The Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away …

The Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away ?

All credit for the above lyric belongs to John Winston Lennon and Sir Paul James McCartney of The Beatles, but I mean no copyright infringement here. In this case we are referring to the value of your current mystery shopper program. Is your program one that dots the “i,” crosses the “t” and fills in the same checklist that could be transferable to any hotel in your comp set? Or is your shopper program designed to measure the magic one experiences at your hotel? Yes, magic. 

Here are two definitions of magic from Encarta Dictionary:

  • inexplicable things: a special, mysterious or inexplicable quality, talent or skill 
  • practice of magic: the use of supposed supernatural power to make impossible things happen
What could be a better barometer for predicting a hotel’s success than kudos from guests or meeting planners saying, “That hotel works magic”? (No need to hire Harry Potter as the GM — being amazing with people is in everyone’s power.)    

Creating distinction in every area of the organization is what will separate you from your competition. Friendliness and clean rooms are to hotels what seats and safety instructions are to airlines. They are part of the expectation. Every hotel works hard to meet the basics. I suggest doing the right things right is not enough anymore. It is time to reinvent what hospitality looks like and feels like for hotels that wish to go from good to great.

In order to revitalize Mystery Shops, I replaced current SOPs with SIPs (Simply Inspirational Procedures) where current processes are transformed into experiences. As an example, how could you transform the departure process into a departure ritual? Hint: Providing the guest with the correct bill in a timely manner is the process. What is the experience in place? Does it end with “Have a nice day …?”

How people perform depends upon the structures in place that do or do not call forth excellence. Whether your hotel is branded or not, you can have a clear and strong identity in your marketplace. Once you establish that, create the distinctions that drive the SIPs, and let these drive what you measure on your shops. Are your shops currently designed to measure the honesty of the bartender, effectiveness of your preventative maintenance programs and how many times the guest’s name was used? That is all fine. Just note it is hotel-centric. A guest-centric survey would also include a way to measure heightened experience.  

There is one national supermarket chain that uses my name whenever they hand me the receipt. They tell me how much I saved (off the prices they jacked up). Their aisles are well-marked, and people escort me to ripe avocados when I can’t find them. All good and well, but when I go shopping, that market is the last place I wish to shop — using my name and ripe avocados just aren’t enough. The overall experience and feeling isn’t there for me. I prefer the markets that have a distinctive identity — they may cost more or not, they might be farmers’ markets or places with daily tastings or a culture that is more engaging than robotic. There are many reasons people may shop at Whole Foods, but one thing is certain: Their stores are designed around a story and the experience they wish to evoke. You trade in a little more from your wallet in exchange for a conscious or subconscious notion that you belong to a group that is more aware, conscious and healthy.

The Mystery Shopper concept is a sound one. I recommend making it a profound one. Create the type of service that kicks the current concept of customer satisfaction to the curb and replace it with a culture of SIPs that creates raving fans. 
As always, I encourage you to tap into the potential of your organization for “cult like” guest loyalty.

Magic, my foot …