Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim this, few truly understand the complicated steps, processes, and investments required to create the hospitality experience they claim to want. So, how do you infuse hospitality in your business?
What Does “Hospitality” Really Mean?
I used to say hospitality means CARING. But even that seems too broad. And hard to grasp. So, here are a few examples of the actions that express hospitality to your guest, customer, or traveler.
Creating a real hospitality experience means dropping the extra towels in your guest’s room after you have said you would (after you commit to it). It means that, when the internet in your hotel is not working, you proactively communicate to ALL your guests so they can properly prepare.
Hospitality also means that, after you have promised to take a day of resort charges off the bill for the inconvenience of broken internet, you actually do it. You do not “forget about it.” Nor do you make your guest remind you about your promise, or make your guest feel anxious over whether you will keep your promise.
By now, I hope you see the theme of trust in these examples. In this context, hospitality is easy to understand. Hospitality means following through on your promises. It is walking the walk. And putting your money where your mouth is.
If the Hospitality Experience is So Simple, Why is it Hard to Do Consistently?
Hospitality is hard to put into consistent practice because, behind each commitment you make, there is organizational complexity required to deliver on that commitment.
Let’s go back to the towels example. In order for the housekeeper to drop off the extra towels, she needs to genuinely CARE about making the guest happy. That means she needs to go the extra mile and interrupt her original flow of cleaning rooms and go to the guest’s room. She needs to enter, despite the sign that says “Do Not Disturb,” because she REMEMBERS the specific request to drop the towels without cleaning the room. This also means that the housekeeper is selfless. She is not bothered by the fact that she may not receive a big tip, since she is not there to clean the room. In other words, the housekeeper will, essentially, drop the towels “for free”.
Now, to get that kind of mentality in a workforce, you need days of hospitality training; daily rituals for supervisors and managers to keep the hospitality standards top of mind; and, perhaps, a payment structure that is more sophisticated than tips to incentivize caring about all guests’ experiences.
For all of this to take place, hotel management must bring hospitality experts to design the proper training and procedures, and to train all employees. This requires money and intentional investment in the guest experience, which, in this case, is hospitality.
Let’s move on to the proactive communication related to any kind of amenities that today’s customer takes for granted (like in-room WiFi). In order for proactive communication to happen correctly, several procedures must be in place.
Chances are, the internet is provided by an external partner. So, your relationship with the outsourced company must be strong. This strong relationship means you know immediately when the internet is down. Further, you understand the plan to fix it, and how long it will take to fix.
The next thing you need to have is a serious SLA (service level agreement) in place. This ensures that what the internet provider says they will do actually happens. In other words, the provider incurs heavy fines if they fail to practice hospitality in their organization.
Include Marketing in the Process and Response
Assuming all of this is in place, you must map the process so that every time the internet is down, a specific person in marketing is informed. This enables you to send an email out to all the impacted guests. As we explained in our last article, you may not have the contact information for everyone, but you will cover your customers as best as you are able.
Now, another requirement is worth mentioning here. The marketing team itself needs to have gone through that hospitality training we spoke about earlier. Many organizations divide employees in two categories: “customer-facing” and “non customer-facing.” These organizations try to save money by training only the “customer-facing” employees in hospitality standards.
The problem is, in today’s day and age, almost every service requires the proactive engagement and diligence of the “back office.” Hospitality happens only when every person on the chain CARES. In this case, you need that marketing person to be proud of their responsibility. Then, that person needs to run all the necessary email lists to send the right message to the right people.
Connect Tone to Hospitality Experience
Keep in mind, this individual can ruin the guest experience by writing the email in the wrong tone of voice. So, what is the wrong tone?
The wrong tone is a tone that lacks empathy. It reads like a service announcement. Or it is a purely functional message. For example, the wrong tone in this scenario looks like this:
“Ms. Petrova, we write to inform you our internet is down.”
Do you see how the copy writer needs to be trained in hospitality?
This writer can destroy the ROI of your technology investment to connect with your external internet provider! Just imagine, after all the processes that are in place and negotiations for the SLAs, your guest gets this message?
