Falak Hyat (October 1, 2013)
Customers all over the world have started to connect and share information about services through one platform, which is by giving reviews on the social media. This has brought a wind of change to the way consumers now shop and perceive the quality of a product, by going online and reading what others have to say about it! The social media with many advantages also comes with the cost to the businesses, the transparency of their offerings that consumers provide by leaving comments and feedback, on every little detail of the product and service. These reviews that are available through different websites and forums become a tool for customers to give their opinions about any service or product, further empowering other consumers in making right decisions during purchasing their products/services.
The hotel industry has been corned a lot through these reviews as well since online websites, like the Trip Advisor, get into all the details of the service, allowing customers to comment, post pictures as well as rate the service of the hotel, providing feedback for other customers who are looking to avail the services.
Let’s have a look at the factors given the most importance by customers regarding their service experience in the hotel industry, by deconstructing the Trip advisor rating scale.
Many online visitors might doubt the authenticity of online reviews and their usefulness, but if online reviews were false and fabricated then they would soon become useless and redundant. Customers would stop trusting the opinions of other reviewers and think of them as unreliable and of little value. However, our research and analysis has shown us that online reviews, especially the hospitality industry are accurate to a great extent and provide authentic feedback.
When authenticity questions about trip advisor started to rise, trip advisor was compared with Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI), which is a well-known hotel customer satisfaction panel. Customer evaluation for 67 hotels was directly compared using data from MMHI and Trip advisor for 12 months. The finding proved that these sources provided consistent results and that the reviews were considered reliable.
Trip Advisor joined with Market Metrix a few years back in ordered to create a measuring scoreboard, whose results would be used to benefit managers and the hotels. These scores allow the management to analyze the scores given by reviewers, based on the key metric, Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). The CSI score rates each trip advisor review between 0-100 based on 7 questions from the trip advisor survey. This gives the management a clear picture on what feedback their hotels are being given and can act upon instantly on extreme results.
Customers give high weightage to the quality of service they get and are often very critical about it, commenting on every detail and angle of the service. The service creates the base of a good travel trip, and is a major deciding factor of a satisfactory or unsatisfactory service.
We have analyzed some of the factors that are the most important to customers and make them reach a conclusion about the service.
Check in Time
Customers who are staying at hotels and inns when they are traveling consider check in time as a very important time. Managers should learn from this and try and make sure check in is smooth and quick, customers should be served a drink or appetizer in the lounge while they wait for their room keys.
Reviewers often comment on how quick or slow the checking in time took and whether the staff was attentive or made them wait forever! Management must understand that the first impression might not be the last, but truly lingers on.
A satisfied consumer, who rated his experience with a five star, commented “We arrived at approximate 9am on the Saturday morning and were checked in swiftly and shown up to our apartment where a bottle of champagne was waiting on ice with some chocolates and a fresh fruit platter!!”
An angry and disappointed customer on the other hand commented about checkin at another hotel saying “I knew I would be arriving early so I tried to make arrangements. No reply. Showed up and was told I would wait in the lobby for 4 hours as I watched guest after guest arrive, check in and go to their room. I questioned after waiting 2 hours and I was told I would be charged 100 US if I wanted to check in early. My luggage never made it to my room, only after on hour and two phone calls did it arrive. 200 characters is not enough space to write all the ways this hotel is failing miserably as a business. How they have such high reviews is beyond me. Feeling lucky???? Then roll the dice on this dog of a hotel”.
When customers are traveling to a new city or are on a visit trip, they want to organize their trip in a way that they can see the most in the time they have and want to indulge in various experiences. The hotel management must help the customers in guiding them to different celebrated points in the city and inform them about things to do and how to get there etc.
A customer commented saying: “I organized private cars to take me around and the hotel was good at organizing this for me”.
The staff should be well informed about the list of things to do in the city, provide directions to places as well as recommend restaurants and places for different activities.
Customers have also commented on management calling restaurants and other places to get reservations for them in trying to make sure they have a great stay and make the most of their visit.
When talking about the hotel industry and satisfaction of customers, the factor of meals and food choices cannot be neglected at all. It is one of the factors that management must have great perfection in, with attention to details as well as providing a great diversity of options for the customers to choose from. Most famous hotels have restaurants and cafes within them, catering to different tastes, like Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai, sushi etc., to cater to different interests and palates.
Customers comment the most on the breakfast offered by the hotel, whether it’s a room service or usually a buffet, since they mostly spend the rest of the day exploring the city and eating out.
A customer commented on the breakfast saying “The Grosvenor really is amazing the staff is just fabulous and the breakfasts delicious I’ve been to Dubai a few times but this hotel is my fave!”
Another customer raved about his stay in one of Thailand’s hotels saying “Breakfast was a phenomenal affair with a never ending supply of fresh exotic fruit and freshly mixed juices. Besides the standard cereals, yoghurt and eggs cooked to order, there were crusty artisan breads and croissants baked fresh each morning. And the croissants, Oh the croissants! Custard, chocolate, fruity and plain ones and they were simply put, the best I have ever tasted in my entire life.”
