Patrice Cornee, Resident Manager at the ART Rotana Hotel, talks about consistency in service at every point of the customer journey, through empowered employees, providing elevated levels of personalized and attentive service to guests. He also mentions the importance of anticipating customer needs, having a ‘can do’ approach and focusing on exceeding guest expectations in order to offer a memorable customer experience.
Q: The ART Rotana was awarded ‘Bahrain’s leading Hotel’ by the World Travel Awards for 2015. What factors have contributed towards this achievement?
Patrice Cornee: Since the hotel’s opening in December 2014, ART Rotana set a goal of becoming a leading hotel within the region through a blend of modern designed rooms and surroundings, award winning restaurants, luxurious amenities, unique recreational facilities, state of the art conference rooms and a professional, efficient and genuine customer service approach. Consistency in delivering quality at all levels I believe, set us apart and contributed toward receiving this achievement. As a property, we shall continue to ensure that these elements remain our focus as we continue to grow.
Q: What is your philosophy of the ideal guest experience?
Patrice Cornee: For me, it starts the moment a guest makes a reservation. The way the booking is handled sets the tone for the whole stay; it is critical that this process is efficient, professional and welcoming. On arrival, a warm and sincere welcome with a swift and smooth check-in is essential. If a guest has made any special requests before arrival, all arrangements have to be met.
How we interact with guests during their stay is crucial. Anticipating their needs, exceeding their expectations, displaying a can do attitude for an unusual request, providing correct recommendations and assistance when required will make the guest feel special. Delivering what is promised and expected from a 5 star hotel and finally, an efficient check out with a genuine farewell.
Q: What brings the majority of visitors to ART Rotana and what would you describe as the highlights of the stay?
Patrice Cornee: ART Rotana has many unique selling points that are very attractive for our guests. We find that the mix of being a beachfront property with its own waterpark is important for families whilst the first class restaurants attract regular guests. The highlights of ART Rotana would certainly include the fact that all rooms have uninterrupted sea views, the restaurants and facilities are the finest on offer and the employees are friendly and welcoming. The property is also situated a short walk from a bustling shopping and entertainment development.
Q: In your opinion, what are some Customer Service essentials for building happy and loyal customer relationships in the hospitality sector?
Patrice Cornee: Customer service is key in this industry and one of the most important factors in this is understanding guest’s needs. Genuine and passionate employees doing their best to exceed guest expectations will make guests return and bring friends with them. You could be visiting for a family holiday, a quiet weekend getaway or a business trip and for each of these scenarios a different set of expectations shall arise which the employees are on hand to attend to.
Q: In what ways do you make the guest journey at the ART Rotana a memorable one and how do you keep visitors coming back to you?
Patrice Cornee: Whilst having the country’s leading facilities certainly plays a part in making a guest’s stay with us memorable, I believe that it’s down to our employee’s ability to accommodate our guests with genuine warmth and personalize each aspect of their stay. I believe that it’s these factors that play a large part in a guest’s decision to return to ART Rotana.
Q: What kind of online customer support does the ART Rotana maintain to interact with online visitors and address their queries and concerns?
Patrice Cornee: Rotana as a group have an extensive online support system for customers which cater to specific areas. We have Rotana.com which allows guests to make reservations and provides information about our property. Rotana also has an active social media network in Rotanatimes.com which provides visitors with details of all offers and events happening at the hotels and serves to keep people up to date and help them plan their stay. Rotanarewards.com is our dedicated loyalty and rewards program site and provides in depth details of the benefits in becoming a member. ART Rotana also has highly interactive social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram which contain regular updates on the hotel and are also a contact point for guests who prefer these more informal platforms to communicate.
Q: What are your customer complaint processes and how do you deal with dissatisfied and unhappy customers?
Patrice Cornee: The most important part of helping a guest with any form of feedback is to work to understand their viewpoint and then steer towards meeting or exceeding their expectations based on the situation or circumstance. The key is to be able to identify an unsatisfied guest whilst they are still at the hotel; it makes the recovery more personal and efficient to a point you can turn a guest with a complaint into an opportunity to engage on an emotional level and build a long term relationship. Follow up is also very important to ensure that the guest received the service they expected and left the hotel content and ready to book their next stay with ART Rotana.
Q: What is the best compliment that you’ve received from a customer till date at the ART Rotana?
Patrice Cornee: The best compliment received is a guest leaving the hotel with a smile on their face looking forward to another stay at ART Rotana. The cherry on the cake is when the guest tells you personally how happy they are to be back!
Q: Do you feel ‘the customer is always right’ and why?
Patrice Cornee: Our customer’s expectations and experience are core to our belief in providing world class service. Of course, it’s important to be realistic. The term ‘the customer is always right’ is rather general in its application as sometimes requests may not be within the realm of possibility. It comes down to agreeing on expectations and where realistic, surpassing expectations. This is what turns a customer into a brand ambassador for ART Rotana; they had expectations that we managed to surpass and this always results in their future recommendation.
Q: Please tell us about upcoming service, events or developments taking place at the ART Rotana for a better Customer Experience.
Patrice Cornee: We are currently looking into many avenues for improving our customer experience at ART Rotana. Our continued commitment to team training and recognition ensures that we have a workforce of empowered and content employees and this translates directly to the customer’s experience. We are looking into new and interesting ways to communicate with our customers at the hotel to make sure that they have all the information they need when they need it. There are also some major unique events planned for later this year and beyond so watch this space for updates!
About Patrice Cornee
Patrice Cornee is a French national with 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. He currently serves as Resident Manager at ART Rotana Hotel, Amwaj Islands in Bahrain and was part of the pre-opening team.
Before joining Rotana Group and their flagship property; ART Rotana in October 2014, Patrice held senior positions in luxurious 5 star properties in the UK, USA, Macau, South Korea, Hong Kong and UAE.