You might be on a city bus, train or perhaps a plane going somewhere and you start a conversation with the person alongside you. You find out they plan a major meeting at least once a year that you would like to have at your hotel. You inform them this and you get the business. Will there be anyone out there reading this that thinks this is highly unethical? Besides me personally?
I think this is unethical because that will same person has been using your competition for many years now and you did not are aware of it. Long ago you could have had this event at the hotel, providing for your employees plus their families; providing for the hotel possession so they could have afforded to invest in required capital items; helping your brand grow stronger each booking at a time; making it easier for lenders to express yes to investments needed to maintain your hotel competitive and the list goes on to your vendor partners, community and so on.
It begs the question “how joyful or unhappy has the client been at your competition? ” Would that person have moved to your hotel much sooner if you would have bumped straight into them, sat next to them, or even better yet… you planned to meet all of them sooner? Sitting here right now you do not know who they are or who these people work for but you plan to find these kinds of opportunities each and every day. If you don’t do that at this point, you certainly should. There are many people who are relying on you to provide for them and the the fact is some of these employees counting on you don’t actually know who you are, or what you do or how much power you possess to effect their livelihoods, but man they require you none-the-less.
In one of the fifty tales I tell in my new book, “Ethical Theft”, I would go up to some meeting that would be breaking at my competitors and I would approach the person closest to me and ask them who the individual in charge is. He would point out the person to me and I would wait till that person would finish whatever they were doing before I would approach these my business card in my hand. I would say something like “this is not really the right time or place to go in to this, but I wanted you to realize that I would love to have this meeting at my hotel. Could I please make a contact you after this meeting is over immediately to talk about it? ” 85% of the time this person would either think or say I was crazy. I might say “I don’t know if I feel a little crazy doing things in this way, but I what I do know is the fact that I am more confident in my hotel to undertake a better job for you…. that’s why I do this. ”
If it is a sales meeting that is taking place I have often been brought into the meeting room right after everyone has returned from the break and sat down. The leader of the program would announce what I just did and would ask if any of them would be willing to do that…. sometimes a hearty applause would adhere to. I said 85% kept an open mind, the other 15% would believe that I was nothing short of a lake pig and would not want to have everything to do with me…. probably a bunch of accountants. If I could bat. 850 and impress 85% of the people I first meet then those are pretty good odds that I can experience.
If I can liberate business through my competition then that client was not as loyal as they needed to be and it was just a matter of your time before they sit on an aircraft with someone someday and decide to move their business elsewhere. Is the fact that stealing? Or is it just fast forwarding the process a bit? If you can take from your competition, then they deserve to shed it. If someone steals a person, then shame on you…. you ought to have it. Same goes for employees as well.
So when does loyalty begin? What happened to just satisfying people? I was the speaker at a conference several years ago where we asked the audience to open their wallets and count the number of “loyalty programs” they belonged to. The common was 8 programs per individual and in some cases they belonged to several contending programs at the same time. Satisfaction is not the particular goal, loyalty is and it cannot come in the form of just a marketing program. It has to come in the one on one dealings with each and every one of your employees. Each and every one of them from the person who answers the phone to the person who fixes the toilets. If they are that good then your guest as well as your customer will know that the people working that ship are geniuses. You might have figured out that flat screen Video’s and free internet are cool things to have, but the deciding differentiator in how you drive loyalty lies within your greatest asset…. your individuals. Many talk a good game here, but very few deliver like they ought to.
So , what are some of the things that that can be done to communicate and show that you desire commitment…. better yet, that you want to earn their loyalty? Well, it starts with this first sales call. That sales person needs to care more than their competition does. If they have to fake this, or invent it, or make-believe it…. then they are the wrong salesperson or they work for the wrong resort (maybe both). You can’t fake qualified and you can’t fake wanting to gain your customers loyalty. As a leader, find talent anywhere and everywhere you go so when you spot it… steal those people. Have a value proposition ready to go for your potential superstar employee.
Chances are you can’t steal them on the spot, so set up a meeting over coffee and talk about what is important to them before you ever let them know what is important to you. Tap into their wants and needs just like you do your clients. Treat your employees like volunteers that could be gone tomorrow if you don’t provide them with what they need to be successful (guidelines, expectations, training, resources, score boarding and much more care than they have ever gotten from any employer). Now you start with people that truly care and wish to succeed…. things that are hard to not possible to teach.
You educate your staff on how you compare to the competition. A few have better amenities, some possess better locations…. but none…. absolutely none of them will have a greater desire to create that guest happy and devoted. Nobody will be able to take that a person or copy it. It is something you are constantly defining and improving.
All of your employees will know that the consumer is not a dollar sign or even an American Express card. They are true people that want to be recognized and experienced connected just like all of us do. The truth is them as real people with real needs and real challenges that you could help them with. Here is an example of what I is thinking here: you have a “policy” (doesn’t that word give you chills? ) that your clients sign a to use your sleeping rooms and meeting space. Several days before their own planned event the meeting advisor has something happen to their chairman and featured speaker for the day found to cancel.
By the letter from the agreement they owe you for your applicable charges. Instead, you not just void those charges or maybe give them a total credit for the same function in the future, but you call on that chairman in the hospital with a huge card agreed upon by every employee in your hotel.
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You offer any help that you could to the chairman’s family and fellow employees. You mean it and it is actual. On a happier note, you make use of your client’s hobbies and interests and give all of them a gift. It could be a book, an article or connecting them with someone of similar interest. Real people serving real people. Ritz Carlton wants women and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. Throughout us just being real people serving real people works.
Net net, when you and I are previous and grey and we are seated on our front porches telling our grandkids some of the cool things we saw and did, I promise you it won’t be about the financial records. It will be the about the human attention stuff. The things you did and they did and the things you accomplished together with your staff. Measure the worth of your customers or potential clients not just by the small meeting they can give you today. Calculate them over the course of the next ten years or even more of small meetings. Measure how much they will say about you and your operation and how loyal they are because you communicated care and then delivered it every single employee experience at a time. With this kind of culture you will kick the snot out of your competition who wants to focus on lcd TV’s and free internet service. You will end up well on your way to fostering loyal customers.