This clearly helps us understand that the modern consumer, who has travelled around the world, understands that authenticity of things as well as focuses on all kinds of details. Such reviews should be used to train the kitchen staff in preparing meals that hit the right spot and make the customer feel relaxed and easy while they indulge in a food experience.
Restaurants that are especially located in luxury or top class hotels are also used as a measure to rate the hotel and its services. People pay great attention to the quality of food offered and try to gain the maximum value from the price they have paid.
An excited customer at the Armani/Amal in Dubai commented: “This is truly a unique fine dining experience. Located at the Burj, the setting is definitely unbeatable with great views of the fountain shows. But the star of the show is definitely the food. We had opted for the Amal tasting menu, which includes about 90% of the menu in small tasting portions. This is a great way to sample their entire menu from their appetizers and main course through to their desserts. The food is nothing short of spectacular with fantastic flavors. Special mention goes to their service staff especially Arun for his passionate, enthusiastic and attentive service. This is definitely a highly recommended Must visit restaurant.”
Guests pay great attention to flavors of the food, the authenticity of the cuisine as well as the way it was served to them, which of course then pivots on the service by the staff.
Restaurants also sometimes play music in the background, which is usually relaxing and creates a serene environment for the guests. However playing live music can get very tricky, because people have varying tastes and may not like what’s playing. Management should do its research on the kind of customers they usually have and their try to gauge their tastes in music.
A disgruntled customer complained about the liveplaying music:“lovely bar n great ambience.. But it’s just so quiet and dead that i think it was only for ppl about 40+ who would want a quiet and nice place to have a drink. The food portions were small too and quiet average in taste. The live singing was quiet disappointing.if you are young or feel young and wish to go to a lively bar.. try 360 or Neos.. But no bahri sorry, don’t mean to be harsh, but just not a place to have on the top of your places to visit in dubai.. Dubai is full of Hot spots and Bahriwasnt hot .cheers!”
This proves two things, one that factors which may seem small, like live music playing in a restaurant might not affect customer satisfaction, but it does, and second this review lead other customers to make their decisions, and like the above review has given recommendations for other places, the business automatically loses its guest to another business.
Factors like these really make it difficult for businesses to excel in today’s time and age, where the customers is the real marketer for the business, and future customers rely more on reviews and social media interactions then what the businesses has to say about itself.
We recommend that guests are treated with a certain degree of personalization by the staff, this could include referring to them by their name, or knowing what they like or dislike, food choices, pillow menu and other small factors that can make a big impact on the level of satisfaction of the consumer. A lot of luxury hotels label the bath robes with the guests name or bring them their favorite drinks or wine.
One of the customers praised their hotel for giving special attention by the staff, towards his son who had special needs and needed extra assistance. Efforts like these change your customers, from one time visitors to intensely loyal.
A pleased customer commented saying “lately I took ill shortly after my arrival and the duty nurse was really helpful. Furthermore I received personal well wishes from the manager which was most considerate, I can highly recommend this excellent hotel “.
Activities and Recreation
Activities for kids and teens should also be planned out, such as computers, movie-time media, play room, crafts. Activities for older children or teens can be billiards, foosball, computers, movies, card games etc. that can be them occupied.
Outdoor activities such as biking can be provided by giving guests options to rent bikes for a small amount of money. People also like going for swimming and surfing on the beach so renting material like surfing boards and jackets should also be available.
Travelers love to go to spas in hotels when they are traveling, so they can unwind the tiredness of the journey and relax. Spas offer a great get away from the world and just heighten the feel of luxury and royalty. Spas must be very clean and tidy, with soft music playing in the background. The customer should be like a royalty who gets to let go of all their stresses and just enjoy the pampering.
Salons are also very necessary to have in hotels, which help customers get their beauty treatments done, like haircuts or hair styles etc. or even a make-up look for an event they might have to go to.
We can’t stress enough on the need of a well-trained and efficient staff in the service of a hotel. All reviews ever written about hotels and their service never go without giving feedback on the staff of the hotel. It’s the make or break factor for providing satisfaction to the customers and making them decide whether the service was good or bad.
A very pleased customer gave her review on her stay at the Raffles in Dubai and was entirely based on the service provided by the staff.
“I was meeting my husband over the weekend so we just stayed one night in a club room. the staff checked us in, and were very friendly , Natalia was very helpful in showing us our room and introducing us to Sharma, The bonus things you get with the club room are great, we were very happy to get complimentary pressing for my husband shirts as he had meetings the next day. we tried the evening canapes but missed the tea time. was impressed by the make-up service although there was no time to try it out . In addition to the nice layout of the rooms and the unique decor, We felt everyone was there to help and they were very friendly and welcoming,can’t remember all the names but moses, keen, ronaldo, sharma and all the other staff thanks for the great experience. Def would recommend to other people and would love to go back”.
