Hoteliers: prepare for the worst

By Natalie Wiseman

Managers can’t be everywhere at once and their commercial/operational focus can, at times, mean they lose sight of the customer view.  That is why quality assessment is such a necessary tool.   It can be used to obtain a snapshot of the genuine customer experience, which you just don’t get on a busy working day.

We provide hoteliers with quality assessment services, often by employing mystery guests.   The assessment they carry out usually considers both the guest experience and the commercial intentions in a semi-structured format.  Some Mystery Guest assessments have a very specific focus.  This may include anything from a one-off testing of bed quality, to a more regular end-to-end customer journey assessing dozens of intricate brand standards.  Other services such as mystery sales enquiries can be subscribed to on a monthly basis and allow for local and national benchmarking.

 Safety is becoming a key issue

Since world tensions have escalated in recent years, the fear of potential terrorism means that assessing safety and evacuation procedures is increasingly part of quality briefs.   If an emergency occurred, guests would be looking to frontline staff for guidance.  And everyone needs to be confident that in these situations staff know the chain of command, or hierarchy of escalation.

 Security is not just physical…

There was a fascinating panel session at last year’s Hotel Insights Forum covering all aspects of security, both in terms of physical security but also data security.

Marriott blocking wireless signals other than their own made headlines not so long ago , but hotels do need to be very aware that while guests demand ease and openness, their networks do still need to be watertight, and many of them aren’t.  The consequences can be huge.

 Liability can expand beyond a hotel’s immediate actions

At our Hotel Insights Forum, we heard from a barrister specialising in child abuse and he pointed out that, in law, if a hotel either reasonably suspects, or – crucially – should be expected to reasonably suspect that unpleasant things might be happening on its premises and does nothing, it could well be liable, in law, for failing to prevent them.

One might also suspect that principle to apply to wireless networks – if a hotel doesn’t take steps to stop people exchanging naughty content, or breaching copyright over its network – could it also become liable for that too?

Do assessments make a difference to the bottom line?

Yes they do.   This can be seen through revenue gain and revenue protection.  A mystery shop helps highlight service gaps, be that for missed opportunities of up-selling, or to see where hotels fall short of their service promise.   Identifying these gaps early, especially in the case of health & safety liability, can minimise potential loss through damages, reputation or generally dissatisfied customers – essentially, all equating to revenue.

For many hoteliers, online reviews have become an indicator of guest experience.  But, one area which this method often fails to cover in necessary detail is health and safety.  The average TripAdvisor report won’t mention whether there is an accessible fire evacuation plan or consider the impact of faulty equipment.   Health and safety is often assumed and taken for granted by guests so is not scrutinised on a visit.  Yet health and safety compliance can become a deal-breaker if something goes wrong.  And it might be the hotel that’s liable.

 

Find out more about our range of sector-focussed quality assessment by visiting BDRC’s Mystery Guest and VenueVerdict pages.

Learn more at the next Hotel Insights Forum on 15 September 2016 - get your tickets now.

Read our latest Holiday Trends blog for more on how safety concern is becoming a key issue for holiday bookers, and what leisure brands can do about it.

 

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