By Marta O.
Have a walk from your office to the main lobby and look around where your Guest Relations Officer is.
Is she in the center of the lobby greeting guest? Is he next to the reception desk assisting a guest? Is she close to the guest elevator?
Is he in the back office preparing welcome cards, sinking in reviewing 257 guest profiles for next day arrival, arranging birthday cakes or doing the check in/out at the front desk?
Guest Relations is a specific department - it always has to support others but others doesn`t really support them (haven`t actually observed a front desk agent preparing vip memo till midnight or going with GRO thru 257 guest profiles, but I did see them doing all other jobs in front of the house).
This departemnt ideally should be building The Relations, sustaining The Relations and making The Relations unbreakable. It is in charge of making sure the guest becomes Loyal.
TRUST. "Trust is the glue of life" - says Stephen R. Covey (an American educator, businessman, keynote speaker and an author whose most popular book was "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" - which I strongly recommend). You can`t build trust from back office or while assisting all other departments.
It is The Guest Relations to focus more on delivering the Aaker`s emotional benefit of value proposition. It is not much the tangible aspect of hotel product/service it is the feelings generated thru the whole experince while interacting. Aaker ( Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, marketing expert) says "Emotional benefits add richness and depth to the experince of owning and using the brand". That`s why the GR officer should be centred in the lobby greeting Mr. Jones to inform him his favourite suite is ready with extra bottles of Perrier in his minibar, should visit a restaurant to engage for a second with Mr. Clarke to check how is the lunch recommendation, take an elevator to have a chat with Ms. Robins to find out if she needs her cammomile tea casue she had headache in the morning, go to bar to see what is mr. Smith having for cocktail since he mentioned the business is not good and last but not least if the turndown for Ms. Peters is on the left side of the bed etc. Later the update of preferences takes place. Kaplan and Norton say "Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation." Well - that`s what we do. It is the recognition we give to mr. Jones knowing what he likes, it is the sincere care we show Mr. Clarke while asking about the stake, it is the empathy I have for Ms. Robins, it is the ability to simphatize with mr. Smith and personalized service for Ms. Peters. This includes knowing the guest, habits, preferences and preparing them accordingly.
The key to happy, not frustrated and effective Guest Relations Team is to support them in collecting guest preferences. It is their main focus. They can`t work without them, they can`t exist. And this requires whole hotel`s engagement. Guest preference collection. Usually it looks like: restaurant has their own system, housekeeping has their own, concierge has their own - people change and it is not executed. Now it`s time to combine it all and share so that personalized service can happen. We, hoteliers - doesn`t matter which department we are in, we should all be Guest Relations Departmet ambassadors to build strong value proposition of our hotel. Enjoy bringing this topic back on the table Managers, Directors!