Your hotel should be up for an Oscar
What makes certain celebrities stand out from all others? Certainly, their talent, but there is a veritable pool of talent that exists on the planet that forever goes untapped. The best-loved celebrities with the largest fan base have that certain something — that distinction that has them stand out above the rest and keeps us coming back for more. They provide an experience we are after — the way we feel when either listening to them or watching them. We feel a certain way because of who they are. Folks, it is the same with hotels.
Stand out in what you do, and people will pay for it.
Why are hotels trending toward the lifestyle game? They want you to “feel” something different in their hotel. Through their distinctive positioning and culture they create an opportunity to connect to a guest in the way other hotels aren’t, thereby distinguishing themselves from the commodity sell in their competitive set. For owners, this is good news. The guest’s choice to return to that hotel and tell others about it is because of the way it made them feel, if in fact you can make them “feel” like a celebrity.
I liken hotels to celebrities, and in my consulting practice we reposition hotels to deliver a culture that caters to celebrities — in this case, your garden-variety guest. There are several ways of getting guests to drive revenue to your hotel and get them to be raving fans. All celebrities have raving fans. You can too.
Along with repositioning (we’ll discuss breaking ground in an upcoming article), take a look at your culture. Can you define it? Could the proverbial “fly on the wall” do so as well? Is it clearly guest-centric and, if so — and this question is the big one — is it recognizably distinctive from your competitors?
The first time I undertook this exercise, we started with the low-hanging fruit. We put about 20 people in a room from all areas of the hotel. We talked about what it would take for us to be number one in our competitive set and how to drop our TripAdvisor ratings into the single-digit category. One by one, we created the big “wow” at guest touchpoints not from what we were limited by in terms of space and dollars, but worked from the experience out. Once we got out of the space-money box, we were free to create a culture that catered to driving experience, and then we managed to create the experience with no or very little extra cost. Any extra cost was minimal compared to ROI we planned for.
Celebrities have a way about them that they have cultivated. The term “cultivate” is rooted in the word “culture.” I cannot stress this enough. Collapsing the terms training and culture together is like the “knee bone is connected to the ankle bone.” They are tied together but have extremely different functions.
Your culture is who you are. What you stand for. If you stand for what all other hotels stand for in terms of a commodity — basic cleanliness, rewards programs, service delivery times, using the guests’ names three times, flavored water in the living room, you will have a nice hotel and be able to compete in an average way among average hotels — maybe even be first amongst the average.
C’mon, don’t we all want more than that? Don’t we want to be ahead of the game by more than a nose, always running the same race? Without delivering true distinction, you can be assured of your place among the masses. Let the concept and culture of celebrity service take you over the top to where you want to be.
Distinction should be evident in every guest interaction. Celebrities don’t walk into a room. They take over the room. Likewise, your guest shouldn’t merely check in — they should be blown away by the welcome they feel.