Moving from amenities to service

We all have been the beneficiaries of the so-called bed wars, where hotels—Westin was the first, but everyone soon piled on—got the idea that guests were there mainly to sleep, and would really appreciate somewhere comfy to lay our heads. Then bathrooms got spiffed up, and the bed wars turned into the amenity wars. But with all that focus on the "stuff," did we lose the customer service focus?

I was reading this article in Travel Weekly about just this idea, and it seems like I'm not the only one who's noticed that while the stuff got better, the service did not. I read all those stories about housekeepers in pain from having to change the sheets on the heavenly, yet heavier, beds, and pain can definitely make a person grumpy. But with some hotels now offering kiosk check-in, what's the excuse for front desk staff being more cold than cordial? Not at the Ritz-Carltons of the world, of course, but once you move down a rung or two on the luxury ladder, service has seemed to slide a bit. Fortunately, it sounds like some chains are noticing, and putting programs in place to improve. From the article:

    • Holiday Inns created People Notice, a hands-on training program to instill a service culture.

    • Country Inns & Suites rolled out Be Our Guest to ensure a “warm welcome and a good stay” and ran its brand-first TV advertising to herald the program.

    • Marriott introduced Spirit to Serve Our Guests, a five-part initiative to cover every part of the guest experience, from reservations through the stay to follow-up.

    • Westin is redesigning its service approach around the brand’s Personal Renewal repositioning.

With the high turnover rates in the hospitality business, though, the training will need to be regular and ongoing to have an impact. Here's hoping it works.

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