COVID-19 and the mandated rules of social distancing and cleanliness have certainly impacted our lives this year. No one could have predicted the changes in our lives due to this pandemic. Hospitality has been hit the hardest of all the industries and recovery will take some time. As we start to open back up and get to some sort of normalcy, there continues to be long-lasting changes that affect our business and our guests. But many of these new requirements have had a damaging effect on service. It is important that we don’t forget the key measures that make hospitality successful and sought-after.
Attention to Detail
Guests will follow queues, wear masks, social distance and even hop on one foot if it means that they can go back to enjoying a meal, hotel stay, spa treatment or any other activity at your property. However, it is our responsibility to effectively communicate all aspects of their experience so that they aren’t surprised or disappointed by us missing their expectations.
Anticipating Guest Needs
No valet, bellhop, daily housekeeping or room service? No problem, so long as all the information is communicated prior to arrival. Better yet, create alternatives that work for guests. Allow for 15-minute curbside parking, extra carts to assist with self-movement of luggage, ample towels in rooms and grab-n-go options for guests to take food to their room themselves.
Professional AND Warm Service with a Smile
Plexiglass and masks? They expect it. But they also expect knowledgeable team members who know their jobs and are able to provide excellent service with a smile that can be heard and seen in your eyes. Just because these barriers are required, does not mean that you have to hide from professional hospitality. Smile and your eyes will smile, your voice will be warm and your guests will know that you are exceptional.
Costs are up due to cleaning, extra staffing, barriers and PPEs, but the guest should still feel at the end of the experience that it was worth it. Guests don’t want to feel nickel-and-dimed. Adding and passing on costs to guests just makes them mad and doesn’t add to the intrinsic value. The cost of the room or the dinner should be the cost. All costs associated should be included in that transaction – then exceed their expectation by providing great service and an outstanding product, and it won’t matter what the cost was. This has been the nature of our business for centuries. The great properties are just known for exceeding the intrinsic value expectation of guests.
Love Being “There” and a Desire to Come Back
Once your guests check in to your hotel, restaurant, casino or spa – they want to love just being there. They have jumped through the COVID-19 hoops and queues, and now they just want to have a great time. Make sure that you give them just that. The more we can have guests love being at our property, the more they will relax and create their own escape from this weirdness. In the end, with a warm thank you for staying, playing and eating at your property – and a smile from your eyes, they will want to come back. Isn’t that the real measure of hospitality success?
More Hospitality Truths
- QR code menus to replace paper menus do not need to be boring. Creative menus, even with reduced menu options, can be fun and well-balanced.
- Seating reconfiguration for social distancing doesn’t have to mean that the entire atmosphere needs to be sterile. Create individual environments with plants or partitions that give separation, but doesn’t make the room look sparse.
- Hand manage electronic reservation systems. Nothing is more frustrating than selecting an alternative time for seating because your desired time was unavailable, just to find an empty dining room.
- Cleanliness is still cleanliness. Wiping down tables and counters doesn’t mean that you leave behind a sticky residue from COVID-19-killing chemicals for people to touch. Attention to detail!
- Guests will queue – but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have normal wait times to assist guests. Staff well for the demand and exceed wait expectations.
- Limiting amenities due to COVID-19 costs is laziness and is a bad model long-term. Figure out how to provide amenities that can be delivered safely. Guests will flock to the property that can provide services that others can’t. It will be the point of differentiation between you and your competitor.
- Lots of new safety messaging for your guests means that your team members need to follow it too. It is far more supported and believed if you walk the talk.
- Understand that the guest is paying you for a positive experience. You aren’t entitled – they are. Thank them for choosing you, and make sure that they love being there and want to come back again and again.
Guests have jumped through hoops to come to your property. Are you delighting them, or are you expressing a “take it or leave it” attitude? Let’s be the industry that leads all others!