We have been falling over each other in the lodging business, trying to capture that illusive Guest Experience and sell it. Smaller operations, like Inns, boutique properties and Bed and Breakfasts can readily do this with outreach into their compelling communities (all are interesting in some fashion). For the larger properties, this is an ordeal, not that it cannot be done. Our concierges have been directing patrons to dining, entertainment, and recreation for years. However, many of guests want a deeper drill down to the gestalt of the communities in which we operate.
Large hotels should refocus their guests back to what the hotel has ultimate control over – their quality of service and product. That in itself is a sufficient experience for many in today’s marketplace. Let the AirBandB’s and the smaller properties forage and serve the particular guest who seeks that unique experience, while your larger properties focus more on the convention, meeting and event business. It is not an even playing field, so do what you do best.
So, how do we maximize that business segment – the meeting world? Hospitality trade associations, and I include chambers of commerce and CVBs, are very much a partner in the journey to Remarkable Hospitality, for in most cases they present the public face of our businesses to that visitor and potential guest. They help promote our destination, our industry segment and our business on a scale that we, as individual operators, simply cannot. We pay for that effort with our dues or through specific tax revenue. The relationship is indispensable. The leaders are often our neighbors with the best of intentions. The charters are clear. But, has the respective constituency spoken or even been asked? There is no need for rebellion, but as a stakeholder, your opinions, needs, and expectations must be made known, and you need to participate with those organizations.
The Meeting Planner has all sorts of collaterals to consider, from slick magazine coverage, to material sent from your Destination marketing folks, to information from you own office. No matter the size, these planners are looking beyond price as they settle upon a location for their activity. A couple of newer concerns are out there now – safety, the green movement, the state of your A/V and technology throughout your property. How you stand will set you apart. Hopefully, you are always asking your planners and/or guests about their stay and their activities. This feedback will reward your efforts mightily.
So, don’t go chasing ghosts. Certain types of Guest Experience will just flow and filter through your hands like a wisp of fog. As a major hotel focus aggressively on the market segment where you do have some control and maneuverability – the convention, meeting and events business.
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog, focusing on anything and everything about customer experience. LRA Worldwide is the leading global provider of Customer Experience Measurement services for multinational companies with complex customer interactions. For over 30 years, LRA’s innovative brand standards audits, quality assurance inspections, mystery shopping programs, research, and consulting services have helped ensure our clients deliver consistent, memorable, and differentiated experiences to their customers. Many of the world's preeminent global hospitality brands, as well as companies in the gaming, dining, healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, retail and travel industries choose LRA to help them measure and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit www.LRAWorldwide.com.
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