You are in the business of hospitality, but are you really hospitable? Event planners can quickly lose sight of how to truly be hospitable, leaving themselves at a disadvantage. Tap into your potential by finding ways to be more hospitable to your customers and ultimately your attendees. Check out these 10 ways of showing true hospitality adapted from some key points that I learned while listening to Horst Schulze, Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group and founder of Ritz Carlton, gave some insights into hospitable while speaking at the Global Leadership Summit. Listening to Horst speak really helped me tap into different ways to be more hospitable.
Produce Better Than the Competition
What separates you from your competition? If you are a planner, what separates you from the next planner? If you are a third-party planning company, what are you doing different than the others? You have to be able to stand apart from your competition. When people think of you, they should be thinking of your brand, and feel so outlandishly special that they have to tell others about you.
Know What People Want
Do you know what makes your customers happy? If so great. If not, you should find how what your customers want and then show them that you know it! To do this, observe the things your customers say, and what they do. Ask them what’s missing by doing a survey, a focus group, or just asking them over a coffee. Invite your customers to a social event where you can get their ear and hear more about what they prefer in a business such as yours. Always think about how would you feel if you were in their position, and treat them how you would want to be treated.
Do It For Less
The bottom line is – business is business. You need to make a profit. It can be easy to find out what people want, and find out how to produce it better than your competition, but that call comes with a price. The key is, getting it done for less. In order to do this, sometimes you have to think of the simple ways to accomplish your goal. Find ways to keep it simple. Having a complicated process, always tends to cost more. Find ways to cut down on labor and number of tasks to get things done, in order to keep costs down.
Know Your Customer
What your customer wants, and who they are can be two different things. Knowing your customer can be key to ensuring that you can be hospitable to their needs. If you know that your customer likes to small chat instead of getting to business right away, then make small chat. If you have a customer that prefers phone conversations over email, then call them first prior to sending an email. Find out many ways to get to know your customer personally, and find ways to show you understand their likes and dislikes.
Serve Them Timely
Make sure you get back to people when you say you will get back to them. If you are in hotel service, be great at whatever you have to deliver. Set the bar high with those that you serve so that they expect more from others (mainly your competition). If your competition promises bids back within 24 hours, you try to get them back within 18. Try to out beat competition and every aspect of the business so that you can serve your customer timely. They will then know that they can expect consistent and timely service from you and your organization.
Drive Customer Satisfaction
Find out what makes your customers tick. When you know what your customers want, and you are providing it, you need to make sure that you ensure that they are satisfied with what you have provided them with. Drive satisfaction by always asking continually doing what you need to do to make sure that they are satisfied. There are many unique ways to see if your customers are satisfied. For example, follow your top customers on social media so you are always in tune to their needs and what they are saying about your brand.
Make Them Feel Important
Sometimes it is about the little things that you do to make people feel important. It can be understanding their the trails of their personal lives helping them out with those areas of their lives. While in other ways, you could be helping connect them to pursue their purpose in the industry like finding a new job. Always find ways to help your customers with what their purpose is. By doing this you will make them feel important to you and you can help them deliver on their purpose. It’s like winning a bonus round.
Don’t Get to Tactical About Management
When thinking of ways to be more hospitable, try not to think to tactical about the management portion of the task you would like to pursue. Being hospitable can be very simple to executive, so should be simple to manage. When you get very tactical about managing your hospitality, at times you can begin to think more about the tasks, then about what makes the customer happy. This may mean that you eliminate all of the unimportant work. If an idea or a task creates a ton of work for everyone, evaluate if it is worth all of the energy spend. Then find ways to make it simpler and easier to manage. Still not efficient? Then dump the idea until a more efficient process can be created.
Involve the People Doing the Work
Have you ever heard of the slogan “Sell the dream, service the nightmare”? Although many people laugh at this, we often do experience this in the industry. Imagine an awesome vision, but in the process of selling this vision, the person who is going to execute on this vision is just left out of the loop. When this happens the person doing the work can feel disconnected from the vision, and ultimately doesn’t deliver on the vision in which was created in the beginning. When you want to create a wonderful hospitable experience for your customer, involve the people that are doing the work so that they can be connected to the plan. They can even speak to areas of the plan that might need amending and more efficient based off what they know about the business.
Inject Values In Your Hospitality
What you deliver for your customer has got to be valuable. After you have identified what makes your customer happy, implemented your plan, and find ways to be really efficient in that plan, then find ways to inject value into your plan. For example, the consistent service of the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain is very valuable. When you pay for a hotel room at the Ritz, you no longer are just paying for any hotel. It’s the Ritz. You know that there is a standard of service that you can be guaranteed by booking this hotel chain. (No, I wasn’t paid to say that). If you find ways to be consistent in your delivery and create value with your product, then you know you have done a good thing.
Showing true hospitality is what can separate good from great. I’m hopeful that these 10 tips will help you become more hospitable with your customers. Your customers aren’t the only ones who could use some hearty hospitality. Your internal partners could thrive off of a healthy dose of hospitality too. Let your staff know the good work they are doing to make things happen, so that they can be connected to their purpose within the project or organization. When they are aligned to a purpose every day, it helps radiate your brand in their hearts. They become a walking billboard for you! I would love to hear of the ways you are hospitable to your customers, and learn a bit more of what you are doing. Please post your experiences in the comments below, and get the conversation started.