In today’s world of guest service, everyone and every place is trying to perfect the experience their guests will receive. Within the world of ‘Luxury Service’, a guest has different expectations and mindsets regarding the type of experience they will receive. Using emotional engagement and interactions, some of the world’s highest rated destinations create very memorable levels of service. There is no single path to making an exceptional experience for a guest, however, I believe that there are five steps we can all use to deeply impact people and ensure they walk away truly “wowed” by the service offered. I like to call it being a G.I.A.N.T. service provider; an easy acronym to remember that will turn a repetitive transaction into a memorable interaction.
1) Genuine interest in what a guest shares about themselves
When associates speak to a guest, their number one job is to learn about the guest. Using simple probing questions will help to better understand a guests’ needs, wants, expectations, or to get to know them better. Great associates do this organically the moment they begin to speak to a guest and it usually happens very seamlessly. However, when creating genuine interest, there is a second step that’s normally missed, however makes all the difference, during an interaction. While listening to your guest, you must absorb the information being shared and prove to the guest what you heard. For example, if during a conversation a guest mentions they enjoy a certain type of cuisine, before the conversation ends, you should share details about the local restaurants that offer that same cuisine. The associate heard and learned a guest preference, then proved they were listening to the guest by quickly offering information to help. While this may seem a bit challenging, the second step is what makes all the difference in order create a memorable encounter rather than basic service. To show a genuine sense of interest in your guest and their needs, you need to learn about your guest and prove what you have learned.
2) Impressions that should be made while interacting with a guest
It is likely you’ve all heard the old adage of, “you never have a second chance, to make a first impression.” Whether it’s preparing for the first day of class, work, or even a first date, this statement can apply to many situations throughout our lifetime. Well, this is the exact same expectation when a guest interacts with a service provider. Exceptional first impressions are crucial, if the guest experiences a disappointing first interaction the company will suffer the consequences. Guests focus on small details such as your body language, personal appearance, grooming/uniform, tone of voice, eye contact, facial expression, and how knowledgeable you are. Throughout this first interaction, the guests will decide how they feel towards you, if they trust your information, if they want to interact with you again, and most importantly, if they want to spend their time and money at your location. We have covered how important the first impression is, however, we cannot forget to leave a sensational lasting impression. This can be completed four simple steps. These steps consist of asking the guest if they require any additional assistance, thanking the guest, using their name, and providing a closing statement or a fond farewell. If you have followed these steps, you have ensured that the guest feels cared for, that you have completed all of the tasks they needed assistance on. The guests are walking away feeling a sense of closure, with no outstanding needs. Remember to make amazing first and last impressions for your guests each and every time because they are crucial for the success of an interaction.
3) Anticipate the needs of your guest
During an interaction, associates need to listen for cues or visually identify opportunities to provide service before the guest asks. This is a difficult requirement so you may be wondering, ‘”how do I begin to tackle this expectation?”. First, take a deep breath, all it takes is some creativity and a very simple concept of “thinking through the eyes of a guest.” In other words, as service providers, we sometimes forget what it’s like to be a guest. To help, let’s consider a few examples. When a guest asks you for dinner recommendations, one should naturally offer to book them a reservation or call for a taxi. Another scenario could include a business traveler who arrives late to the hotel, checks in, and shares how they have meetings early in the morning. An obvious solution could be offering to arrange wake-up calls as well as having coffee delivered to the room. Anticipating the guests needs could be shown using small gestures such as having an umbrella open and ready for a guest leaving the lobby on a rainy day. The key aspect in completing this step is to do the gestures before the guest asks, or it will no longer be as special. I recommend practicing by anticipating services as often as possible whether it’s with yourself, your peers, or your leaders; before you know it, you’ll be providing more and more memorable moments for your guests!
4) Name usage that personalizes the interactions
Following the most difficult step is the easiest expectation. What is the only way to personalize an experience? Using someone’s name while engaging with them during a service interaction. It does not matter what part of their name you use, as long as you say their name, you successfully accomplish personalizing the encounter. The most important aspect of personalization is do not ever use “guys” or pet names such as Sugar, Honey, Darlin’, Sweetie, or any other inappropriate name. Rather, especially in luxury service, use ma’am, sir, madame, and ladies & gentlemen, but use it sparingly. When in doubt, always fall back on using their actual name. Not all names are easy to pronounce but as long as you try, it will be very appreciated. It is okay to ask the guest how to pronounce it or try the name and confirm you were correct. In order to be a G.I.A.N.T. Luxury Service Provider always use their name.
5) Thoughtful gestures that truly make a guest feel valued
The final piece to my five-step process is one of the most fun aspects while working in luxury services. In the simplest of terms, this is what it means to truly go above & beyond. Making an emotional impact on your guests can be achieved by providing a thoughtful gesture. The guests will be left with a wow moment which is very rewarding for the associate. I’m sure you are thinking about your own examples or stories from providing thoughtful gestures, however, here are some examples to further explain this step. A thoughtful gesture could be sending flowers for a celebration, having a special glass of wine pre-set for dinner, a hand written note during turndown service, follow-up calls from a telephone request, escorting a guest to their destination rather than giving directions, a complimentary gift for a child, finding a lost item and mailing it back to the guest without letting them know, and the list go on. In order to keep the thoughtful gestures impactful, it is important to keep them mystique. When we call or speak to a guest about the gesture they will receive, the thoughtfulness is completely eliminated. To truly impact a guest experience, and create the memory, do everything possible to also make it a surprise.
Being a G.I.A.N.T. is not impossible but it most certainly takes practice and attention to detail. If more associates considered these five steps, there would be many more reasons for guests to write wonderful reviews on social media, TripAdvisor and share with their friends and family. I also believe that these five concepts make the task of luxury service more exciting. Most jobs in hospitality can quickly become repetitive and boring as it pertains to the daily tasks in the job descriptions, but if one applies these considerations to each and every guest, it makes each interaction more unique and more rewarding. Do you have what it takes, and are you ready to become a GIANT in your location? Let’s see how well you can master Genuine interest, Impressions, Anticipating a guest, Name usage, and Thoughtful gestures, good luck!