Let me tell you something about spending Christmas abroad

For the first time since I started this blog in 2013, I will write about personal matters instead of focusing on one of those trending THE-MORE-YOU-KNOW topics.

Christmas abroad.

I think it could be a great subject for an essay: “How do you imagine Christmas abroad?”; lines and lines about hoz Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world; well, this seems to be interesting… but it is not really my point today (but you may recognize that it is a great excuse to filling some more lines on this texts… whatever)

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Customer service’s Tip

It’s wednesday, excellent moment for a Customer Service’s Tip.

This week, my post has been inspired by the blogProvide Support. They make an excellent review of 20 key points when talking about customer service.

Front Desk Challenges (II) Training vs Hiring

When working at a Hotel Front Desk, we all know that we are the presentation of our property; we are the guest’s first contact upon arrival so that the way we do the check in represents the guest’s first impression.

This is a quite big responsibility.

But on the other hand, Hotel Front Desk involves different challenges apart from the main one (the guests); I already talked about treating drunk guests in the first post of this series. Today I would like to introduce the second challenge.

What is more difficult? Training the current employees to renovate a procedure or hiring a new employee for the company?

Challenges when hiring new employees

Hiring a new Front Desk Agent involves tasks like professional research, professional selection, developing inducting process, and additionally, taking risks.

  • Professional research will be done according to the Front Desk Agent’s Job Description. It means that it will be important to make a proper description of the tasks that the position will involve; this will make life easier both for candidates to understand what they are asked to do and for hotels to know if the candidate’s profile is adequate or not.
  • Professional selection involves the evaluation of candidates’ profiles and searching for the best one among what we have preselected.
  • Inducting process are not less important that a proper professional research. We may think about creating activities that let the new employee being easily and quickly adapted to the new team. In an ideal scenario, the company can involve the whole staff in inducting new employees.
  • Evaluating the performance of our candidates will let us know if we have found what we were looking for or if, on the contrary, we still have to keep searching.

Hiring challenges at the Front Desk - Hotelsbyjavier.com

Whether we are searching a Front Desk Agent whether we look for an Assistant Manager, every single professional research involves taking risks. We must accept that searching, selecting, inducting and evaluating new employees means that we risk our time (if the candidate is finally not adequate) and our money (hiring process are not for free)

Challenges when training new employees

When talking about training, we may take into account that we take fewer risks than when we hire new employees. Training will involve tasks like developing process, communication process and evaluation process.

Training challenges - Hotelsbyjavier.com

When I talk about developing I refer to thinking about what we are doing (Point A), what we could do instead (Point B) and what we need to do to go from A to B.

We may review any organizational chart, any procedure, any result that we think it could help to find out what can be improved. Point B needs to be imagined how things would be, how results could be improved, how procedures could change. The path from A to B is only doable if we are able to make real what we have thought.

In this case, we count on the employees that know each other and know the company they work for. Within a good training process, a good communication process will be needed: tasks like teaching, motivating and encouraging people by showing them that by doing so, results will be better, job will be more comfortable, etc.

We may add a final step when implementing new procedures: evaluation. If we need to implement new procedures properly, we will have to rate if what we have obtained is better / worst / the same than before; we will have to evaluate if the procedures are applied as we need, in order to detect any divergence; at the end of the process of evaluation, we will be able to decide whether is worth to keep the new procedure or if is better to return to point A and start thinking again.

What is more difficult?

Once we have analysed the core of a Human Resources policy, we may ask ourselves if it is more difficult to hire than to train employees.

In my opinion, a good Human Resources policy must balance hiring with training. It is not worth to keep our staff without any kind of learning, updating knowledge or improving performances (in summary, without what in some languages is called “recycling”)

As well as it is not worth to not to be able to hiring employees when we approach a seasonal peak. It is obvious that we work for an Industry that faces many types of unexpected situations… for example, our staff can unexpectedly leave the company so that we will be forced to engage staff quickly (and not good enough, probably)

We must take into account that both hiring and training involve different challenges. It means that we will have to make different efforts to face each one; both hiring and training are really difficult in a different way.

