You happen to be on a city bus, train or a plane going somewhere and you strike up a conversation with the person alongside you. You find out they program a major meeting at least once a year that you would like to have at your hotel. You let them know this and you get the business. Is there anyone out there reading this that believes this is highly unethical? Besides me personally?
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I think this is unethical because that will same person has been using your competition for many years now and you did not know it. Long ago you could have had this event at your hotel, providing for your employees and their families; providing for the hotel possession so they could have afforded to invest in required capital items; helping your brand name grow stronger each booking during a period; making it easier for lenders to express yes to investments needed to keep 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 individual have moved to your hotel a lot sooner if you would have bumped in to them, sat next to them, or better yet… you planned to meet them sooner? Sitting here right now you do not know who they are or who they will work for but you plan to find these types 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 truth is some of these employees counting on you don’t even know who you are, or what you do or how much power you possess to influence their livelihoods, but man they need you none-the-less.
In one of the fifty stories I tell in my new book, “Ethical Theft”, I would go up to a 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 individual to me and I would wait until that person would finish whatever these were doing before I would approach them with my business card in my hand. I would say something like “this is not really the right time or place to go straight into this, but I wanted you to realize that I would love to have this meeting at my hotel. Could I please make an ask you after this meeting is over immediately to talk about it? ” 85% of times this person would either believe or say I was crazy. I might say “I don’t know if I am a little crazy doing things this way, but I what I do know is that I am more confident in my hotel to do a better job for you…. that’s why I do it. ”
If it is a sales conference 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 do and would ask if any of them would be willing to do that…. sometimes a hearty applause would stick to. I said 85% kept a mind, the other 15% would think that I was nothing short of a river pig and would not want to have anything to do with me…. probably a bunch of accountants. If I could bat. 850 and impress 85% of the people We first meet then those are pretty good odds that I can live with.
If I can liberate business from my competition then that customer was not as loyal as they must be and it was just a matter of your time before they sit on an airplane with someone someday and choose to move their business elsewhere. Is the fact that stealing? Or is it just quick forwarding the process a bit? If you can rob from your competition, then they deserve to reduce it. If someone steals from you, then shame on you…. you ought to have it. Same goes for employees too.
So when does loyalty begin? So what happened to just satisfying people? I was the speaker at a conference several years ago exactly where we asked the audience to open their wallets and count the number of “loyalty programs” they belonged to. The standard was 8 programs per individual and in some cases they belonged to several contending programs at the same time. Satisfaction is not the goal, loyalty is and it can’t come in the form of just a marketing program. It has to come in the one on one negotiations with each and every one of your employees. Every single one of them from the person who answers the telephone 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 TV’s and free internet are great 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 devotion…. better yet, that you want to earn their particular loyalty? Well, it starts with that first sales call. That sales rep needs to care more than their competition does. If they have to fake this, or invent it, or imagine it…. then they are the wrong salesman or they work for the wrong resort (maybe both). You can’t fake qualified and you can’t fake wanting to earn your customers loyalty. As a leader, see talent anywhere and everywhere you go so when you spot it… steal those individuals. Have a value proposition ready to go for that potential superstar employee.
Chances are you can not 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, anticipations, training, resources, score boarding and more care than they have ever got from any employer). Now you start with people that truly care and wish to succeed…. things that are hard to unattainable to teach.
You educate your staff on how you compare to the competition. A few have better amenities, some have better locations…. but none…. completely none of them will have a greater desire to create that guest happy and devoted. Nobody will be able to take that from you 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 an American Express card. They are actual people that want to be recognized and experienced connected just like all of us do. The thing is them as real people with real needs and real challenges that you can 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 an agreement to use your sleeping rooms and meeting space. Several days before their planned event the meeting planner has something happen to their chief and featured speaker for the day and they have to cancel.
By the letter of the agreement they owe you for the applicable charges. Instead, you not only void those charges or maybe provide them with a total credit for the same function later on, but you call on that chairman within the hospital with a huge card signed by every employee in your hotel. You offer any help that you could to the chairman’s family and fellow workers. You mean it and it is actual. On a happier note, you tap into your client’s hobbies and interests and give them a gift. It could be a book, an article or even connecting them with someone of comparable interest. Real people serving genuine people. Ritz Carlton wants women and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. For the rest of us just being real individuals serving real people works.
Net net, when you and I are old and grey and we are sitting down on our front porches telling our own grandkids some of the cool things we all saw and did, I promise you it won’t be about the financials. It will be the about the human attention stuff. The things you did and they also did and the things you accomplished together with your staff. Measure the worth of your clients 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 just 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 can be well on your way to fostering loyal clients.