5 hospitality tips that will improve your business.
Robin Hawksworth - December 20th 2017
In case you missed it, the hospitality industry has been slowly changing over the last few years as it tries to redress the balance of its operations. The adopted 'shareholder first' businesses model mixed with the implementation of high-tech systems had dramatically dumbed down many human touch points, pushed down wages and reduced workforce numbers. The emotional aspects had all but disappeared from the daily operation, relying on 'faked moments' to plaster over the fractures in its now skeletal operations. Luckily a realisation has started re-building genuine trust and human interactions for the future, resulting in a renewed focus in enhancing human interactions in the below five key touch points.
So why should you care?
Well you sell to human beings too... (in case you have forgotten) It does not matter what you sell or how many layers of tech are between you and the customer. No amount of money, branding or marketing will ever mask over your lacking in these areas.
1- Recognise. (fast, genuine and honest)
The most important thing for anyone today is to be recognised. When you walk into a restaurant and within three seconds you are acknowledged with a verbal welcome or at least eye contact then you feel immediately comfortable. Leave this longer and many people get agitated. Fast recognition equates to a feeling of genuine service, genuine service leads to longer visits, longer visits equates to higher customer spends. (Including tips.)
This first interaction should always be seen as the starting point of any relationship, be this one that lasts a lifetime or only a few short hours. The hospitality industry knows this, so all efforts are made to interact immediately and use a name quickly as it breaks down barriers... A reservation, a conference name tag, a simply question, monitoring third party conversations or a luggage tag are all good places to find out.
We all now live in our comfortable on-line bubble of our own making that puts us all at the centre of our world.... Some people feel that you should recognise them, after all they are Insta-famous with 10,000 followers. This produces challenges, especially those who run an on-line first business. How do you recognise us immediately? Start to review the ways you create human interaction's on-line.
How do you use names or welcome someone back without trying to obtain an email or attach a cookie that re-targets them everywhere they go. Oh, by the way! - this does not build trust. Imagine if a stalker recognised you and followed you along the street, you would get nervous and try to get away fast... So what's the difference?
2- Advice. (help me, advice me, listen to me)
There are so many opportunities to advise and adapt products for your customers.
A good waiter will ask questions and read customer reactions, they know when to offer help, when to reassure and when to advice on dish changes that can be made. Personal service can only be offered if you are willing to listen first.
Most people that visit you for the first time probably would appreciate some advice. Not in a way that pushes them towards what you want them to buy but in a way that coerces them into a place they are comfortable with. Promoting a genuine approach of understanding for your customers will build trust fast.
From a business point of view, by offering unique options that suit all pockets and taste, you can increase your revenues too. It is all about that moment you go into a coffee shop and the barrister's story is so convincing you end up trying a $35 Kopi-Luwak cup of coffee for that once in a life-time experience. Remarkably you both win.
3-Deliver. (Do exactly what you say on the tin)
Be truthful, it is that simple. So many business try to convey an image of themselves or their products as vastly different from what/who they actually are. Your product is probably not 'life-changing' and stock photos of an office that does not exist should be avoided.
It is all about delivering your product to us correctly, on-time, safe, with a perceived value and exactly as your description mention it is. Do this and you are on to a winner.
Remember also to be honest with your customers. Deliver what you say you would and if something does go wrong (& it will) then tell us.
4- Consistency. (without this you are nothing)
As a customer if you returned to a restaurant and the food was different, that amazing wagyu beef was not available again, the service was different or the food took twice as long as last time then your opinion of the experience changes immediately. Remarkably it takes very few seconds or moments of inconsistency to convince anyone that you have changed.
While this is an area most people feel they can control by frequent checks, strict standards and quality control implementations, they often forget the two biggest threats.... their people and any sudden growth in their business. Surprisingly not many people design for growth so when it arrives, consistency is often the first area to fail. Have you ever had an amazing breakfast in a hotel only to be met the next morning by a queue, employees under stress and a myriad of conference groups getting up to leave at the same time...? I have.
Design your websites, your places of work and your infrastructure around delivering to your customers on a consistent basis no matter how busy you are...
If the billing procedure is the last interaction you have with your customer then you loose.
We all love to have wonderful experiences in life, be this a great meal, a holiday or enjoying our new car. We do however, at some point have buyers remorse or at least 'bill-payers' remorse. The handing over of our hard earned money makes our last transaction business based. If you can add an emotional connection after this point it adds personal value to you rather than a monetary value.
How can you thank me? What can you offer me? What direction would you like our relationship to go in? Do you want the customer to buy from you again?
In an Indian restaurants in Qatar they offer a carved or jewelled stone elephant to customers after the bill was paid. The customers could over-time add to their collection if they returned but more importantly it starts a conversation between the guests and the restaurant manager offering the elephant, as well as between the group themselves. It becomes about the elephants and not the the bill.
Thank you for reading the above. I hope it was useful for some of you in and that you take the time to look at better ways to engage with your customers in each of the five touch points areas mentioned above.
Good luck in 2018 and please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly at the bottom of this page.