Hotel Guest Leaves An iPhone Behind? No Problem

This year, nearly 25 million travelers will lose a personal item while on the road; but, less than 5 percent of those items will be recovered and returned to their owners.

Turn The ‘Lost and Found’ Into A Driver of Enhanced Customer Service & Boosted Loyalty

The abyss that is the lost and found – things go in but they don’t come out. The idea conjures up images of the endless box of hats, gloves and clothing at the majority of hotels – and the few and far between “found it” utterances from guests and staff as they rummaged through the random items.

These days, the lost items have advanced to ones more precious – an iPhone, a wedding ring or other priceless jewelry, a wallet. What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas but that shouldn’t necessarily apply to hotel guests’ personal belongings. The hospitality industry, though, can be the bright spot and change the narrative we are all too accustomed to when it relates to lost and found.

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Competition between hotels (regardless of size and brand) remains extremely fierce so it’s crucial for owners and managers to look beyond the obvious and consider how they can distinguish themselves from the crowd – all with the goal of achieving the highest levels of guest satisfaction, encouraging repeat stays, and generating positive word of mouth. Elevating a hotel’s lost and found process – with streamlined efforts and a cloud-based technology solution – can be that oft-overlooked hospitality customer service component that makes a remarkable difference in bolstering customer appreciation. Make the abyss disappear. John Q. Hammons Hotel Group and Silver Legacy in Reno know it. So do hundreds of other hotels and resorts.

Simple, user-friendly technology platforms – where information is easily entered and organized efficiently – pervade the hospitality industry (think software for the front desk, food & beverage, and housekeeping departments) – so why not for lost and found?

Consider these statistics

In the U.S., more than 960 items per 100 guest rooms are lost every year.

This year, nearly 25 million travelers will lose a personal item while on the road; but, less than 5 percent of those items will be recovered and returned to their owners.

According to a 2013 survey by Wakefield Research, 2 in 3 travelers would consider switching hotel brands to a hotel that offers state-of-the-art lost and found services.

These numbers speak a powerful truth – ignoring lost and found is akin to ignoring potential revenue.

“We can focus on other matters now to improve the guest experience because lost and found is now properly under control and works seamlessly,” shared Jean-Pierre Patay, Hotel Director of the 1,700-room Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada.

Where to begin? Here are some tips for emptying the lost and found box and raising the bar for hotel customer service.

It All Starts With A Plan

Treat lost and found (and the resolution of this problem) with the same professionalism and attention to detail as other areas within a hotel. Launch a standardized, step-by-step lost and found process that a hotel team can easily follow. Provide guidelines for onsite implementation (including proper bagging and tagging of each lost item) as well as staff training to raise employee accountability. Essential to the process is the creation of a comprehensive, easily searchable database of lost items. With a properly implemented lost and found process, a hotel can expect to ship back over 66% of items reported lost by guests that have been found.

Raise Visibility On Your Site

Add a link on your website where guests can click to report a lost item (less than 1 percent of hotels currently do this – talk about standing out from the crowd!). This easy move boosts reporting accuracy, is 24/7, and frees up employees so they can focus on delivering a flawless customer experience. Be sure to encourage staff to advise guests that such a link on your website exists.

Make Shipping Home Seamless

Costs are involved with the “safe return home” – the happy reunion with an owner – so it’s crucial that the lost and found process ensures PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. Software platforms, such as the one developed by Chargerback, allow guests to securely input their credit card information and pay shipping and handling fees directly from their computer, smartphone or tablet. When it comes to lost and found, there’s a green aspect, too. Hotels have fewer items to dispose of when most of those personal belongings are rightfully returned home.

Communication Is Key

Foster communication with hotel customers. Be proactive by letting them know their lost items have indeed been found (via a technology solution that generates an e-mail to guests alerting them). Reinforce the idea that a guest’s personal belongings are as important as they are, even post-stay. Hotels can even have some thoughtful fun with lost items, making for a creative and potentially viral story like this post from Mashable.

There’s a “big picture” focus on enhancing the guest experience and cultivating that treasured loyalty but it’s the smaller elements, such as improving the lost and found process, all working together that truly can catapult a hotel to success. Leave the right lasting impression with your customers – bid goodbye to the abyss and hello to profitability.

This article is brought to you by Chargerback, and was produced in partnership with Hotel Management’s sales team.
Hotel Management’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.