By John R. Hendrie, Hospitality Performance
Once upon a time, our Guest was thrilled with a good mattress, a clean bathroom, and access to a pool. Room amenities and design were not a loss leader, for your prices reflected a recoup of the costs, minimal, as they once were. Then, the evolution began, and you had to be quite clever to gain and retain that competitive edge, cost effectively.You witnessed the changes. A simple tub begat a Jacuzzi, siring the Spa. Cable television accelerated into Movies on Demand. Complimentary coffee in the Lobby morphed into a coffee maker, a fridge and a microwave in every room. Rigid hours for Room Service are now 24/7 with pizza. You participated in the “bedding wars”, extolling your beds, linens, furniture. For some, a budding Cottage Industry was born - anything that moves is for sale.
The Guest Room has become the haven, the Business Center, the Crash Pad, the Love Lair, the extant home away from home. You are doing everything you can to make it special, safe and memorable. But, the evolution continues, as you try to exceed the expectations of the Baby Boomers and the GenX’ers and the forthcoming generations on the horizon. Remarkable Hospitality is a challenge!
If you are not thinking about your lodging operation in the context of the future, you will not exist in that new world. Everything is changing too rapidly - your Guests, your business, your world. To be a pioneer is critical, and to move forward with advantage you must engage the following:
- your Guest
- your own brilliance
- your suppliers/purveyors to the industry
Your Guest wants their connectivity and pleasure in private and comfort in that amorphous domain we have so carefully created for them. They want it all, they want it now, and they want it their way! Your challenge is to marry a high level of service and product to technology, which is the driving force for this evolution.
Ideally, you have a relationship with your Guest, and you have reliable mechanisms to assess your performance and to specifically capture what your Guest really desires for their experience in your operation. By the way, hand-written Comment Cards are not acceptable as you plot your future, for you have lost any real time response value.
Do not underestimate the power and creativity of your own perspective, your management team and fellow associates. The challenge is that you need to take some time and think outside that four wall box. No excuses; you have all the time there is, and group exercises with no boundaries create energy, commitment and, surprisingly, some very fine ideas. Another ingredient is curiosity. If you are not well read and informed, you are operating in a vacuum (a Hooverite, gathering the detritus of the Past).
So, now, believe you have some wonderful ideas, culled from your Guests and your own in-house resources. Some may sound far-fetched (akin to man on the moon), while others appear sound, reasonable applications. This is where we can turn to our partners, the vendors and purveyors. They share in your success, and they can help you actualize the possibilities.
What is already in the marketplace is extraordinary. Naturally, security, privacy and reliability are crucial. Some companies are “cutting edge” with their products and acumen. What follows is not an endorsement, merely an acknowledgement of the “future being now”. One company I have watched, GBCBlue, features an automated Personal E-Room Concierge system, which simply beats the band! Beyond regular PC usage for the Guest, there is a screen entry to share with Management their thoughts about the stay. As it is real time, Management also has an opportunity to demonstrate active service recovery for any shortcoming/concern. The screen also has increased Room Service Revenue threefold, using appetizing pictures for all menu items. Additionally, there is wonderful opportunity to tout property amenities, activities and services, and make reservations and purchases - right there on the Room PC, real time, up close, interactive and personal. Guest pleasing, Management proceeds. WOW!
As another example of the “future being now” pertains to the Green Movement and the very simple light bulb, which creates comfort and illumination, as we know. The Fresh BulbTM , developed by Auro Technical Consumer Products and introduced to the industry by Pineapple Hospitality, is a titanium dioxide-coated fluorescent light bulb that consumes one-fourth the wattage of a regular light bulb—cutting lighting costs by as much as 77 %. The coating reacts with the fluorescent lighting when the bulb is turned on, eliminating room odors within minutes. Another certifiable WOW. Just imagine - good lighting, reduced costs and a clean smelling room.
Innovation and creativity spur societies forward, and businesses which embrace a better way, anticipate and project the needs and wants of the marketplace, and invest in the vigor of their people prosper. Hospitality is not usually in the forefront for change. However, the world stage and unchartered events all challenge our comfort zone. We simply cannot afford to be complacent.
Our Guests and Visitors are far more demanding than in the past. Ladling out the same old, same old simply does not cut it! Hopefully, the business of the summer months has been encouraging, and we will take some time to assess what we have learned from our Guests, tap ourselves and our resources for new ideas, and partner with companies which support our business to advance new generations of thought and product. The Guest Room is the lab; this is where new products are created for the comfort, security and sensibility of our raison d’etre - the Guest.