This morning I read an article that initially shocked me.
The article focused on price versus customer service.
Then after several minutes of absorbing the intent of the message, what became apparent was the underlying truth about the impact of the association of COVID with Customer Service with pricing.
The conclusion was that many hospitality businesses are relying on increased pricing levels to compensate for COVID losses AND at the expense of quality customer service.
If ever there was one element that the hospitality industry needed to prioritise, it must be Customer Services.
If we remind ourselves about the world of only two tears ago. Airports were suddenly no longer the bustling hubs of travelling humanity but more akin to wild west ghost towns.
Now travel is returning to normal. Much needed passengers to save the airlines. And, more importantly, fare-paying passengers to keep the cash flowing.
And they are travelling everywhere that has opened the doors to post COVID visitors.
In addition, all the travel related surveys show that the luxury market has seen a significant surge. And that’s where the main issue presents itself.
Supply chain issues (and that’s a whole other story) are impacting the whole industry. With many hotels and resorts solely reliant on inbound deliveries of food, beverages, furniture and other essentials, there remain many gaps in the services available to their guests.
Another industry survey suggested that hoteliers and resort owners expect these issues to continue for some time.
The hospitality sector has more pressing concerns than food and beverage and so on.
Yes, the sector needs travellers.
In addition, there are significant issues regarding staff—particularly the difficulties with temporary staff moving with seasons or travelling to the hotel or resort venue.
The staff availability has, in many cases, caused an increase in costs and overheads while many resorts remain operating with lower staff levels. And Customer Service can and does suffer as a result.
The health and safety concerns of daily operations also result in increased staff responsibilities at the cost of being readily available for Customer Service activities.
One survey stated that up to 90 per cent of hotels are operating with reduced staff capacity and the ability to fill vacant positions remains stagnant.
Significant issues in hospitality customer service are brewing, and they will only worsen.
And then to the inevitable outcome, service quality levels are declining when pricing rates are escalating.
I am the first to acknowledge that the ability to be profitable and recoup COVID losses is at the forefront of hospitality management business planning.
The myopic view of the potential impact on Customer Services has all the elements of manana.
Several locations compensate for the lower staffing levels with a reduction in room/guest capacity. The thinking is that 70 per cent of occupancy receiving top quality service at an increased rate is more appropriate than 100 per cent capacity with an inability to deliver 100 per cent quality service.
For many resorts and hotels, this may be more applicable to capping of restaurant/dining experiences than fewer rooms that ultimately could be filled—a fine line.
Of course, this is not always possible. But, if that is the case, the management business planning thinking must include the management of guest expectations.
I always try to place myself in the guest’s shoes or the receptionist or the business owner, and one thing is obvious. Many guests are no longer accepting the COVID excuse.
Lower customer service due to COVID impact is not a reason for a customer service failure.
Should the focus be on:
- Good quality service?
- Great reviews?
- Guest lifetime value?
- Increased staff training opportunities?
All hotels and resorts and anyone involved with the hospitality sector must understand the need to increase customer service.
That fine line between increased rates, lower staff, supply chain issues and quality customer service is one we all need to walk.
By John Heffernan, Red Live Media
Do you have any industry news that you’d like to share? Send us your press releases, news, and articles, and we will publish them here on the IHS website. Just complete the contact form and get in touch.