All those auto recalls by GM and now moving to Ford seem to capture the essence of the last six or seven years – our caprice with the recession is now catching up. Yep, there we began to do more with less, pursue cheaper means and products, quietly de-emphasize quality, scale back, cut here and there. Paybacks can be Hell, but you would not know that from the NY Stock Exchange performance. The economy inches along (yet, capital remains on the sideline), the unemployment rate decreases ever so slightly (many have just dropped out), people are protesting for a Living Wage (how dare they) and the environment continues to crumble. Is the big one coming and what would that look like? Oz is super busy – too many levers and switches, smoke and mirrors!
What are we seeing in the Hospitality world, where we are measured by product, service and facility? We are building hotel rooms like crazy all over the world. And, those rooms will be filled with travelers, flying in on carriers which have been consolidated within the industry and charging us for every little itinerary change and bag, testing our patience and pocket book. You also tend to wonder how all this building in the Middle East will look as the petroleum and natural gas market changes, admittedly slowly, but it will. At some time the Consumer will be more confused than thankful for the plethora of Hotel Brands within a Brand. Too much choice leads to paralysis and erodes any loyalty. Hotels need to regain their reputation and, yes, glamour. We cut back mightily a few years ago. Renovation was put on hold, those cut, fresh flowers disappeared, property management initiatives and planned maintenance were stalled, staff was over-taxed. We have some “repairs” to do.
Our friends in the Gaming world and their splendid operations are facing a glut of options and competition for that entertainment dollar. Some destinations are holding their own (Las Vegas), others await fruitful opportunity (Massachusetts, if the casino legislation is not over-turned this Fall), and some are retrenching (Atlantic City). Tribal gaming has decisions to make for their future, depending upon their locations, leadership and coffers.
Restaurants have been able to hold their own with that usual trickle-down, like moving from fine dining to more casual and dripping into fast food. They have been more creative in their offerings – different cuts of beef, more varied sides, emphasis on portion control, perhaps fewer hours of operation. They have always had to watch cents to make business sense.
Ultimately, what will spell success for Hospitality operations is the emphasis on service – that is the true distinction and differentiation for the business. We have beaten up our staff pretty well – shift changes, shorter hours, the daily reality of do more with less, and we are not going to pay you very much, either. Consumers are very savvy – they can see through your substitutions, subtleties and machinations. Similar is not the same to them. They want the true deal, the real you they remember and the Brand they admired. We moved from butter to margarine. Faux does not work!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA 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 www.LRAworldwide.com.
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