This review shows how a welcoming and accommodating staff makes it easier for a guest to be impressed by the service of the staff and become frequent visitors to that hotel. The staff of a hotel first must go into rigorous trainings from workshops and training seminars to learn about the Do’s and don’ts of great service.
They should be given classes on how to smartly interact and handle disappointed customers who need more attention and help. The staff should be respectful as well as friendly towards the guests and trying to accommodate them with whatever they want or need.
The staff should be dressed up in proper uniform and should be looking neat and well-kept at all times since they interact with the customers the most. They should have pleasant and friendly expressions on their face so the guests feel welcomed and at comfortable at the hotel.
Staff that doesn’t pay attention or treat the customers demand with little interest can be responsible for the customer being extremely dissatisfied from the service over all. Since the staff is responsible in delivering most of the service, be it housekeeping, attending in the hotel, serving at the café and restaurants or simply being at the reception, can wipe away the luxury of the service with simply being unfriendly and elusive.
The one factor that no customer compromises on is cleanliness and hygiene of the place they are staying in, detailed notice is taken by customers about the cleanliness factor of the rooms, floors, bed sheets, bathrooms etc.
Attention is also placed on how clean the other areas of the hotel are, like the lobby, waiting lounges, cafes, restaurants, pools and all other areas where guests are allowed to go. The management of great hotels always stresses on the cleanliness of the hotel and trains it teams to maintain standards with high quality. Training and workshops are given to housekeeping staff on how to keep the rooms spic-and-span.
The bedrooms are the part of the hotel that the guest spends the most time in the hotel and is a pivotal point in deciding the level of service by the hotel. Management must train their staff to make sure that bedrooms are all set and ready before the guest check in.
The location of the hotel is one of the highest rated factors that help a traveler decide where he or she would like to stay. Customers look out for hotels that are located in a central place with easy directions to traveling spots and sites etc., or being close to a central train or bus station so they can easily commute to places and back.
The location should either be central, which is usually appreciated by business trips or people traveling to explore the city. These customers appreciate the location being central and living in busy places.
The second scenario is for travelers who want a getaway or a more resort experience at a beach or near a desert who then wish to be away from the city and its hustle. These travelers look for locations that are at a distance from the city, yet have strategic arrangements to get them to the city when they want to.
A satisfied customer commented on the location of Grosvenor hotel in Dubai saying “With close proximity JBR, Marina Walk, Metro station etc makes this property strategically located. Have stayed here twice and feel like staying yet again on my next trip to Dubai.”
Value is a factor that is preset in the travelers mind even before he or she avails the service. It’s the value the consumer attaches to the value he pays for obtaining the service. If the price is placed in a high bracket, then the perception of high quality service is automatically attached to the stay in the hotel. If the hotel ends up under delivering then that leads to an unsatisfied consumer who feels both the value and the service were of low quality.
However if the price bracket is low, the consumer doesn’t expect the service to be of low quality but tends to think they got a good deal, but still demand service to be the best of quality. In both situations the customer is demanding maximum satisfaction for the price they have paid. This brings a high challenge for the customer service team to ensure the consumer that the value of the service is on the same line as the price that the consumer has paid for it.
“We had dinner at Indego – the hotel’s Indian restaurant. The food was possibly the best Indian food we have ever eaten and though expensive was value for money”
There are many factors that lead to the making the customer feel the value was obtained. The moment a customer enters a hotel he or she starts comparing it with the value they paid in order to get the service. Every factor plays a great role in helping the management deliver the value across. For example if the lobby is well done, with great seating, beautiful paintings and grand architecture that almost adds to the value of the hotel, since it gives a luxurious feeling.
If the staff pays great attention and goes out of their way to please the customer they feel welcomed and start comparing the service with the value they paid for the service.
The goal with this is to pay great attention to detail and make sure that the needs and preferences of the customer are looked into and all desires are met making them feel every penny spent was worthwhile.
Our analysis helps us understand that the customers of the hospitality industry are very sensitive and tend to judge every minute detail of the service in reaching an opinion about the quality of the service. In a nutshell the trip advisor and other online forum reviews help us conclude that a customer is on the lookout for convenience and comfort. They want that when their traveling and have spent so much money, everything else should be looked after. This includes their check in, great rooms, with comfortable beds and luxurious meals.
Hotel management should ensure that the guest is well looked after, know their preferences, the duration of their stay and try to make it as pleasurable as they can. Knowing what the guests like and what they are looking for will only help the management deliver better service and raise the standards of providing better service.
A large amount of stress is placed on the efficiency and capability of the hotel staff that plays a major role in helping the business deliver their service to the customers and ensure they have a wonderful time at the hotel and wish to visit again.
A customer is traveling to relax and find a get away from the busy life which is always filled with challenges, so when they face trouble in the hotel or by their staff they get highly critical. Hence manager of hotels and other accommodations should learn from the above guidelines and try to implement them in their service plan so they are able to handle their customers better and deliver outstanding service, which will get them better reviews and hence more customers.
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