In every aspect of the customer service industry, the goal is to provide the greatest possible experience to the customer the first time around. However, it’s how you respond when your customers are not having an ideal experience that will ultimately tell your brand’s story–often through online reviews and word of mouth. To put it another way, a guest having a bad day has always been an opportunity for your hotel to win over a fiercely loyal customer.
A Simplified Example
Think of it like this: A hotel guest who enjoys a flawless stay will be happy, but perhaps not much more happy than they are when they drive their car down the road and the car doesn’t break down. This happy guest may be loyal, but the next time they’re in town they might just as easily stay in another hotel. Maybe a friend will recommend the other hotel, or maybe the guest will be offered a discount there. When this customer stayed at your hotel, they expected a good experience and they received one.
Now consider the guest whose day is going very badly. Maybe their flight was delayed. The airline lost their luggage. The cab ride to your hotel was a nightmare, and traffic was terrible. This is all a hypothetical exaggeration, but you get the idea. Then they arrive at your hotel, and there’s a problem with their reservation, and the only room you have open is far more expensive than the one the guest says they booked.
Think quickly! Because the way that you handle a flustered guest is so critical. Do you insist that your software is right and offer the available room at full price (or an inconsequential discount)? Or do you give this guest the benefit of the doubt?
Again, this is a hypothetical situation, but try to imagine being in the guest’s shoes. Imagine that the hotel staff not only upgraded the guest for free, but because the guest was so flustered, the staff checked in with that guest throughout her stay. Maybe the staff sent flowers, complimentary tickets to a show, or a gift card to a restaurant. Because that guest had been at such a low point when she checked in, her high point is going to feel so much higher to her now.
Wedding Party and Other COVID-Related Cancellations
An opportunity that presents itself during the COVID-19 pandemic is that of wedding parties who have to “change the dates.” What a terrible experience for these customers! The wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest in a lifetime. There is so much planning, anticipation, stress, and drama boiled up into one crazy event. To have this event indefinitely postponed is even more stressful and terrible. But there is opportunity in the way that the hotel responds when the customer calls to postpone or cancel.
Other opportunities are everywhere. With every guest, you are given the chance to shine. While this may sound unnecessarily motivational or hokey, think of it this way: The first half of 2020 has been filled with so much uncertainty, anxiety, and isolation. So many travel plans have been cancelled. People are stressed out. They miss visiting beautiful cities and staying in luxurious hotels. They want to sleep in, order room service, book a spa day, lie on the beach, or catch a show.
It has been quite some time since there has been a chance like there is now for your hotel to put the emotional well-being of your guests over profit. So if you ever start to forget, just put yourself in the shoes of someone who had planned on getting married this year and then, due to the coronavirus, you had to rebook your wedding. Now go and use that perspective to allow your hotel’s service to shine.