The guest will still feel angry. They might even switch to another hotel! However, if your marketing team is trained in hospitality, the email will, first of all, go out to guests VERY quickly, in order to catch as many people as possible. And second, the email will read something like this:
“Dear Ms. Petrova,
Thank you for choosing us again for your visit to Las Vegas! We really appreciate the trust and loyalty you have in us! We value your experience with us and are writing to inform you that our internet will not be working this weekend.
We are currently changing providers and have encountered some technical difficulties.
To compensate you for the inconvenience, we will comp your resort tax for one night.
We are looking forward to seeing you next time, when we will have the internet back online.
Your Hospitality Team”
Now that is an expression of hospitality!
Let’s Talk About the Money
So, how do you actually take the charge off the bill without worrying your guest? On the surface, this is not complicated. You promised the guest you would do it. Now, you need to make the change in the billing system, right?
Now, here are just some examples of why the person who made the promise is NOT the person who needs to make the update in the billing system. First, changes on charges can ONLY happen at check out. Second, the person who made the promise does not have access to the billing system. In our hospitality-driven organization, the person who committed to the adjustment is in marketing. And third, the person needs the approval of a supervisor to make the change to the bill.
The list of complexities goes on and on and on. That is why we do journey maps. While I have mixed feelings about them, in a scenario like this, journey maps are a perfect tool to document who needs to do what to ensure hospitality is in action.
In some cases, you resolve this with a good CRM (customer management) system. It allows all departments to see the guest. In other cases, you implement a process that connects marketing with finance. Whatever the solution you choose, it comes down to intentional, deliberate work. And investment BEFORE a disruption occurs, so when there is a service failure, the hospitality experience engine can activate, and loyal customers will keep coming back for more.
Hospitality Experience and Technology
Since we touched on technology, I would be remiss if I did not mention Ivy, my hotel’s digital concierge. At best, Ivy was unfriendly. And at times, Ivy was clueless.
At the EXACT moment when I called the front desk to ask for Wifi assistance, Ivy texted me saying she can help me with my WiFi password. Clearly, she did not get the memo that there would be no internet all weekend.
At the very least, someone should have turned off that text message. At checkout, Ivy un-hospitably sent me a message with a link to check-out digitally, since “the lines can get long at check-out” (more on queues in our next article). She did not provide instructions for how to do that. And when I texted her about an error message, she did not respond.
So Ivy was, to say the least, useless. And frustrating. She actually added to my dissatisfaction. The experience would have been better (and more hospitable) without the digital concierge. Imagine that! This casino actually spent money to erode a service level. Why? Because they thought, since IT is not a customer-facing function, it does not need to understand (or be involved with) the hospitality side of things.
So, next time you wonder what hospitality is, remember this article. Motivate and empower all your employees to deliver empathy-driven, seamless experiences to your customers. Even if that means spending more dollars on training everyone (including yourself!) on the hospitality standards that your brand will drive and mapping out the right processes and technology to connect all parties involved in making the magic called hospitality happen!
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines. In the beginning I thought about them because someone asked whether it is possible to build a customer-centric culture in a company…
Employee Experience Strategy and Customer Experience Depend on Strategy
This week, Andy Newman wrote a great article in The New York Times about the life of a retail sales agent. He used the example of an Old Navy sales…
WeWork Does CX Right with a Wow Moment
Used at the right time and place along the customer’s journey, the Wow Moment is an excellent retention technique. When a brand creates personal, relevant experience at exactly the right time, it can build a lifelong, loyal customer relationship.
What is Telemedicine? Keeping Medicine at the Heart
Guest Post by Dr. Melynda Barnes for The Petrova Experience. In this post Dr. Barnes answers the question “what is telemedicine,” and reminds us to keep medicine at the heart…
Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time
Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.
Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce
How to balance the efficiency call center metric FCR (first call resolution) with wait and talk time? JetBlue promotes human interactions as a brand promise.
