It used to be so easy to get a handle on a “booking”. But, the consumer, who largely is “flying blind” in many cases, when booking reservations or gathering information to make a decision, must decipher the code when looking for “reliability” of a property – that it is clean, safe, secure, and comfortable, with reasonable service, product and facility. That reliability nowadays is fleeting.
There are Rating Services which rely solely on guest feedback. Others evaluate businesses based upon level of amenities, location, size, price or just former reputation. Some businesses choose to rate themselves (no two stars here). Very few of these services actually visit the property, which is the ultimate test. A hands-on, physical inspection of a property, using a market driven, legitimate diagnostic assessment tool is really the only means to substantiate the pending experience. Certainly Customer Reviews also have a place, if trends can be uncovered. All others are fluff, and actually devalue the experience and fog up the “brandscape”.
A lodging decision is not seen as critical as a purchase of a car or major appliance, but yet we all are brand driven, and brands must stand up to critical review. Plus, brands validate those standards constantly. This is where the flag properties, chain restaurants, national amusement parks and retail companies have an edge over the independents, for some level of standards is integrated into their brand. Essentially a visit to the chain hotel or restaurant in Jackson, MS will be pretty much the same as their operation in Portland, ME or Tulsa, OK. There also needs to be some accountability from the organizations which represent Destination Management. Too often they see their mission as strictly marketing and promoting travel to a particular area. They tend to wash their hands of any responsibility for the experience once there. “Welcome and good luck”.
The consumer has one precious commodity – time. And, this is why an experience becomes successful or not. They do not always give due diligence to their travel plans, other than flight schedule and usually price. They do depend upon us to paint a legitimate picture and deliver. We are ultimately responsible for the State of Hospitality, and there must be some credibility to the product and service we represent. When standards are low and uneven, consumer satisfaction follows that tide. Without standards you cannot measure performance; you have neither accountability nor reliability. We need to elevate the hospitality bar!
LRA Worldwide is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit us at www.LRAworldwide.com.
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