3 FOUNDATIONS FOR HOSPITALITY SUCCESS IN 2021 – AND BEYOND
There’s no question that the hospitality industry is facing an extremely challenging period in 2020. High vacancies may have become the norm over the past few months for existing properties, but simultaneously, the most ambitious hospitality brands are moving forward with renovations and ongoing developments. Notably, they’re also breaking ground on new ones every day.
These industry leaders aren’t overzealous – just smart. They’re firmly focused on hospitality’s inevitable and sustained upswing, and you should be, too. Yes, you need to find ways to improve efficiencies and get leaner in the short term, but it’s critical to look at the big picture and take this time to develop new ways to distinguish your brand in the months and years ahead.
Follow in the footsteps of ambition and platinum standards, and use this unprecedented period to create an extraordinary guest experience, maximize spend-per-stay, and build brand loyalty. The good news is that the experience of tomorrow is built upon the same foundations of a successful guest experience today:
- Providing surprise & delight
- Establishing trust & comfort
- Boosting team alignment & commitment
What’s fundamentally different now is the execution of these three foundations. Here are some key considerations and strategies to execute precisely and position your property for sustained long-term growth.
#1: Surprise and Delight
Whether your guests are last-minute travelers, visiting for business, on vacation or are simply filled with wanderlust, immersing them in an atmosphere of even greater surprise and delight will make a tremendous impact and leave a powerful impression. Especially during uncertain or stressful times, providing positive moments of surprise is the way to create lasting memories for your guests.
To bring that necessary wow factor, it’s going to take more than complimentary cookies and a welcoming smile. Rather, you need to give some serious thought to how you want your guests to feel from the moment they step foot on your property. What do you want them to see, hear and smell, and how will those sensory elements enhance the emotions you want your guests to feel?
Additionally, how will those elements help relieve any anxiety they may be feeling? Don’t overlook the power of Music, Visuals and Scent Marketing in creating a powerful multi-sensory experience. These elements are fundamental to connecting you with your unique clientele in a stronger and more meaningful way. As we discuss in How to Create Lasting Guest Loyalty, establishing that connection is one of the most important keys to increasing guest loyalty and brand advocacy.
This is one of the reasons more brands are installing sensory media into their lobbies such as digital signage, LED displays and advanced audiovisual systems. Their goal is to create an unparalleled sense of excitement and an exotic experience, helping guests escape any stresses of the outside world. It also enables them to communicate pertinent messaging and create a greater sense of welcome in more powerful and engaging ways.
Speaking of creating a sense of surprise with technology, more business travelers are looking for clean spaces where they can hold conferences and small meetings. This trend is directly related to the projected increase in remote collaboration over the next several months. If you really want to surprise and impress these guests, equip your conference rooms with the latest conferencing and collaboration technology. No, conference systems don’t add multi-sensory value per se, but the joy and relief your guests will feel when they connect their laptop to the system and it works on the first time is absolutely priceless. Talk about a great way to boost convenience and motivate business travelers to book at your property in the future.
#2: Trust & Comfort
The hospitality standards of cleanliness have been raised. Your guests and your employees need the peace of mind in knowing that your property provides a clean environment that doesn’t put them at risk. They need to know that you take their well-being seriously and that you’re taking the right steps to ensure it. Implementing advanced cleaning techniques is the first key to providing that necessary level of assurance, but the truth is that it’s going to take more if you really want to make a positive impact.
The second key is making your guests aware of these efforts before and during their stay through clear communication. With the world in a perpetual state of caution, your guests are looking for a sanitary, worry-free oasis they can rely on – and your property is just that, ready to help them on their journey. Plus, if guests are confident in the cleanliness of your property, they’re more likely to visit your bar and order from your kitchen, rather than take their chances with a restaurant they’ve never been to.
You can create a similar feeling of trust and comfort for your team members by communicating cleanliness standards. As long as they follow the best practices you provide, they can wholeheartedly focus on providing world-class hospitality – instead of worrying about whether or not they’ll get sick by coming into work.
Additionally, think about how you want to make the world aware of your efforts. Leverage email marketing, web, programmatic ads and social media to share your commitment and generate some positive buzz. On-hold messaging is also an effective medium for further driving that sense of assurance.
Remember – the things your guests and employees see, hear and smell while at your property need to contribute to creating a strong sense of trust and comfort. Do guests see engaging signage communicating best safety practices? Do rooms have sanitation seals? Do guests smell peppermint, vanilla or lavender, giving them the impression that your property is immaculate? Are you playing the right music to maintain an upbeat vibe and make your property feel clean and relaxing, but not overly sterile? You can explore this concept in greater depth in Trust, Assurance & Your Guest Experience: 5 Keys.
Simply put, creating that clean and sanitary impression can go a long way towards driving positive business results.
#3: Greater Team Alignment & Commitment
Hospitality is an industry in which coworkers often feel like family, and to them, your property feels like home. As a leader, you’ve trained your associates, coached them, broke bread with them, and you’ve still likely had to make the hard decision to reduce head count over the past several months. It’s a difficult and heartbreaking situation for both parties.
When you reach a position in which you can start bringing employees back, the first order of business is to start reestablishing that sense of family amongst your team. Show them that you have their back and listen to any concerns they may have about returning to the workplace. One of the most effective ways you can address such concerns and reinforce a sense of family is by leveraging a robust back-of-house communication strategy. Displaying safety best practices and training tips will show your team that you care about their well-being. Highlighting employee achievements and milestones, displaying team photos and providing inspirational quotes are small, yet powerful ways to show that you appreciate your team.
Additionally, keep in mind that uncertainty will linger around even as the economy rebounds, so provide flexibility in shifts, empathy in leadership, and the belief that #HospitalityStrong is more than a slogan – it’s a way of life. The goal of all of these efforts is to get your employees emotionally invested again towards giving 110%. The result is stronger focus and drive to provide world-class hospitality.
Surprise and delight. Trust and comfort. Greater team alignment. When these three foundations are executed strategically, consistently and with heart, your bottom line will reap major rewards. The increased bookings, greater spend per visit and lasting guest loyalty your business needs become much easier to achieve.
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