“I know less about women … than anyone in the world”. Five points for anyone who knows the sitcom character that said this famous line. No? I’ll give you a clue. He’s short, bald and lives with his parents. If you are a Seinfeld fan (one of my all time favourite TV shows, only recently ousted by Suits) you will know it’s a George Costanza classic. So why am I bringing this up? You see, from time to time, like most of us males, I can behave like a bit of an insensitive goose (pardon the Australian slang). When my partner tells me that she’s fine after I messed up, I take it at face value. “Are you sure?” I ask. “Of course I’m sure, it’s fine” she responds. So everything’s ok right? Wrong! Now I don’t really need to explain what happens next, anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows this story all too well. Which inevitably leads me back to George Costanza’s famous line.
How exactly does this relate to hospitality I can hear you asking. Well, during the quitter moments of self-reflection, I inevitably come back to the same questions. Number 1: “I’m not a mind-reader; how was I meant to know everything wasn’t fine?” And 2 “Why didn’t my partner just tell me she was annoyed?” And here in lies the problem. Most people by enlarge are non-confrontational. We don’t like having arguments with people close to us, let alone total strangers. Ever been to a restaurant and not been happy with the service or the meal? While there are a brave few who send back their cold pasta or speak to the manager about the waiter’s poor manners, most of us (myself included) just accept the cards we have been dealt, pay the bill and never return. Even worse, we will generally tell our family and friends about how poor our experience was. The great irony of all this is that most restaurants would prefer to know if you aren’t happy. It’s a vital part of improving and gives them the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one. An opportunity to show you that they are worth a second visit (hopefully to become a regular patron).
And the same can be said about hotels. A lot of people won’t complain about a room, the facilities or a dismissive staff member. They simply don’t feel comfortable telling someone who may be doing their best that their workplace may not be up to scratch. They simply finish their stay and don’t return. And when asked on checkout how everything was, the inevitable “it was fine” or “it was good thanks” is a common response. But so often this can be code for, “it did the job but we won’t be returning”. So they simply end their stay and don’t return. The dilemma is, if we can’t decode how our long-term partners are feeling half the time, what chance do front of house staff have with a total stranger? Honestly, I think I have a better chance of being mistaken for George Clooney!
So what’s the answer? Short of achieving perfection 100% of the time (something even Claudia Schiffer struggled with back in the day), hotels must provide a platform where guests not only feel comfortable being honest about their stay, but it’s implemented in a manner that gives operators the chance to rectify any problems before a guest leaves the property. This is where a guest outreach platform can be extremely effective. Imagine a situation where managers can reach out to their guests during a stay via an in-house chat platform. A platform that allows a guest to convey their true feelings, because it’s not a confrontational or awkward conversation. And imagine if that platform was automated, specifically timed to allow operators to transform a guest’s stay from ‘tolerable’ to ‘outstanding’. The benefits are huge.
But what if you could go one step further? What if a hotel operator could accurately identify the overall guest sentiment on their property at any particular point in time. To differentiate and analyse the overall guest mood in their property and understand if particular teams are outperforming others. To accurately measure the affects of any changes a hotel makes to their processes or guest experience. All in real time so a property can quickly pivot or change direction if something doesn’t have the desired outcome. The benefit to that operator could be invaluable as they will truly know how their property’s guest experience is tracking at any particular point in time and quickly adjust when necessary.
SABA Hospitality has given this idea a great deal of thought too. It’s why we have designed our SABAGuest suite with an in-built chat platform that can automate outreach to truly connect with guests in a manner that makes them feel comfortable about expressing their true feelings. And it’s why we have incorporated a real-time guest sentiment monitor, because ‘thinking’ your guest experience is great, and ‘knowing’ it’s great, are two totally different things. But more than that, with over 50 years combined experience in hotel operations, we know that hotel operators need this information before a guest leaves, so they can ‘wow’ each and every guest and create experiences that will keep them coming back time and time again.
Now could someone please build me a relationship mood-o-meter? Maybe then I graduate from being like George Costanza, to taking on more of a “Prince Charming” type persona!