B2B: Ensuring High-Quality Service in the Hotel Business
- By Alexey Volov
- May. 13 2013 00:00
- Last edited 19:52
Hotel Best Western Premier MONA
In the hotel business it is a far more complicated task to secure consistent guestáservice — I call this software — than to build and equip a beautiful hotel building (hardware). There are three major reasons for poor or inconsistent service in hotels:
1. Lack of or inefficientástandard operating procedures (SOP)áwhen employees do not really understand how to provide great service to guests
2. Lack of skillful and motivatedástaff or lack of on-going serviceátrainings
3. Lack of control procedures
1. Reviewing SOP
To significantly improve quality work in the above areas, hotel management should concentrate its resources in the following vulnerableáareas where guest service really matters:
Guest arrival (Frontáoffice)
Guest room cleaning (Housekeeping)
Breakfast (Food & beverage)
Guests' communication in the hotel (all departments)
Let me explain using the examples of arrival and room cleaningáhow standard operating procedures can impact guest satisfaction when reviewed carefully.
Guest arrival / departure. A few questions to consider: Who meets your guest first? Reception? Or a security officer? Or a driver in the airport? How much time does the averageácheck-in procedure take? If it takes more than 2 minutes, you are in a red zone, since for the guest it is only about taking his room key. Do you have queues at the reception? Do you have a practice for managing them?áIs your reception efficiently staffed depending on the hotel occupancy? What mood are your guests in when they leave the hotel after paying their bills? Do you part on a positive note?
Review your SOP for the arrival / departure to cut the check-in procedure to a minimum: Make sure reservationsádata is correct, guest rooms are assigned in advanceáto today's arrival list, room keys are ready before arriving hours. During check-in,ámake sure you provide only the most important information to guests; long speeches is the last thing guests want to hear after a long trip. Finally,áreception staff should be ready toáspot a queue and immediatelyáask for help from the back office.
Guest room cleaning. At most hotels, room attendants follow a clear step-by-step process of makingárooms,ábut how can theáresults be so different then? It depends on the quality check by supervisors — those who follow maids and verify that rooms are in order. At most hotels, supervisors check 25-30 or moreárooms per shift,áwhich leaves them less than 5 minutes per room and almost guaranteed poor quality check by the end of the day. With that in mind, áI do not think we can seriously talk about high-quality room maintenance here.
To achieve a top quality result,áan average guest room, depending on the hotel category, should be checked on between 70áand 100 points within 8-10 room zones.áThis makes the time spent on each room for aásupervisor longer — at least 15-20 minutes. To make up for it, however, they may check only 2-3 rooms per room attendant per shiftáchosen on a random basis. In fact, this becomes a much deeper dive check that guarantees an excellent result. Supervisors should mark every point loss on a special sheet for each room attendant; this allows them to identify weak zones and assign respective trainings.
2. Working with the team
You can have the most efficient SOP, but if your team does not understand how to use them or if they do it inconsistently, there will be no result. Corporate service culture, when every employee understands and respects the role of the guest in the hotel, isácrucial,ábut staff trainings and motivationaláprograms are equally important. The secret is that both should be directly linked to the results of following theáSOPs. Let us take the example of a supervisor's check on the room attendant's job. The point-losses ináindividual check-lists by a room attendantácollected by the end of the month can be put together, and it becomes absolutelyáclear where exactly this particular room attendant requires training to improve her/his skills. There is a similar approach to motivation — every point can have a certain currency value. The loss of a point automaticallyámeans less incentive paid at the end of the month.
3. Stay tuned
People are people and even the most motivated and dedicated team may from time to time slip in quality standards. To avoid this, hotel management should have a monitoring system in place. I recommend multi-level control, when a supervisor checks 2árooms per attendantáper day, a housekeeping manager checks 2árooms that have already been checked by supervisorsáon a random basis daily, rooms division manager or even general manager check 2 rooms per week. It will be interesting to compare the results; if they vary considerably,ásomething is not working and needs to be addressed.
Finally a great way to control the serviceáquality is to analyze and react toáguests feedback left in the hotel's / company's own survey or web-based tools (Tripadvisor.com), but to avoid negative comments here the hoteláshould firstáthink on following and utilising the above described three steps.