Satisfaction as capital: empathy and knowledge of human nature are core competencies of modern hotel employees
A satisfied guest is the best advertisement a hotel could wish for. If guests have felt comfortable during their stay, they like to come back and pass on their positive experience with a house. But dissatisfied guests also advertise a hotel, even if it is unlikely to be particularly positive. Guest satisfaction is therefore the greatest asset that a hotel can work with. Whether a guest perceives their stay as pleasant, however, is an extremely individual question. In addition to the basic standards that are expected of a good house, it is the many small things that can make the decisive difference, and unfortunately, they cannot be written down in a general manual.
For employees in the hotel industry, a fundamental rethink is required. The guest must be recognized as an individual and picked up with his or her personal wishes and expectations. In particular, employees who have direct contact with the guest should therefore be trained to provide very personal support and have the competence to recognize the needs of a guest before he has formulated them himself. In this way, a real feel-good atmosphere can be created during the hotel stay, which means that guests like to come back.
Satisfaction is a very personal matter
Hoteliers and their employees can discover anew every day that not every guest is the same. The wishes and expectations that guests have of their hotel stay are as varied as they are individual and the first impression can often be deceptive. Often a tiny stumbling block such as a coffee that is too cold at breakfast is enough and the guest feels as if they have left their personal comfort zone.
The “Hotel Pain Index 2017” study by the American provider of rating technology, Qualtrics, has shown that more than one in three hotel guests leaves not completely satisfied. 66 percent of the study participants complained that they did not find their room to be clean enough. An uncomfortable bed bothered 56 percent of the guests surveyed. For 57 percent, unfriendly treatment by the hotel staff clouded their stay. Also, additional costs that have not been clearly announced are often a reason that guests are annoyed with their host. At least 51 percent of those questioned in the study stated that they had already been invoiced more frequently for items that were not clearly shown as additional costs in advance.
Basically, the study has shown that houses with 5, 4, or 3 stars, in particular, can show a high level of guest satisfaction. 1 to 2-star hotels, on the other hand, often find it difficult to adequately meet the needs of their guests. The reason for this, in addition to inadequate hotel equipment, is often given as a certain carelessness of the hotel staff towards the guests. Accordingly, guests now want to be looked after much more individually than they did a few years ago. In the ideal case, this means recognizing the individual wishes of the guest at an early stage and aligning the entire stay with them as well as possible. A lot of sensitivity and a good understanding of people are required here, and decisions often have to be made within a few seconds. This presents hotel employees with a major challenge every day, which can determine the long-term success of a hotel.
Also deal professionally with complaints
No matter how well-trained the hotel staff is, there will always be dissatisfied guests because all wishes cannot be read in the eyes. Whether a complaint is justified or not, it is crucial to deal professionally with negative feedback. First and foremost, this means taking the guest seriously with their complaint and giving them the feeling that their concerns are important. It is therefore important today that all hotel employees who maintain personal contact with guests are trained at least in basic aspects of complaint management. If a guest is annoyed about something, for example, an unclean room or a dish that was not to his taste, he will express his displeasure to the first hotel employee he has to deal with. That may be the maid, the waiter in the restaurant, or the employee taking orders in-room service. So that a small complaint does not lead to general dissatisfaction, the first impression the guest gets of how a hotel deals with their concerns counts. If a complaint has to be forwarded to the complaint management department until the guest finds a contact person who takes him seriously with his complaint, it may already be too late for this.
For hotel employees, this means first and foremost to maintain a professional distance and not to feel attacked by the guest’s complaint. This can be particularly difficult in the case of unjustified complaints or very aggressive behavior on the part of the guest. Regular training in professional complaint management and the correct handling of difficult or very emotional guests can give employees the tools they need to be able to behave professionally in every unpleasant situation and to give the guest the feeling that they are familiar with feels his complaint is being taken seriously.
Of course, many a complaint is justified, because even in the best hotels, mistakes can happen in the daily routine that affects the satisfaction of the guests. In this case, it is important to admit the failure to openly apologize to the guest and offer them compensation. This can be a special service provided by the hotel, such as a free meal, a bottle of wine in your room or a visit to the spa, or an external event at the hotel’s expense. In the event of more serious defects, the hotel can and should, under certain circumstances, offer the guest a reduction in the cost of the stay. If this happens before the guest himself points out a reduction in defects, this can leave a very positive impression. An overview of complaints about travel defects and the associated claims for damages are defined in the so-called Frankfurt table.
Employees in the German hotel industry adapt to their guests more individually
Fortunately, the German hotel industry recognized the signs of the times early enough and a few years ago it prepared itself for very individual care of its guests. The reason for this is not only the increasing competition but also the transparency that independent rating portals create on the Internet. Thousands of hotel reviews can be viewed with just a few clicks on internet portals such as Tripadvisor or Hotelevaluation. This is a very popular service for guests, but for the hotel itself, it means a lot of pressure because every rating counts. The growing transparency also holds a lot of potentials, because those who know the wishes and expectations of their guests can react accordingly.