But in my opinion, if we analyse a perfect model (in which a front desk has the ideal front desk agents), training the agents is much less expensive than hiring new front desk agents. If we count on the ideal front desk agents, professional  people that know and apply the procedures with accuracy and efficacity… try to find a candidate that is able to develop a performance with the same level of quality. You will need to spend time (and money, do not forget about money) to reach the same level of accuracy… and you will need to wait until the new front desk agents are able to provide customer service with the same level.

However, this is not what it really happens in general. Have you ever realised the high turnover rate that exists in general at the Front Desk? Well, there are many reasons why the employees come and go in a Front Desk quite often; I will not analyse them today, because it is a matter a personal choice, personal priorities, career choices, career opportunities…

My question is: if hiring a new employee is much more expensive than training your actual employees (in terms of money, in terms of time, in terms of organisation) why do not we try to reduce this “turnover rate“? I am sure that if the management is able to find professional agents whose performance is high, it will be possible to reduce human resources costs by creating internal “professional development” programs that let these people develop their qualities and improve their skills.

Javier Guijarro Segado
www.hotelsbyjavier.com
fjavierguise@gmail.com


RECOMMENDED READING: “The cost of turnover; Putting a price on the learning curve”, Timothy R. Hinkin & J. Bruce Tracey (Scholarly Commons of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration)

Is it possible to have a 100% personalized hotel?

I found an article on LinkedIn written by Rupesh Patel: “The power of personalization; Rupesh Patel, Review Expert, Hotelier and Consultant, speaks about the importance of product personalization in business. It gives many ideas about this concept so I found it recommendable.

The truth is that personalization is a real challenge for people who work for this industry. Why I say this?

The answer is very simple. The technological revolution we are currently living gives us the opportunity to have a mobile phone in the color we want, with the apps we desire, in the language we need at any time, wherever we wish, whatever we like; it happens with many other consumer products as well: computers, televisions, cars, clothes… nearly all consumer products that are nowadays in the market have a high-level of personalization.

This means that the possibility of personalize a product has become one of the variables that a consumer takes into account when making a decision during the purchasing process. Before going further into this idea, let’s review the main particularities of a Hotel Room, defined by Hotel Marketing and Revenue Management basics:

  • Limited inventory
  • High-investment is needed to increase the inventory
  • We may define different market segments
  • The demand shows seasonal changes
  • They are perishable

Is it possible to personalize a Hotel Room at 100%?

To answer this question, let’s quickly talk about the characteristics of a Hotel Room and then I will show my conclusion. A 56 rooms Hotel cannot sell more than 56 rooms for one night; this hotel cannot afford an increase on the demand that requests 60 rooms, even if the rooms are sold in advance; to increase the room inventory, a high investment is needed.

This hotel can decide if the 56 rooms are sold to leisure travelers, or if there will be a part of the inventory that will be reserve to congress; or if there will be an allotment for tour operators.

In addition, according to the location of this hotel, we will need to take into account the climate, economic, social and cultural factors, that will cause eventual demand increases or decreases.

And finally, a Hotel Room is perishable. This means that the Hotel Room that is not sold today cannot be sold tomorrow. Because even if we sell it tomorrow, we will have lost the revenue that we could have earn if we had succeeded to sell it today. It is not possible for us to “stock” a Hotel Room and sell it another day.

This characteristic differentiates a Hotel Room from other consumer products; we cannot face changes on demand as other activities do, because the inventory cannot be easily changed to be adapted.

In my opinion, Hotel Rooms represent the main revenue center of a Hotel; they have specific characteristics that make impossible the task of personalizing them at 100%; the button that can change the color in the walls in few seconds still does not exist; as well as we cannot install a zoo in the roof even if a guest affirms that he needs this to have a personal experience in our property; in conclusion, we will be able to offering a personal experience to our guests if our facilities let us reach the requests.

Are we able to personalize a Hotel Service at 100%?

If Hotel Rooms are the main revenue center of a Hotel, what represents the “soul”?

A hotel soul is composed by the attitudes of its employees; a guest can reach the best hotel in the world with the best facilities, the best restaurant, the best bar, the best spa, the best casino, and best rooms… all this will become second-rate facilities if the service does not keep up.

I believe that great service details (like a warming smile when a guest reach the reception), are the dimension in which a hotel can offer a 100% personalized experience to the guests: may the room does not have the color desired by the guest; but if Mr Johnson arrive to the room and he finds a hand-written card that says: “Welcome home, Mr Johson”, may he realize that his stay in this property is about to be something unforgettable.