Employee Engagement and Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article about employee engagement, by Natlie DeVito of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company, new to the New York City…
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
Even the US Government is Jumping on the Customer Experience Train
As we get ready for 2021, we have been diving in to the top customer experience trends we see on the horizon. So far, we have looked at why customer…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Why Customer Retention is the True Measure of SaaS Success
Guest Post by Callie Reynolds for The Petrova Experience In SaaS (Software as a Service), like in most businesses, sales is king. Sales gets the glory, and while I’d like…
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
Freelance Customer Experience Lessons for Freelancers
For small businesses and freelancers alike, it’s important to recognize that your business is as strong as the relationships you build with your customers. That’s just one of the key…
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
What Can Casino Consulting Firms Learn from Airlines?
Today we’re talking about casino experience. Casinos and airlines are similar in their operational complexity and sense of wonder. They also are similar in the way they can implement technology…
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
Autonomous Customers, Traveler Privacy and More Questions for CX Professionals in a Changing World
“As we move toward a more automated culture, most travelers will adapt to a Jetsonian, automated lifestyle. Every industry we know will be disrupted. For those of us in aviation,…
What is Human-Centered Design and how to Leverage it in 2021?
At its core, design is about value creation. In the world of Customer Experience, value-driven design requires CX professionals to use empathy to imagine a future customer experience that is…
Travel Experience Stories: How Not to Leave Customers Stranded
Meet Diane, and get to know her travel experience story. Diane is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is…
Customer Experience Design – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience…
Is Covid19 What We Needed to Build Seamless End-to-End Travel Experience?
On January 10th, we published an article called The Future of Travel We Deserve. In it, we laid out the foundation necessary to implement innovation at scale. Four months later,…
How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston
On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover because it has…
The One CX Goal You Need to Set for 2019
For 2019, I urge you to make only one CX goal – bring about business success with your customer experience work. Don’t just do work in the general sense. Rather, set a CX goal that has a real impact on your customers and their experiences with your brand.
Customer Experience Audit: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase
The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships.
What is the survey question that will prioritize your #CX roadmap?
As customer experience professionals, we need to factor in this disconnect when we design surveys. And when we react to survey results. Customers have an image of who they want to be. However, their behaviors do not always reflect that image.
Customer Experience Design – How Do You Want Customers To Feel?
Last week, we talked about CX Design in terms of space and function. Today, we continue our CX design journey to talk about the design of emotions and feelings. The new…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. And today, we are excited to share it with you. Patient Experience in Healthcare vs Passenger Experience…
Patient Experience Trends in 2021 – Telehealth is Here to Stay
Today, we continue our series about 2021 Customer Experience trends and tactics. We take a closer look at patient experience and what telehealth means for the future. Both for patients…
From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience
Argyle Journal interviewed Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports. One such way, as Liliana explains, it to create magical customer experience…
Are You Ready to Go Exclusive with Jane, Your Digital Concierge?
In 2015 JetBlue introduced bag fees. Seven years after the competition. The media exploded. Many publications were negative. They blamed the airline for “selling out.” One headline read “A New…
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
2021 Customer Loyalty Strategy – Relationships over Transactions
According to the Salesforce Connected Customer Report, 90% of consumers expect companies to clearly demonstrate their values and 66% expect brands to demonstrate empathy. In other words, when thinking about…
Why Bt2B Businesses Must Think Like B2C in the Next Decade
B2B vs B2B thinking makes a real difference when it comes to customer experience. According to Gartner at least 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as…
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…
Customer Facing Experience: Communication and Hospitality
Today, we are talking about communication as part of the customer facing experience. This is one of the most misused and misinterpreted notions both in our professional lives and our…
A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
While there may not be a magic pill to guarantee the perfect customer experience, there is one thing that every organization needs to transform into a customer-centric business. And that…
CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in.
How to talk to your CFO about customer experience and revenue growth
Last month we introduced the topic of Customer Experience ROI and the complexity of building a good business case for it. The Customer Experience business case is strong, but not easy to prove. Today we will focus on two big wins of a successful customer experience investment – revenue and customer growth of your business.
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of an…
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
Customer Experience Technology View of your Call Center
By 2022 the global cloud based contact center market is growing from USD 6.8Bn in 2017 to 20.93Bn in 2022. This makes for CAGR of 25.2%. If you do not…