Maintaining good relationships are the foundation of any successful business. In our industry this can be demonstrated by client relations, relations with guests, the relationship between team members and management, the relationship between management and ownership, or the relationship between the property and the brand. Specific to hotel operations, front desk interactions with guests and sales team relations with group business are some of the additional key relationships that will bring benefits to hotel operations and the bottom line.
One of the main clients of hotels are transient guests. It should come as no surprise that our front office teams are mainly responsible for maintaining the relationships with our guests because they have the most direct and generally the first interactions. Engagement during the check-in process rather than being robotic will go a long way to making a terrific first impression. Learning a bit about each guest with a few well-placed questions humanizes the business transaction that is occurring and helps guests feel more at ease while they are staying with you. In addition to making our guests feel valued, creating a good rapport with guests can be worthwhile if any unforeseen occurrence happens, e.g., having to move a guest into a different room if the air conditioning is not working optimally. If guests have the initial impression that you genuinely care about them and their well-being, then they are less likely to be angered by situations that are out of your control. They are also more likely to be impressed by the corrective measures you take, no matter how small they may seem to you. This creates guests who want to return or who are more likely to recommend your property to friends. And we know that this is the most effective type of marketing.
Sales team members generate the base business that allows our hotels to thrive. From corporate negotiated rates to business groups and catering events, they breathe additional life into our hotels. For our sales teams to be successful, they need to have amazing relationships with their clients. Sometimes that involves providing clients with the rate they need for a certain group block to ensure future business the rest of the year, but most often it is just being there for them when they need you and being attentive to any questions they may have along the way. Communication is the key to developing long lasting relationships. If there are instances where you cannot accommodate a certain client need, do your best to explain why and offer an alternative solution. “Yes, but” or “let me see what we can do” demonstrates that you care about the client’s needs whereas “no” is a big turnoff to any potential or returning clients. Maintaining relationships throughout the year, even when clients are not in-house, is also a key component to ensuring that your property will be top of mind when the client’s needs materialize.
Relationships require work from both sides to provide as much of a guarantee as possible that they are successful. Just because we are talking about business relationships, it is important to remember the human element. We are in the business of serving people so going through the motions or only checking off items on a checklist will not win the day. In a world where guests and clients have an increasing number of hotel options, maintaining personal relationships not only eases communication between parties, but it also ensures that everyone is satisfied moving forward for years to come.