As the summer season approaches, hotels around the world are preparing to welcome an influx of guests eager to relax and unwind. However, with increased demand comes the potential for service mistakes that can impact guest satisfaction. Recently, I have been conducting service training in hotels across the Caribbean and the United States. Based on many hotel visits and guest interactions, here are the top hotel service mistakes predicted for summer with valuable insights on how hoteliers can avoid them.
1. Inadequate Staff Training
One of the most common service mistakes hotels make is failing to invest in comprehensive staff training. During the summer months, hotels often hire temporary or seasonal staff to handle the increased workload. However, inadequate training can lead to miscommunication, inefficiency, and dissatisfaction among guests. Hoteliers should prioritize training programs that cover essential aspects such as guest interactions, problem-solving, and standard operating procedures.
Regular training refreshers and empowering staff to handle challenging situations will also contribute to a seamless guest experience.
A common metaphor we often use is to put yourself in the guest’s shoes. When onboarding seasonal staff, put yourself in the new hire’s shoes. Look at the journey of their onboarding from orientation to on-the-job training, ensuring they receive the proper steps of service for their position and property information. Oftentimes, we see the seasonal staff go straight from orientation to directly on the floor. Then the guest asks a simple question such as, “What time is breakfast?”, and is provided the wrong information because of inadequate training.
2. Poor Communication
Effective communication is crucial in the hospitality industry, yet it remains a common source of frustration for guests. Hotel service mistakes often stem from miscommunication between staff members or between staff and guests. Hoteliers should implement clear communication channels, encourage regular staff meetings, and provide employees with the necessary tools and resources to relay information accurately – especially during the busy summer months.
Conduct pre-shifts daily and for all shifts. Those 10-15 minutes at the start of a shift is an efficient way to communicate with team members the expectation for the day.
Utilizing technology solutions like guest messaging platforms can streamline communication, enabling efficient communication between departments and prompt personalized interactions with guests. Even taking photos can assist in effective communication between departments. Recently, I was at a property and the pool had to close unexpectedly due to code brown. The team took a photo of the pool closure sign and sent the photo in the hotel group chat to quickly inform staff to provide up-to-date information to the guests. Communicating through photos is also great because it can be understood across multiple languages.
3. Lack of Personalization
Guests today expect personalized experiences that cater to their unique preferences and needs. However, hotels often fall short in this aspect. Failing to offer personalized service can make guests feel like just another number, diminishing their overall satisfaction.
The first step to creating a personalized experience is using the guest’s name. During service evaluations, using the guest’s name is often the top standard missed. Practice with your team on using guest names that are in house to feel comfortable using a guest's name.
Personal experiences for guests also create loyal guests. Encourage your team to collect guest preferences. When I was younger working for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, I remember having my preference pad as part of my uniform to collect preferences from my interactions with guests. One time, we had a guest who enjoyed our herb vinaigrette dressing. When the guest was departing, we gifted her a small jar of the herb vinaigrette and included a handwritten recipe. She became a loyal guest just from a personalized note about salad dressing!!
4. Inattentiveness to Guest Feedback
Guest feedback is a valuable resource for hotels to identify areas of improvement. However, many hotels make the mistake of not paying enough attention to guest reviews and feedback. Hoteliers should actively monitor online reviews, respond promptly, and take constructive criticism into account.
Embracing feedback demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement, strengthens guest loyalty, and helps avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. This summer, we will see many travelers booking in the month for the month. Prior to booking, the guest will research, and not seeing hotel responses to the feedback can deter the guest from booking. How many times have we thought the same when researching hotels for ourselves?
Bottom Line: Summer of Opportunity
The summer season presents a great opportunity for hotels to provide exceptional service and create lasting impressions. By anticipating and avoiding common service mistakes, hoteliers can ensure that guests have a relaxing and unforgettable stay. Here’s to a fun summer of travel for us all!
Stephanie Leger is the Founder and Chief Excellence Officer of First Rate Hospitality, a hospitality training consultancy. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the hotel industry globally, including with Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Forbes Travel Guide, and AAA, and has trained more than 20,000 hospitality employees worldwide.