can delight them.

Tip #10: "Whoever wrote the rule?"

Danny Meyer, CEO and founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group — which is responsible for multiple Michelin-starred restaurants among more casual concepts such as Shake Shack — approaches his new concepts and challenges by asking “whoever wrote the rule?”.

COVID-19 has disrupted the hospitality industry in a way that forces adaptation. The hospitality landscape has changed drastically, causing both short- and long-term strategies to be revisited. What better time to ask your team “whoever wrote the rule?”.

Times of disruption are opportunities to adapt and adjust. The opportunity to implement new processes, service offerings and strategies has been forced upon the industry. However, each leader will have to decide how to respond. Asking “whoever wrote the rule?” may bring your team the inspiration it needs to keep their heads above water, thrive in this moment and find new ways to create guest delight given all the obstacles now facing the industry.

Create your culture of guest and customer delight

From assessing and developing your culture to creating an organizational strategy that focuses on delighting your guests, Wipfli is here to help. Learn about our accommodations/hospitality services.

And if you need more help with COVID-19 issues, we’re here to help you navigate the impact on your people, finances and business. We have developed a library of resources in our COVID-19 resource center to help you stabilize today and prepare for tomorrow. We also have solutions that can help you manage your people strategy, operations, business finances and technology.

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Tina Nazier, MBA, CPC
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