Gone are the days when customers were happy just receiving "please" and "thank you" or getting service with a smile. Although those go into the recipe for proper etiquette, this is no longer enough. Satisfied customers are looking for a memorable experience and dynamic service where it counts.
In 2017, just over 4,000 new hospitality establishments opened in Thailand. All of which were entering a highly competitive market. The number of Hospitality establishments in Thailand in 2018 was just over 140,000, all targeting 35 million tourists entering Thailand and a local population of 66 million.
The hospitality experience is one thing you CANNOT buy online
How are these establishments competing in this heavily saturated market? Webpages, social media and review platforms are very useful tools in trying to gain a competitive advantage and get more customers entering your establishment.
Webpages and Social Media are used to promote and highlight certain aspects of the establishment. Everything from different types of cuisine, rooms and amenities of the hotel, food and beverage promotions, beautiful interior and breath-taking views can be designed to create just the right image. All these things give the customer a better impression of the establishment as they make their choices of where to stay and dine.
Web pages and social media determine choice
Over 60% of your potential customers will check the establishment’s webpage or social media page prior to selecting the establishment.
The better impression you make on your potential customer, the greater the chance they will choose to stay with you.
A recent PhoCusWright study conducted in 2018 revealed the impact reviews have on travellers’ decision-making:
- 83% of respondents indicated that reviews helped them pick the right hotel
- 80% read at least 6 – 12 reviews prior to booking
- 53% won’t commit to a booking until they read reviews
- Similar trends apply with travellers for attractions and restaurants:
- 68% of respondents say reviews help them learn about attractions
- 64% read reviews to find the best restaurants
It is extremely important to get new customers to visit the establishment, but it is more important to keep them coming back time and time again. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
There are many methods for getting your customer to come back, but the one most highlighted by customers is Service: give them a memorable hospitality experience.
What are the downfalls of NOT providing good service?
Poor customer service is one of the leading reasons customers leave a hospitality establishment with the intention of never returning.
Research suggests that bad service is by far the biggest factor leading to negative reviews on TripAdvisor. A poll of nearly 5,000 Telegraph readers in 2016, saw "bad service" placed above "quality of food and drink" and "size/style of room" as the aspect of an establishment most likely to prompt a negative write-up, with bad service totalling 58 % of the votes cast. This is further supported by a recent study by TripExpert, another travel review website, which found that 41 % of TripAdvisor's one-star (bad) reviews cite "service" as the main problem.
With so many choices available in the sector, today’s consumer does not have to tolerate poor service. They will simply never return.
A Mastercard survey among restaurant guests in 2013 saw that 80% of ALL complaints received in these establishments were related to POOR service, and found that 1 in 4 customers would never return to the establishment if they were dissatisfied with the service provided.
The industry is in the "Age of the Customer," and it is up to the establishment to train their staff to provide customer service that goes above and beyond. The success of the business depends on the quality of their customer service.
Happy customers talk. Unhappy customers talk, and then talk some more and negative "Word Of Mouth" (W-O-M) spreads like wildfire, particularly in this day of social media and on-line reviews.
The power of W-O-M has huge effects for the establishment. According to a Nielsen Survey, 92% of consumers choose to rely on recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. This works not only for recommendations, but warnings as well.
Providing poor service not only effects the perceptions and future choices of new and potentially loyal customers, but has huge implications on the bottom line of the business due to the cost of acquiring new customers.
Good service – A competitive advantage/strategy
Excellent customer service is vital in all businesses. It is the first opportunity an establishment gets to amaze their customers and therefore create a lasting impression. For the customer to return, the need for the establishment to deliver what was promised is paramount. The effects are made even more perfect if you can exceed expectations wherever possible.
Every business needs to keep customers happy, but in the hospitality industry it is of vital importance to keep guests engaged in order for the business to grow and prosper. Good customer service is one of the keys to success in any business, but is particularly important in the hospitality industry, where guests are looking to staff to help them make their experience as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.
Great service makes customers feel that you care about developing a long-term relationship that means more than just making a sale. Focusing on delivering customer service benefits hospitality establishments more than mere advertising on Social Media or Google. Improving "first contact" impressions is one of the primary drivers of customer satisfaction.
For hoteliers and restauranteurs, learning how to constantly innovate to meet increasingly high expectations and provide good service is one thing they must not forget. The customer should be at the centre and services should be designed around them.
Taking care of staff and training them is therefore a must in every hospitality establishment. These employees are the ones interacting and providing service to the customer. Celebrating positive initiatives taken by any staff in this regard, communicating and sharing information on a consistent basis, empowering personnel, fostering wellness and paying attention to intuition are just a few of the small but critical items necessary for hospitality staff to produce the kind of guest and customer service ethic that will impress customers.
No matter what role we hold in a business, we all know if we respond to customers’ requests quickly and efficiently, chances are that they will choose to stay with us in the future, and even better, spread positive W-O-M to family and friends.
In hospitality around the world companies recognise the benefits of good service for winning and retaining customers. Customers who experience good service stay loyal to the business, more so than those who have bad experiences, thus developing the best, most well-equipped front-line workforce is critical to success.
Author: Michael F. J. Clarke, CEO & Co-Founder, Kingsmen Hospitality Services, a leading advisory and training organisation for the hospitality industry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or +66 (0) 94 323 7428
Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, email@example.com. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.