Educating a Better Customer
By Norma Jarman, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
A customer may not know about the skills needed to succeed…but they know what does not work. How can we condition a customer to stay at our hotel property repeatedly?
For us Road Warriors, that time of year when our patience will be pushed to its limit is quickly coming upon us—the summer travel season!
While I wait in line to pass through the airport security, I cannot believe how many times the TSA agents have to remind people to take off their shoes, remove all metal from their pockets, run their electronics through the X-ray machine, and that they cannot travel with full-sized toiletry items. Seriously? These rules have been in place for how many years now? How can any airport traveler not know this?
Then I take a deep breath and think about the time my mother and I flew to Arizona for my brother’s wedding. She had not traveled by airplane since September 11, 2001, so she was “new” to the ways of the TSA. We had to check her bag because of her full-sized toiletry items, and we took a little extra time going through security as she was wearing a jacket, belt, and shoes with laces. Deep breaths and patience, I told myself.
When we arrived in Arizona, my mother asked me to take her shopping for some sensible, lace-free shoes. I was happy to oblige. On the return trip, we still had to check her bag, and it still took us a little extra time at security, but we saved a few minutes while she slipped her shoes off and on! I cannot help but think, if my mother learned this lesson with just one visit through TSA, why can’t everyone else? And maybe they do…
How many times have you asked yourself the same question(s) about your hotel guests?
Why don’t they make their reservations in advance, when they know the hotel is going to sell out? Why don’t they sign up for Frequent Stay Programs, so their profile and preferences are always handy? Why don’t they listen when the front desk tells them about the facilities and gives them directions to the elevators? Deep breaths and patience.
Each time you “educate” a customer on “how things work,” you are training them to be a better guest not only at your hotel, but at all hotels. You never want to “blame” your guests for not knowing what they do not know—you want to use kind and gentle ways to educate them.
For the guest who never makes future reservations and then gets upset when you do not have a room for them, express how much you value their business. Tell them you always want to accommodate their needs, and a great way to start this relationship is to have their room available for them upon their arrival. Explain the benefits of making the reservations and the ease in canceling them, if needed. Help them to understand when and why you will be selling out: Monday through Thursday with corporate travelers, and special event weekends.
For guests who have not signed up for your Frequent Stay Program, explain to them the benefits of being part of the program. By being a member, you can save them check-in time and ensure they get what they want. You can safely keep the member’s credit card number on file! King-sized bed—it is in the member’s profile! You will know in advance that the Premier-Platinum-Diamond-Executive Member is on their way, and you will recognize them when they arrive!
In addition, for the guest who does not listen during your facilities review, try to make the presentation all about them. Try to incorporate into the conversation why they are in town, how long they will be staying, and if they have stayed at your hotel before. Personalizing the conversation will help them to pay attention: “Because you have never stayed here before and you are traveling on business, you may like to know that…”
The more time and patience you invest in your guests and the more you “educate” them on “how things work,” the more they can become the “dream guest.” You are the hospitality associate who took the time to make their life on the road easier. This will result in not only higher, customer-service satisfaction scores, but will build loyalty because you made it all about them.
Recently, my mother and I took another trip together, and it still took us a little extra time to get through security (after all, she is 74!), but she did remember to wear her sensible, lace-free shoes. Deep breaths and patience!
Norma Jarman is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.