Everyone Works for the Guest or Someone Who Is and, Yes, That Means You

Before we get too deep into the intricacies of a hospitality venue’s culture, we should have a better look at our weighty statement. The first part is straightforward enough “Everyone works for the guest.” That means the Executive Housekeeper, the Porter, the Bell Staff, the Controller, the Director of Sales, the Marketing Coordinator and anyone who has anything to do with the hospitality venue is, regardless of their core competency, working for the guest.

Now onto “or someone who is.” We should make this exercise a bit more accessible by adding the language “working for the guest.” So, “Everyone works for the guest or someone who is working for the guest” rounds out our proposition. This concept, at face value, is simple and dynamic.

Let’s say that I’m working for the guest by carrying their luggage to their assigned room and upon arrival to said room they’re not all that impressed. After a few quizzical glances, they ask me if the hotel has any other rooms available.

I don’t know… But, I do know someone who does. I call down to the desk from the room phone and recruit my Front Desk Supervisor, Carrie. Carrie was writing the Front Desk team schedule for the Assistant General Manager to review, but she stopped immediately when she got my call. Why?

Because when Carrie learned that I was working for the guest, she began working for me. I’m the “someone who is” not the Assistant General Manager.

Now that we’ve defined our statement, we can take a look at how living this mantra will help you and your hotel not only identify, capture and retain guests, but will also make your business better by cultivating extraordinary guest experiences.

Culture Shock

I can appreciate that most folks in a leadership position who just muddled through the preceding are a bit uneasy with our proposition. You shouldn’t be.

You should recognize that making sure everyone on your team is working for the guest or someone who is will get you more guests, keep the ones you have happier and add to your bottom line.

This sounds easy but may be trickier than you think. Unfortunately, hospitality venues have done a great job segmenting, dividing and allocating people resources to purportedly increase efficiency, profitability, morale and maybe, as a side product of all that, even guest satisfaction. While humans like to have an identifiable role in any vocation, a role in the hospitality business isn’t just any role.

If you work in the wonderful world of hospitality, yes, you work for the guest or someone who is. Have a look around the web on some of the best job posting sites or at your own job description. Regardless of the role, General Managers, Assistant General Managers, Front Desk Supervisors, Directors of Sales, Executive Housekeepers, Social Media Managers, Banquet Coordinators and most other really important positions are not required to have any clue about the guest. Apparently, just the Bell Staff, Desk Staff and Valet should be working for the guest.

That’s scary and bad for business.

Further, if you develop a culture whereby your team is trained to know their role and that there’s a very clear back of the house and front of the house where never the twain shall meet, then you’ve set your guests and team up for disaster. Everyone who has a role at your property is part of the front of the house. The back of the house doesn’t exist.

Moreover, hierarchy doesn’t exist when it comes to meeting the needs of your guests. Just like when I called down and actually called up, I could’ve just called across. While it’s critical that top down and bottom up everyone is working for your guest, it’s absolutely vital that everyone laterally works for the guest, too. That means that any housekeeper can work for any housekeeper at any time without question and with good reason: the person they’re working for is working for the guest.

While you probably shouldn’t delete all the carefully crafted, Human Resource vetted job descriptions across your organization, you should consider adding the following to at least your interview process. Your entire team should be able to deliver each of the following on demand flawlessly regardless of the functional role they’ll fill.
This sounds silly but isn’t. When you’re working for the guest, you’ve got a palpable energy and unconscious disposition that screams empathy and understanding. When you’re working for you or a report or a computer, you don’t have any of those. You’re a closed book with a touch of annoyed sprinkled on top. Your guests will know the difference.
Guests get to know nothing – they’re guests. As your guests, you get to know everything they’re going to want to know. Again, your entire team should be booted up on the big questions that guests will need answers to. Most important, if a team member just doesn’t have the right information for the guest, then they’d better know how and where to get it for the guest – quickly and completely.
Most guests want to be really good guests. They want to do the right things at the right times for the right reasons. But most of all, they want to have the best experience you can provide. Unfortunately, they’re generally with you for a short stay and aren’t quite sure what they should or could be doing at all times. That’s why it’s critical for everyone on your team to be a guide that helps your guest get the best of what you’ve got. Your Housekeeping Team should know where your hotel markets just like your Marketing Team should know when turndown service starts.

Performance Metrics

Plenty of readers will contend that they’ve already got an engaged and guest centric team that delivers exceptional experiences. That may be true when you’re defining what an exceptional experience is, but you don’t get to do that anymore and, if you do, you won’t get to do that much longer. Your guests want more and they get to define what more is.

While there are a bunch of fancy technologies out there that can help you determine whether or not your team is doing a good job, we’ll use the classic triple bottom line approach to see if living our proposed battle cry will help you and your team do an even better job: team satisfaction and guest satisfaction will lead to enhanced financial performance.

Team Satisfaction

Your team is generally motivated by three things: a fear of losing what they’ve got, an affection for what they do and an obligation to stay. If everyone’s working for the guest and you’ve hired them because of their strong desire to work for the guest or someone who is, then chances are they’ll love what they do. Loving what they do means that they’ll feel obligated to stay to help everyone on the team and the guests they work for.

Additionally, because of their strong affection and obligation to both co-workers and guests, leaving your culture will be tough. If it’s tough to leave, they’ll stay and help reduce your turnover and improve efficiency.

Guest Satisfaction

If your entire team is dedicated to working for your guest, then your guest satisfaction will benefit immeasurably. As we’ve just outlined, your guests want more and they’re defining a new more. Your guest now wants to feel completely at home, connected and like they’ve just had an extraordinary experience. As you’ll recall, by working for the guest or someone who is, your team hits all of these marks nicely. Because your team exudes empathy and understanding, is booted up on the big questions that guests need to know the answers to and guides the guest to get the best of what you’ve got, then your guests will be much more than satisfied and it’ll be easy for you to attract a whole new round of guests to your unique venue.

Financial Performance

If you have a team that can’t contemplate doing anything but working for the guest or someone who is, you’ll have really happy guests that’ll keep coming back and new guests that’ll keep showing up. As we can all agree, a happy stable team and happy stable guest patterns will deliver the financial results we’ve always hoped for.

In summing things up, your venue could benefit impressively by simply adding a short phrase to your mission statement “everyone works for the guest or someone who is – that means you.”

If you disagree, at least you might think a bit harder when somebody asks you who you work for.

Also published here.