Over the past few weeks I have been asked what has been the defining element of my career. Some are known as financial wizards, others as brand innovators and scores more as sales gurus. My hallmark is service. It may not be sexy but when executed flawlessly is a differentiator and a competitive advantage. In a landscape that grows increasingly crowded and fiercely competitive the advantage will not go to the hotel that offers the most amenities nor the lowest rate. Rather, the advantage will be scored by the property that emphasizes the value of their guests. These savvy hoteliers understand that longevity and success is achieved by nurturing relationships – establishing what I call a “heart connection.”
So, what exactly is a heart connection? It is any interaction between staff and guest that relates to the guest on a purely human level. It requires relinquishing the carefully crafted scripts and avoid becoming a caricature of the customer service industry – a customer service robot, if you will. It is defined by genuinely caring about the guests’ wants and needs and taking the time to get to know the guest as Mr. Smith or Ms. Munn. The hospitality business, after all, is about forging and maintaining relationships. How can we provide a personalized experience for every guest if we don’t take the time to get to know them?
All too often we tend to rely on amenities and technology to be the primary drivers of convenience and value. In reality amenities and technology are simply vehicles to enhance the experience. At the end of the day we are inviting guests into our homes. We cannot expect our loyal friends to return by hiding behind a facade of caring, obscured by a plethora of amenities and gadgets that they may not even want or need. Let’s spend more time engaging our guests, being gracious hosts and teaching our staff to do the same.
What are the some of the ways you create your own heart connections?
In the spirit of hospitality,