By definition, anticipating guest needs and desires cannot, and will not, happen by accident. Without effectively anticipating guest needs, it’s impossible to meet guest expectations. Here are some easy ways to help your staff start anticipating guest needs today!
This Month’s Objective: Consider each step of the guest’s experience, and be one step ahead of them.
Ms. Gina leaves Philadelphia and arrives at your hotel in Denver. Gina is on a business trip; specifically, a sales call. She is staying for just this one night, and is flying back late tomorrow evening.
Basic Desk Agent Mentality:
“We have 64 check-ins tonight. This reservation is just one of them, and it’s only for one night.”
Hospitality Professional Trained to Anticipate Guest Needs:
“Gina is going to be tired after a long day of travel from the East Coast. She likely worked during the entire flight, and probably hasn’t had a decent meal all day. Gina is tired, and yet amped for her meeting tomorrow. She won’t have much of a chance to ‘experience our property,’ so it’s my job to be her experience.”
Which team member do you think will better anticipate Gina’s needs and wants from this hotel stay?
When Gina checks in, the “Basic Desk Experience Mentality” will give Gina her room key, direct her to the elevators, give her the Wi-Fi code, and tell her to “enjoy her stay”.
On the other hand, the Hospitality Professional who is trained in the Anticipate Guest Needs Mentality will react like this:
“Welcome Gina! We’ve been expecting you! I am so sorry your flight was delayed. Let’s get you settled into your room and make sure you have everything you need to be ready for your day tomorrow, like your room key/card, Wi-fi password, and a quick summary of our hotel’s dining options.”
A look at Gina’s social media reveals what needs should be anticipated. Gina posted and shared where she was going and why she was going, along with other details vital to creating a personalized experience. Whether or not the information gets used effectively depends on the expectations set for front line staff, and the training they were given. Anticipating a guest’s needs and wants isn’t hard, and becomes second nature after a little practice.
The very first step is looking at guests as the individuals they are. One of my biggest pet peeves is when guests are only referred to as numbers, i.e. “64 arrivals, 136 departures, 65 stayovers”. When guests are only referred to by numbers, they will never be treated as unique individuals.
The second step, then, is teaching your team members to interact with guests as individuals. Do this by asking them, “Who is checking in today?” This doesn’t mean they have to know every arriving guest by name, but can they name ten? Five? If not, why not?
True story: I was consulting at a resort that was in the midst of the “slow season.” How slow? It was dead. The resort only had four, arrivals. Four. So I asked the front desk agent who the arriving guests were. She responded, “Four”. I replied, “Yes, I get that, but who are they?” She couldn’t tell me. I don’t blame her, because no one ever asked her to look at who was checking in. All she was expected to do was “transact” the arrivals. Yes, she was friendly and polite, and she knew her property. Unfortunately, she didn’t know her guests.
The fact is, if we don’t anticipate guests on an individual, personal level, we can’t possibly anticipate their needs and wants. This story has a happy ending, though, and a profitable one. After this conversation, the agent looked at the names of the guests checking in, did a quick search, and discovered that one of the individuals was shopping resorts for 150 room nights for her group a few months later. When the guest arrived, the very same desk agent welcomed her by name (the desk agent recognized her from her public social media profiles). In the end, the resort booked the group. The contact specifically mentioned the “excellent customer service” she received at arrival, and the fact that the agent “anticipated” her and welcomed her by name.
Challenge: On each shift, in every department, challenge your associates to acquaint themselves with at least five of your guests before they arrive. This will help them give the guest personalized, individual attention. The answers to five easy questions will give you all the information you need. What is the guest’s name?
- What number stay is this for them? (1st stay, 10th, 100th, etc…)
- Where are they traveling from?
- Why are they here?
- What company are they with, and what is their job (visit their website or LinkedIn)?
Imagine the impact you can have on your guest’s experience by knowing the answers to these questions. Your team members can sincerely welcome your guests with, “We’ve been expecting you!” Now your associates can know in advance what each particular guest is likely to need and want.
This does not just apply to the Front Desk. The more each team member knows about your guest, the better prepared you and your team will be to interact with your guests on an individual and personalized basis. This degree of individualized care is common practice at five-star and five-diamond properties, and at smaller boutique properties, such as inns and bed & breakfasts. It can be done by everyone in the hospitality industry. After all, we’re all in the same business of making strangers feel like our friends. The more personalized and individualized care you give your guests, the better your guest satisfaction and loyalty ratings will be. You have the edge over your competition! Go after perfect 10 ratings from each and every one of your guests this month. Leap into the top of your competitive set with #1 Net Promoter scores!
How would your team members answer? Get your team’s wheels turning, and get to know your associates’ thinking by interviewing team members from each department on the subject of Anticipating Guest Needs. Ask them these three questions:
- What does “Anticipating Guest Needs” mean to you?
- What impact does this skill have on our guest’s experience and our Trip Advisor and Net Promoter ratings?
- Do you have any ‘war stories’ (positive or negative) that exemplify the importance of “Anticipating Guest Needs”?
Share them with Stark via our App!