When I checked into the Plaza in New York, I felt like the front desk staff already knew me. He called me by my name and had seemingly memorized all the details of where I was from, what I was doing there, my room requests and more. It made me feel pretty darn wonderful. Prior to this arrival, however, it should be noted that they were already responding to my tweets about going there, and ensuring that I knew I was ‘heard’ and making sure I knew they were excited to have me stay with them. My experience was suddenly digitally bridged to the place and, more importantly, to the people.
Upon arriving in my room, a hand written note from the General Manager welcomed me for my first time to the Plaza. No form letter here and guess what? I’ve framed that note! The point I am trying to make is that when you arrive at a hotel, that experience should be one of authentic welcome, of genuine interest in your story, and a high delivery of service to ensure you get settled in and have your needs met.
Throughout a customer’s experience, does your hotel extend the hotel story beyond the brick and mortar of your location? I see so many opportunities now for hotels to partner and use social networking tools to extend their reach, and extend the customer experience but few brands have cottoned on to this kind of hospitality eco-system if you will.
For instance, are you speaking to vendors, restaurateurs, adventure tourism companies, and local transportation suppliers to link with you, partner with you, and tell your regional story collectively? When your guest leaves your hotel to explore, they will more than likely be also exploring on their smart phones and if your hotel can provide links on their Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare page, and thread these together with key offers with your partners (a whale-watching afternoon followed by a soothing massage for two back at the hotel) you are extending and enriching the experience, spanning their whole stay, well beyond when their head hits the pillow. (And when it does, why not leave a little note asking if they liked their tour and massage?)
One brand I think does a nice job of weaving their story into the customer experience does so in subtle ways that I see over and over in various locations all over the continent. When I pass their housekeeping staff they stop what they are doing, turn to face you, and ask how you are? Genuinely. It took me off guard the first time but now I know, whenever I stay at this brand, their lovely housekeeping staff is going to treat me like a human, and inquire about how I’m doing. It’s a small thing but after a long day at a conference meeting strangers, it’s kind of nice to see a friendly face, even if you’ve only known them two days. It speaks to this brand’s commitment to their entire story and how it impacts their guest experience. It is a matter of attitude and training and really, there’s no excuse not to take the opportunity to extend it beyond the guest door.
When I leave a hotel, I rarely hear from them again. I always wonder, was all that genuine hospitality just to get me in the door? One way to ensure your guest doesn’t feel this way is to send a follow up note. Not a form one without their name, and take a moment to program one of their hotel requests or details into that follow up so they feel the love. What better way to create relationship and more importantly, the opportunity for referral? Using Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch with your guests is in my opinion, a no brainer, but taking the time to build a level of trust that will engender them to talk about you on these channels is really the signal that they loved your hotel story and want to share their customer experience with others.