What is good service? When guest expectations are low, and we exceed them … not too exciting. But when guest expectations are high, and we manage to do even better, then we have accomplished something. In order to be able to seize every opportunity to do the things that help to create guests for life, we first must be able to identify those opportunities. Being aware of what is going on around us at the moment—and knowing what is going to happen in the future—helps.
A guest may refuse assistance with their luggage as they struggle to carry their bags up the stairs, but this does not mean we can’t run up the stairs ahead of the guests to open the door for them. What is the alternative? Watch the guest carry their bags and then open the door for themselves.
Our focus and mindset must be “What can I do to make a positive impression on every guest that I come in contact with?” It takes initiative, anticipation, caring, and sometimes a little hustle.
When you recall your most memorable hotel, dining, or other hospitality-related experience, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the room, the view, or the food?
When I think of memorable all-around top service experiences, the first one that I can recall happened soon after I was promoted to general manager. I was headed on a vacation to Florida with a buddy. The owner of the hotel arranged for us to play golf at The Jupiter Hills Club. Knowing it was ranked in Golf Magazine’s top 100 courses, I had high expectations and was looking forward to playing.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, and boy, did the Jupiter Hills Club get off to a great start. To this day I am not entirely sure how they pulled it off, but when we arrived at the security guard station and I rolled down the window of the rented minivan, I was immediately made to feel important when the guard said, “Welcome, Mr. Ruby, to Jupiter Hills,” as if he had been anxiously waiting to meet a celebrity. My buddy and I shrugged our shoulders and without saying a word we both knew that this was going to be an excellent day.
The staff seemed to sense we were out of our element and anticipated our every need. We were then escorted to the bag drop where an attendant opened my door and again greeted me by name. The attendant took our bags, the valet took care of the van, and a locker room attendant said, “Please follow me, Mr. Ruby,” and brought us to our lockers, which of course had our names on them. We were then escorted up to the pro shop, greeted by name by one of the golf pros and then introduced to our fore caddie who took us to the first tee.
We finished playing the front-nine, and we were just starting to get used to our caddies doing everything except actually hitting our balls for us … (However, out of mercy, I think my caddie used a wedge when he thought no one was looking so I would avoid an impossible shot). We were instructed that it was time for lunch.
A table was already reserved for Mr. Ruby, and the hostess acted like she had known me for years. Every staff person I encountered was not only polite and proactive; they also seemed to genuinely enjoy making two twenty-something average Joes from Chicago, who were not members, feel special.
The service afforded us was unforced, and providing hospitality, was clearly more than just part of their job. Every staff member seemed to have put themselves in our golf shoes and knew how to make two regular guys feel like rock stars for a day. The bottom line is I have no idea what my score was that day, or if played well or poorly. I can’t even remember anything about the course aside from I am pretty sure there were more hills than usual in Florida—and I have no idea what I had for lunch.
But the one thing I will never forget about that day was how the staff made me feel. Almost thirty years later, I can think back to my day at The Jupiter Hills Club when I need an example of what I consider to be great service.