Hospitality 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.
Hospitality 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 Hospitality 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
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 engine can activate, and loyal customers will keep coming back for more.
Hospitality 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!
Healthcare Culture Change Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about healthcare customer experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and…
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,…
Leadership During the Pandemic: Guest Post by Rachel Dreyfus
This is a guest post by Rachel Dreyfus, President, Dreyfus Advisors, who researched leadership during the pandemic. How has Covid19 influenced leadership over the past three months? Research results show…
Employee Experience 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…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience on Healthcare Podcast
Today we share with you a recent healthcare podcast we recorded with Stacey Richter. I was very excited to have the opportunity to discuss with her the similarities between the…
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…
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.
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…
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.
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport conference a few months ago. Although many colleagues chose not…
Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI on your Customer Experience initiatives quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
Create Your Tribe: How Great CX Makes a Lifestyle Brand
Newcomers to the market realize that their business is only as strong as the growth of their customer base. With that in mind, senior leaders work hard to shorten the distance between them and the customer.
How to Be an Entrepreneur: 5 Things I Learned in 5 Months as an Entrepreneur
The life of an entrepreneur is different every day, but the one thing that remains the same is that we are always learning. These are my lessons in how to…
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…
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.
CX Bold Moves: JetBlue Paperless And Deviceless Boarding
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the CX Bold Moves stories. This year JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who…
How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
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…
Customer Experience Audit: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. See all the audit stories. The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms…
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event or a conference to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year I attended…
Why You Need Culture Not Call Center Training for Customer-Centric CX
If the organization does not understand what customer experience is, you will not get the funding or organizational support you need to build customer-centric experiences.
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…
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…
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.
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…
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.
Why Customers Are Not Responding to Your Customer Experience Survey
When you solicit customer feedback sometimes matters more than how you ask the questions. In the case of a survey about new biometrics boarding initiatives my team and I created for JetBlue, we had a list of feedback that was most important for us.
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines. In the beginning I was thinking about them, because I was asked if it is possible to build a customer-centric culture in…
Customer Experience Lessons for Freelancers: To Grow Your Client Base, Add Your Personal Touch
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. We can learn a lot about…
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. This week, billionaire Isaac Larian set up a GoFundMe…
How Not to Leave Customers Stranded on the Busiest Travel Day of the Year
Meet Diane. She is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is the one annual trip she has to take….
3 Ways to Get Started Creating Better Employee Experience
Guest Post by Gabe Smith, CCXP The relationship between employee experience and customer experience has long been discussed. Without engaged employees, we’re told, it’s difficult to create great experiences for…
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.
How @T4 makes real customer experience impact on travelers experience
Today we share our impressions from visiting our welcoming host Chad at JFK Terminal 4 in NYC. We also celebrate Chad as an effective Customer Experience professional/practitioner. His work is…
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,…
Our Holiday Wishes for Great CX
Every successful customer experience initiative starts with a skilled CX team. Brush up on your CX skills to strengthen the business case for CX; to develop relationships within your organization; and to deliver standout customer experiences in the new year.
Customer Experience Audit: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audit. See all CX audit stories. Domino’s Pizza made two CX bold moves . They changed a nearly half-century…
The Importance of Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article by Natlie DeVito of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company, new to the New York City market, that offers…
Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement
In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI…
Customer Experience Tips and Best Practices In 2017?
In Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on customer experience tips, lessons learned, and best practices for the new year on JetBlue, she explores the importance of “keeping the human…
Customer Experience View of your Call Center Technology
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…
Why you need a defined culture to do CX right?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
CX Design Makes Form and Function Beautiful – and Cosmopolitan Magazine Notices
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…