In the hospitality industry, online reviews are like a train wreck: You know you’re not supposed to look, but you just can’t help it. For anyone concerned with reputation management, it can be infuriating. What do you mean a guest had to wait 45 minutes for a cup of coffee? Or, the valet wrecked a guest’s car!
Social media has changed our industry. One tweet, photo or online review can have a lasting impact on your company and brand. You may feel helpless to negative reviews as they live on for eternity in cyberspace. But, with a strong training program, you mitigate those issues before guests even turn to their favorite travel review site.
It all starts before your employee even puts on his or her uniform—during the interview. In our industry, we literally receive thousands of applications a year. Selecting the right candidates from this large labor pool is essential to the success of your organization. At The Broadmoor, we like to say we hire for attitude and train for skill.
Tip #1—Hire candidates that fit best with your organizational culture.
Training is part reinforcing organizational culture and part molding behaviors to best fulfill your service mission. It helps to gain buy-in to shared values, develop skills that match expectations and build expertise for the employee to work within your structure. Exceptional service begins with exceptional people. The continual reinforcement of your organization’s culture and policies breeds success—and customer satisfaction.
Tip #2—Training doesn’t end after new employee orientation.
Done correctly, proper training builds confidence and instinct. For example, when posed with a question, the newbie on your staff might be inclined to respond, “I don’t know.” With proper training, the response turns into, “Let me find out for you.” With experience, confidence and adoption of your culture, the response can morph into, “I’ll take care of that for you right away.”
Encouraging employees to take ownership of a guest’s problem can help to ensure that the problem is resolved quickly and that the guest is satisfied. We always encourage our team members to take a problem to HEART:
Hear what guests have to say.
Empathize with them.
Apologize for the situation.
Respond to their needs.
Take ownership and follow up.
Proper training gives employees the confidence to find solutions and offer alternatives. It helps to eliminate negative responses and shift the focus on the guest, making them feel whole again and allowing them to enjoy the rest of their stay.
Tip #3—Empower your employees.
There is nothing worse than a guest who walks away from an issue that still feels unresolved. The last thing you want is for the guest to take to the message boards to express his or her frustration—potentially discouraging others from visiting your property because of a poor experience.
Proper and continual training helps ensure your employees do everything in their power to make sure that every guest walks away with nothing but glowing reviews.
Danielle West and Melanie Shanks are both training managers at The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado.