Every hotel brand has clear and detailed service standards that operators of its hotels are obliged to implement and maintain. Whether these standards pertain to the food served in the breakfast area or on-site restaurant, the way housekeepers make up the guest room and replenish bath amenities or how the front desk make sure the shuttle buses run on time to and from the airport, guests expect that these services will be in place and consistently available each time they check into that hotel. But what about those special requests that require an employee to go above and beyond?
Hotel managers train employees to meet guest expectations when it comes to the basics, and we’re pleased when they perform at that level. Yet guest service goes beyond hotels meeting these prescribed basic standards. Guests are people and, as such, they often have special needs and requirements that can’t be anticipated or even predicted.
Consequently, we’re even prouder when we see associates going out of their way—typically on their own initiative—to honor special requests. There’s nothing in the training manual that requires them to go “above and beyond.” We see such dedication every day and learn more about such exemplary behavior when guests post appreciative comments on TripAdvisor and Google, even remembering to mention the employees by name.
There’s the breakfast room attendant who happily will honor a frazzled parent’s request to heat up a crying baby’s bottle of formula. Or the employee who will hunt up the only kind of muffin a toddler with allergies can eat. There’s the bellman, when asked how to get to a local hospital by non-English-speaking guests visiting a dying relative, not only writes out the directions, but flags down a taxi and makes sure the driver knows the shortest way to go. The timing may not be opportune, but the associate takes the time to do it anyway.
Then there’s the guest relations manager or front desk agent who takes a panicked call from a guest who checked out earlier that day and has realized from the airport that they’ve inadvertently left a difficult-to-replace item behind. It can be a pair of eyeglasses, a prescription, an earring or a child’s beloved stuffed animal.
Sure enough, the associate returns to the guest room and locates the left-behind item. But then the employee goes the extra mile, has the item wrapped and shipped overnight to the guest’s home.
Extra towels? Wake-up calls? Those requests are easy. It’s the special ones that illustrate the true spirit of hospitality our industry is all about.