Ahh, the daily grind. Monday through Fridays, 9 - 5.
Didn’t think so, at least not for hospitality professionals.
The hospitality industry is a full time, 24/7-hour job. While you may be “off-the-clock” your customers are still at your property having experiences at every moment.
It’s a unique and challenging profession, filled with silver linings.
Working in the hospitality field gives daily, direct access to something that other fields could only dream of having - its customers. Having this contact at your fingertips is an advantage that should not go untapped. It is an asset that should be part of monthly, if not weekly procedures by the Director of Marketing.
Walking the floors, speaking directly with clients, inviting them to join you for coffee or tea - this face-to-face contact is priceless - and actually costs other industries thousands of dollars annually for customer feedback and research. Others typically have to wait months, or even years for this type of feedback - while we have it at the tips of our fingers.
And while we, as industry professionals may not be capable of listening to every suggestion, our time investment will establish brand loyalty as well as provide a face to the brand for clients. It helps avert crisis. How many times have you read a Trip Advisor review and thought ‘If we knew while they were here we could have fixed it’ - it could be the difference between a 2 and 5 star review. It also gives you the insight to improve the business. We each have access to industry studies and reports, but this firsthand data is actual feedback about your product from your target market. It’s extremely specific to your customer’s experience and should be taken into consideration when planning marketing initiatives and messaging.
Spending time away from your desk during office hours can seem tedious considering the other initiatives that you need to be focused on: monitoring SEM performance, preparing an ad, and planning the social media calendars, for example. And, it can seem that your attention is now spent on crisis aversion and client pleasing, but these quick fixes can have long term positive effects; increased client retention, identifying those customers that are advocates of your brand and a more thorough understanding of the efficacy of your brand promise.
This newfound initiative will have another side effect – more time in and with other departments, departments that probably could use your help. This increased face time will bring valuable, new and unknown discoveries. More often than not we find that the brand standards get diluted when put into practice, at times to the point that they are doing more harm than good. You may notice menus, notes and flyers that will make you wonder if you work at the same organization, but this is valuable and vital information for you to uncover. Take the time to not only correct the brand inconsistencies but also teach the employees not only what to do but WHY they should do it that way.
These insights also give you a front row seat to what the customer is experiencing - –it’s part of the marketing cycle and is just as crucial as the ad space you are investing in. Do not take this for granted.
Managing your time can become one of the most challenging aspects of your job, especially while integrating floor time. Below you’ll find some tips to help you prioritize your priorities:
- Schedule these weekly walk-throughs into your calendar. Treat them as a mandatory meeting. Invite a colleague if it will keep you motivated and on task.
- Identify repeat clients before they arrive. Make it a point to offer them some of your time during their stay. Send them a card upon arrival asking them for their time, meet with them, and send a thank you.
- Make sure your Managing Director is on-board with your investment in speaking with clients as well as the time you will be spending ensuring that brand standards are being met.
- Speak to HR about integrating brand training into the on-boarding and ongoing training of employees. Make all employees brand ambassadors. The more they know, the more productive these walk-throughs will be. Cross training departments on the importance of brand consistency and representation is crucial and more often than not it is non-existent. You will find that other departments are thirsty for this information.
- Work from home. Yes this may seem counterintuitive as to the recommendation above, but with all of this time on the floor, you may need to dedicate some hours to work in a place where you are not prone to interruptions. Since your employees and guests will be seeing more of you, they may want more of your time and you must be able to still focus on global strategies.
- Depend on your agency. While implementing this face-time with clients, you will have to rely on your Marketing Agency to keep you on task. They should maintain the position as your eyes and ears of the marketplace and industry trends. A really valuable agency will assist you in this initiative, coming in with fresh eyes and ears ensuring that the brand is executed throughout the property and customer experience. Let them generate ideas and synthesize the data you have given them to provide a recommended strategy.