Beyond great guest service: The caring advantage

Beyond great guest service: The caring advantage

In the boutique hotel world, caring for your guests as opposed to just “serving them well” can be the great equalizer to your larger and/or national chain competitors with their huge marketing budgets funded by large key counts and franchise fees. Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and other programs are designed to create “brand” customer loyalty. Boutique hotels need to realize that our personalized treatment of each and every customer as though they are guests in our own home will be much more powerful than any airline-inspired Hilton Honors program. 

Successful marketing is simply defined as communicating to your target audiences that you are different from your competition; therefore, you are the only choice for those seeking what your product offers. Essentially differentiating your boutique hotel from all other lodging options in your competitive set is the goal, and unique approaches to customer service can accomplish this despite being an independent, non-flagged property with a limited marketing budget.  

Boutique hotels are often at a disadvantage when it comes to payroll and expense efficiencies and vendor rate negotiations, but one place where we have a distinct advantage is in guest service, so we need to exploit it! The “caring advantage” is about service points that are significantly easier to train and achieve at the boutique hotel level:

  • Anticipating the guest’s needs
  • Asking his or her name only once, then using it frequently
  • Gathering guest intelligence before, during and after one’s stay
  • Applying each guest preferences, special occasions, requests and history to create a culture in which guests do not have to repeat themselves
  • Empowering hotel associates to handle basic guest situations, avoiding escalation to a manager
Each of the above items are rarely — if ever — achieved at larger resorts and hotels but must be at a boutique hotel to set it apart and create strong guest loyalty. I’ll continue to explore this concept over the course of couple of weeks. In my next blog I will outline how to train staff to genuinely care and how to put systems into place to ensure that the training is working.  I will wrap up this series with a look at the intangible long-term financial benefits of making the fundamental switch from a service orientation to caring. I hope you’ll stay tuned!