Proactive Service Recovery: The Revenue Strategy You Can't Ignore

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December 6, 2019

Increase Rate, Bookings and Loyalty with Proactive Service Recovery

David Wang

Guest Report - cropped

If you’re a hotel owner or operator, what’s on your wish list for the new year? Increased ADR, occupancy and loyalty? Did you know you can accomplish all three by developing a proactive service recovery strategy and by improving the service you provide your guests?

That’s what we learned on a recent webinar with PhocusWire, Marriott Vacations and Meruelo Gaming  — “Guest Experience Insights for 2020, Uncovering the Link Between Consumer Behavior, Service Recovery and Business Impact.”

By engaging more guests while they’re on property and creating a proactive service recovery strategy, hotels and casinos can better identify, respond to and recover from service issues, driving real business results that impact the bottom line. The webinar was moderated by PhocusWire Editor-in-Chief Kevin May and included panelists Eric Stoessel, in-house hospitality expert for Zingle, Virginia Crowe, VP of Guest Experience at Meruelo Gaming, and Shaun McCaffrey, Program Manager, Resort Operations & Guest Technology at Marriott Vacations Worldwide. 

Guest Expectations and Experiences

Here are some of the highlights from the webinar, which included insights from Zingle’s recent Guest Service Report that was based on a consumer research study surveying more than 1,100 respondents:

“Going down that list, I see ways that great service will increase ADR, conversion and occupancy and loyalty,” Eric summarized.

He also pointed out the bad news. The survey showed that only 25% of guests report any issue that impacts their experience. That means hoteliers lose out on potentially reversing a poor experience for 75% of their guests. It’s a huge blind spot, but also an opportunity for hoteliers to engage more guests and improve their service. 

Is this stat surprising? Not really, said Shaun.

“People generally don’t like face-to-face confrontation when they are presenting their issues, so when they are onsite in the moment, you don’t hear about those issues,” said Shaun, from Marriott Vacations. “It’s very tricky to capture timely feedback and there is no easy or convenient way to report it to the property while you’re there or even after your stay, so 25% seems right on the money.”

The data confirms what Shaun pointed out. 41% of guests say they don’t report issues because there’s no easy or quick way to do so or they don’t know who to report it to. As Eric said, that is a clear call to action for hoteliers to make it easier and more clear for guests. 

Virginia echoed the same sentiments.

“Guests will vote with their feet, because they don’t want the confrontation or they just don’t want to take the time to do it,” said Virgina, who oversees the guest experience at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno and the Sahara Las Vegas on the Strip. “They would rather just leave and not say anything.

“The more proactive we can be and asking them ‘How’s your stay going,’ ‘Is there anything else I can do for you,’ or in the case of Zingle, using the mid-stay pulse check to rate your stay during the middle of the stay to see how things are going. You can use that as the opportunity to correct things because you have to ask or people are not going to bring up issues. We have to be more proactive and ask how things are going.”

When asked how about the importance of real-time feedback and how Marriott Vacations solicits guest feedback during the stay, Shaun said, “real-time feedback is huge. Not only are the details fresh in the mind of the guest, so you can really get an accurate depiction of the issue at hand, but it really allows us to tackle the problem in the moment. Not only does that drive up post survey scores, but it also drives customer loyalty too…We also started to use Zingle for mid-stay surveys and we’re finding a lot of new issues and finding new abilities and new ways to connect and solve these problems and are using that data to prevent problems from happening in the future.” 

When it comes to the value of providing good service, the survey showed that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better service experience. 

Eric asked the panel about how they measure guest service. 

“We have a post stay survey and we get data from the company that we use on our benchmarks and we set guest service goals for every department. So the other thing is we’re always looking at our social media channels, TripAdvisor is very important to our properties, Expedia reviews, Yelp and then any other channels such as the Zingle text messages and the mid-stay surveys on Zingle,” said Virginia.

Proactive Service Recovery

Here’s the big opportunity for hotels. Guests understand businesses and people who operate them are not always perfect, but it’s how they handle the situation that determines their overall satisfaction with the hotel. As the data shows, almost half (42%) of guests will consider staying at a hotel again if it was able to solve a problem immediately, and 34% of guests say that when customer service solves a problem for them, they feel more emotionally connected to the brand. 

“We’re very satisfied to see these numbers. I read one text message, where a person gave us a higher rating just because we solved the issue,” said Virginia. “That’s one of many examples that we’ve had with guests that have taken the time to reach back out to us just to let us know how amazing our people treated them even though they had an issue.”  

Shaun explained why texting can make it easier for guests: “With Zingle, it’s interesting because sometimes the guest doesn’t want a phone call… they don’t want to show up to the desk and they want to do the entire interaction through texting.”

The panelists shared examples of how proactive service recovery can work:

From Shaun: “We noticed through a series of Zingle mid-stay surveys over a couple of weeks at one of our pilot sites that this one specific building, we were getting a lot of feedback from our guests about the water either trickling out of the faucet or the water pressure going in and out. Through just a couple of weeks of surveys we were able to track down a problem we had been trying to figure out for months.” 

From Virginia, who recounted a story about what some guests thought were dirty linens: “We were just like this is so strange and we know our sheets are clean … So we started doing some quality checks and looking at the linens and went back and found that the flat press was actually dripping rust. And if you’re familiar with laundry equipment, you feed a wet flat sheet into this machine and it goes through and it dries it and presses it and folds it, so when it comes out you can’t see the rust stains. So that was an example of an issue where we saw a spike in comments and were able to address it relatively quickly.” 

These are just a few highlights from the webinar. If you are interested in learning more about proactive service recovery, VIEW THE ENTIRE WEBINAR PRESENTATION RECORDING. 

To learn more about the findings of our report, DOWNLOAD THE 2019 GUEST SERVICE REPORT. 

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