In recent years guests would simply be happy with a great product and a high level of service and many hospitality business have become very good in these areas.
Now with the availability of information and significant increase in choice, guests are seeking experiences where they feel a connection with your brand and will most certainly enjoy high levels of guest engagement. Hospitality businesses who are engaged with guests are said to receive significant revenue benefits and experience much higher levels of guest loyalty.
Successful hospitality businesses will already have an engagement program in place and will be training colleagues in guest engagement. These businesses will also recognise engaged colleagues and actively seek feedback from guests. There are a number of key steps that can be implemented to improve guest engagement:
1. Have a solid recruitment strategy
Ensure that your recruitment strategy is one of your key focuses in achieving high guest engagement. Look for candidates that not only have the right skills for the job, but also will add value in guest engagement. Focus your questions around the key behaviours that you and your guests are looking for.
2. Engage with your employees
If you want your employees to be engaged, you must first be engaged with them. The old phrase ‘information is power’ is key to success. Give your employees the training and knowledge they require to confidently perform their role and engage with guests.
3. Give your employees something to talk about
Offer topics, phrases and words that your employees can use when engaging with guests. Giving your employees ideas of what to say helps to give them confidence to engage with your guests.
4. Reward ‘engaged’ employees
Do you reward your employees for being engaged? Do you reward employees for being recognised on travel review websites? Do you reward your employees for being named on guest feedback cards? Reward and recognition has traditionally been based around financial targets such as ‘upselling’. Think about recognising employees for being engaged with your guests. Did an employee get named on a travel website or get a high guest feedback score? Recognising your employees creates a buzz for being engaged with guests.
5. Lead by example
You have to show your employees how to be engaged. Spend time talking to your guests and seeking feedback. Show your employees how to approach guests (and when not to) and engage in conversation. Your employees will be far more confident and committed if you are engaged as a manager.
6. Activity seek feedback
Be sure to seek feedback from your guests through in-house programs and international travel websites. If you are not actively seeking feedback, it is difficult to track your progress. Feedback is perhaps the best tool for improvement and be sure to respond to feedback (positive or negative) to acknowledge that you have taking it seriously.
7. Focus your mystery guest program around behavioural standards
If you are accustomed to international mystery guest programs, you will recognise that in recent years the questions which have been added are now focused on behavioural standards as well as traditional service standards. If you have in-house mystery guest programs that do not include behavioural standards, consider changing them. Although it can be difficult to measure behavioural standards, questions such as “Did the employee make eye contact?” or “Did the employee engage in polite conversation?” will be useful to measure how engaged your employees are.