Three more ‘missing senses’ in guest experience

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post entitled ‘The Three Missing Senses,’ describing a few essential qualities that were lacking from a recently renovated branded property. I outlined the three critical senses of the guest experience that every hotelier should be aware of, namely:

  1. A sense of place
  2. A sense of welcome
  3. A sense of hospitality

With this trio as a start, here are three more senses that were missing at the property in question. While they are not as plainly evident to the guest, they should be embraced by every general manager as well as his or her senior team.

4. A sense of empowerment. This I inferred from the degree to which each associate felt motivated to candidly interact with guests. If your staff are not involved or relating to your guests, it may have to do with a lack of empowerment. Staff that are afraid to do anything wrong or have a fear of stepping a little out of line will typically follow the responsibilities within their job descriptions and no more. Empowerment starts at the entry level. A team that is not able to participate in making minor decisions nor able to deviate from the standard reflects an overbearing level of top-down control. The buck stops at the GM’s desk but each associate still contributes a cent or two, so challenge your leadership style to reflect a flatter hierarchy extolled in today’s workplace.

5. A sense of community. With the guest suites pretty much devoid of any literature save for a copy of the omnipresent Where magazine, there was little to tell me that the property had any interest or responsibility to its local community. ‘Stark’ is what the designers would probably call it. Looking around, there were no pins on lapels on staff uniforms and no sponsorship accolades behind the front desk. In effect, the property lacked a sense of community, which not only demotivates staff but subtly communicates to guests that the hotel is probably not an expert on local experiences. As a point of clarification, I identify this as different to ‘a sense of place,’ which defines a location, because this shows your overall involvement within the locale.

6. A sense of sustainability. I could not tell if the property had any recycling program in place, any defined water/energy savers, LEED certifications or any other environmental-focused efforts. I cannot imagine that any 21st century renovation would ignore these elements, as over time the post-conversion lowered energy consumption levels typically result in huge savings in addition to good will. Sustainability embraces not just our local community, but more broadly the entire globe, and it is important for hotels as leaders to help move us all towards a more balanced future.

Many readers have written to me to ask the name of the hotel. Out of respect for the staff, I will not publish it, but as always will respond to direct requests.