To finish with, it means to me that we have all the cards over the table; we cannot pretend to personalize our facilities according to every different guest (this is not affordable) but (and this is one of those wonderful “but”…) we have a huge range of possibilities related to High-Standing Customer Service. It is not expensive, it is not perishable, it is not limited; and it will contribute to loyalty our guests, contributing to Hotel Revenue and ensuring the Business Sustainability.

Javier Guijarro Segado
www.hotelsbyjavier.com
fjavierguise@gmail.com


RESSOURCES:

The Management of Hotel Operations, Peter Jones, Andrew Lockwood

The power of personalization, Rupesh Patel

Customer service’s Tip

“Outstanding service is made up of a thousand little things a company and its members do day in and day out that a customer may not notice… until you stop doing them”

Conrad Strachan

The Food Truck Company Aucland – New Zealand

Taken from “Cheat sheet for rostering” on goroster.com

Customer service’s Tip

Every wednesday a new tip about customer service; some ideas, texts or pieces of advice to improving the quality of our Customer Service. Today we find a text that is commonly found in Customer Service books and magazines; the authorship is not clear because we find some references to Mahatma Gandhi whereas it is possible for us to find some references to Kenneth B. Elliott. Anyway, it remains a text that deserves our attention if we work in Hospitality Industry.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so”

– Author not confirmed –

Selling better, increasing sales

We need to be concentrated on the quality that the guests experience when they come to our hotel. The experience needs to be good enough so that guests will speak well about the hotel to their friends and family; in the best scenario, hotels must be able to provide a perfect service so that in case guests repeat destination, they will choose the same hotel.

I am among the people for who customer service is a priority that can always be better. But in order to provide the service, first of all we need to develop an essential commercial service: selling rooms.

If we do not sell our rooms, any service may be provided.

There are three different channels throw which we may sell our rooms:

  • At the front desk
  • By telephone
  • By internet

Every channel is different and request a specific infrastructure.

AT THE FRONT DESK

At the front desk of a hotel we may put Price lists at disposal, with descriptions and photographies of the different room categories; this information will be useful in order to helping the receptionists and the concierges to finish their sales.

BY TELEPHONE

Telephones make the hotel contactable 24/24. If the hotel does not have employees 24/24, we may install a recorder center so that messages will be registered in order to keeping contacts about new possible reservations.

BY INTERNET

Then we may speak about selling rooms by internet. Internet offers many options that can be simplified as per follow:

  • Selling rooms through hotel’s web site
  • Promoting rooms through different web sites

Selling rooms online presents the same advantage that selling rooms by telephone: it makes possible a 24/24 contact. But there is a nuance: selling rooms online removes some of the barriers that are found when we analyze room sales by telephone:

  • While telephone requests our employees to be formed in different languages if we want to reach different target markets, selling rooms online ease the creation of a web site in different languages.
  • Selling rooms by telephone has the limitation of how many lines are available and how many lines remain available when the guests call. Selling rooms online remove these two barrier.

Selling rooms online (directly without any intermediaries) has many advantages but it does not mean that every strategy will be successful.

What does a successful selling room online’ strategy depend on?

The answer is repeated on every web site about selling strategies or about key factors of hotel marketing.

  • Design of our web site
  • Web positioning
  • Place efficient advertising on target web sites

However, there is much more than that. When talking about increasing sales, there is a common point for all different channels: price strategy.

Our employees may be perfectly formed, our web site may be at the search engine’s top 1; if we have these but our prices are not “well done”, we may not sell anything.

In conclusion, it means that coordination is needed between the different selling channels (knowing which one reports more clients), and overall, it is necessary to communicate between reservations, marketing and revenue management department to develop a good selling rooms online’ strategy.

Javier Guijarro Segado
www.hotelsbyjavier.com
fjavierguise@gmail.com


Related to this…

“Estudie cómo actúan los clientes en la red”, article in spanish written by Alba Casilda on expansion.com, 20-02-2015

“5 Simple Ways To Improve Hotel Sales In A Lousy Economy”, Neil Salerno on Hotel Marketing Coach

“How hotels can sell more rooms online”, article on eHotelier.com, 18-02-2015

“Sales Tactics Do Create Customer Experiences”, Errol Allen’s Blog on Errol Allen Consulting