7 Ways to Delight Your Hotel’s Team Members

Vintage old hotel bell on the table

Happy employees mean happy customers.  It sounds too simplistic to be true, but there is hard scientific proof to back it up.  Happy employees do really make happy customers – and happy customers spend more money at your hotel!  In fact, several studies have uncovered that up to 80 percent of customer satisfaction is determined by individual customer-employee interactions.  That’s the sort of traction that revamping your rooms or adding free HBO to the roster just won’t get you.

So just how does all that goodwill translate into cold, hard cash?  Sears, the nationwide department store retailer, collected data from 800 of its stores coast to coast and when the analysts were through crunching the numbers, everyone was surprised to learn that a meager 5 percent increase in an employee’s overall satisfaction correlated to a 1.3 percent increase in customer satisfaction.  That may not sound like much, but according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, that translates into an undeniable 0.5 percent increase in revenue growth.  Pretty impressive, right?

So, now that you now that it’s in your best interest to ensure that your employees are happy, how do you go about doing that?  Below you’ll find seven unique alternatives to the standard “have fun at work” fare that we all know is no fun for anyone.

Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Right

A certain amount of frugality makes sense as a business owner.  However, when the penny pinching gets in the way of your staff’s ability to deliver top-tier customer service, it starts to become a problem.  Even if your customers don’t notice any change, the staff will.  Not having adequate equipment (vacuum cleaners, washing machines, front desk computers, etc.) means that they have to work harder to get the job done.  That translates into stress, and stress makes for unhappy employees.

You don’t have to go blow the budget on brand new items you don’t really need, but opening up a dialog and asking the staff what you can provide in order to make their lives easier will go miles toward earning you that goodwill that your business so desperately needs.

Give Them the Power to Make Your Guests Happy

The QGroup, a marketing analysis firm, collected survey data from staff at several hotels across the country.  One of the major stumbling blocks they discovered was that, while employees were often told to go out of their way to make the guests happy, many of the opportunities they had to do so fell flat because they felt as if what they needed to do in order to make their situation right was “above their pay grade.”

One respondent went so far as to say:

“I’m supposed to use my initiative to make our guests feel like they’re visiting a ‘home away from home’,” but when he “comped a dessert for one of our very frequent business travelers who seemed blue. . . I got chewed out. I was told that kind of thing wasn’t within my discretion. Well then, what is, is what I’d like to know?!”

When it comes down to it, you have to allow a certain amount of freedom.  If the action in question was indeed in the best interest of your guests, it was in the best interest of the company as a whole.  As long as it’s legal, ethical, and safe for everybody involved, let your employees be the superheroes you know they can be.

Listen to the Suggestion Box

Another disconnect uncovered during the staff survey occurred between staff and management—specifically, the suggestion box.  While employees are regularly encouraged to speak up, approach management, and propose suggestions on how best to serve guests, hotel employees almost universally feel that their suggestions are simply tossed in the trash (either metaphorically or literally).

“We keep being told that we must respond to guests’ needs. We’re always being asked for our opinions. Or being praised for filling out those little suggestion forms. But nothing ever comes of it. Just once, I wish someone would actually read those slips and follow-up on one of our ideas!”

Make sure you’re not only encouraging this type of feedback, but that you’re responding to it too (and, of course, letting your employees see that you’ve responded).  You don’t have to agree with or implement every suggestion, but you do have to acknowledge every one and – if you don’t seriously consider them – at least give reasons why they’re not feasible.

Offer Vacation Rates

Intercontinental Hotels Group allows its staff members to book hotels at any of their facilities worldwide at dramatically discounted rates.  This is a tremendous incentive for employees to be happy and earns a huge amount of goodwill toward the franchise.  This idea is scalable to fit any hotel, even if your chain is local or regional.

What do you do if you’re the owner of a single hotel?  Partner with other local businesses such as amusement parks, movie theaters, event venues, etc. and offer a few discounts or incentive packages that will keep your employees happy.

Offer Training Your Staff Will Actually Enjoy

Training is important – but not if your training sessions are so dry and boring that the content goes in one ear and out the other for your staff members.

Instead, make training fun!  For example, Malmaison, a boutique hotelier chain, offers its bar staff boots-on-the-ground learning opportunities at local distilleries.  This single activity functions not only as training, but as staff enrichment and team building as well.  But more than that, it’s fun – and fun activities lead to happy team members!

You don’t have to spend a lot on such events.  Just look for unique ways to create unique “training days” at businesses and activities that are local to you.

“Love Your Staff”

Those are the words of One Aldwych’s founder Gordon Campbell-Gray, a man who should know what he’s talking about.  The five-star hotel has become something of a British icon and it’s mostly because of the staff’s enthusiasm.  Campbell-Gray espouses open and frank communication between staff members, but also believes that by responding with kindness and “from the heart” management can not only endear themselves to the staff but keep them happy in their jobs as well.

Schedule Responsively

One of the top gripes of any employee – across any industry – is poor scheduling.  Your staff members have lives outside the business that you must accommodate in order to keep them happy.  Accurate and responsive scheduling allows you to take those outside factors into account, while keeping an adequate number of staff members on hand to ensure your guests have a wonderful stay.

One way to streamline your scheduling is to upgrade to hotel scheduling software. In particular, you’ll love its mobile component, which allows you to instantly communicate with your entire staff, update everyone to scheduling changes, and advertise open shift availabilities so that everyone is in the know.  What’s more, the various reporting options allow you to see your numbers at a glance and keep your finger on the heartbeat of your hotel.

Your Employees Are People Too

In essence, keeping your staff happy revolves around understanding that they are people too.  If you treat them as you would like to be treated yourself, you’ll likely increase employee satisfaction dramatically.

Additionally, by adding value to your staff members (either through extra training or chances to enrich themselves), you’re showing them that you genuinely care about their personal development and – at the same time – the added value they bring to your business.  Put yourself in their shoes every once in a while.  You’ll be amazed by the results!   

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