A Standard Operating Procedure assumes that there is one standard (right way) that will successfully apply to all types of situations. Theoretically, applying the standardized process to any guest situation that your team encounters will deliver the same expected and preferred result.
Sadly, that’s just not the case. There’s no standard that could possibly apply to every guest experience that you or your team will encounter.

Would you celebrate a guest experience survey that qualified your team or the experience a guest received as ‘standard?’ Of course not.  Do you equate a guest arrival experience to an ‘operating procedure?’ Of course not. How about service recovery – is that something that you can standardize? Nope.

So why do we have Standard Operating Procedures? Results. We all want the right result every time we interact with every guest. That’s the key to satisfaction. However, as we know, guest interactions are anything but standard. And, setting a standard could backfire. You might limit your team rather than elevate them.

For technical processes like accounting, cleaning a guestroom and repairing an electrical motor, Standard Operating Procedures come in real handy.  Debits, credits, bedsheets, motors and computer programs are all things that will accept an applied standard.  You can apply the same accounting standard to all sorts of expenses and have the same predictable and successful result. You would not and should not recognize all guest complaints as a complaint regardless of the complainer.

That’s the key: standardized processes can be applied to things, but standardized processes should not apply to people.

Guest Experiences are not a Business to Business sort of business. Guest Experiences are not a Business to Consumer business. Guest Experiences are a People to People endeavor. Your guests are people and so are your team members. People helping, engaging and guiding other people generate exceptional guest experiences; people applying a standardized process to other people do not.

Remarkable guest experiences, those experiences that transform guests into brand ambassadors who write five-star reviews on every possible outlet, are always one thing: memorable.

Most of your guests will expect to forget your hotel by breakfast. They will forget you even sooner if you provide them the underwhelming standardized service that they’ve grown accustomed to. There’s only one way to create an unexpected and refreshing memorable experience for your guests: loose those SOPs.

It’s likely that most of your team won’t be comfortable operating within loosely defined guiding principles and will ask lots of questions to determine their boundaries and yours. That’s OK. That just means that they’re growing.

Every member of your team, Housekeepers, Front Desk Agents, Porters, Marketing Content Managers, Accountants and General Managers must be working for the guest or someone who is. If any member of your team forgets that, then your guests will forget your hotel. Don’t be forgettable. Create an engaging environment for your team and memorable experiences for your guests by setting brand new standards that catapult your business into a new stratosphere.

If you’d like a hand with that, give us a ring or drop us a line.

Parts of this article were also published here.