Hotel Case Study: How Excellent Service Can Build Fandom

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

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Central Hotel

The original version of this post on July 19, 2018, has been edited to highlight the power of fandom.

Delivering excellent service is essential for businesses these days. Companies that form meaningful personal relationships with customers will stay ahead of the competition by turning their customers into fans. Through putting the needs of fans above anything else, businesses can deliver service that inspires passion and excitement.

In this post, I will talk about my experience with customer service at hotels. Staff members that understand my requirements and look to accommodate my needs not only improve my experience, but also build fandom through the power of genuine human connection.

I’m a light sleeper, so whenever I check into a hotel I ask for a quiet room. The way I am treated in this initial encounter with hotel staff is a remarkable predictor of the overall quality of customer service in the hotel.

The process begins upon making my reservation. Some hotels have a free form text box to add a note to the reservation and I always add: “Quiet room, please. Many thanks!”

When I arrive at the hotel, I initially wait for the front desk staff to locate my reservation, interested to see if they mention my request. Less then five percent of the time does the person checking me in acknowledge what I asked for when I made the online booking. When they do say something like: “I see you’ve requested a quiet room and I have something I think might work,” I’m amazed.

When the online reservation request is mentioned upon check-in the relationship starts on a positive note. It’s uncanny how often that means the entire stay is great. I’m not sure if in my mind I expect the hotel to be better or if the staff is better trained, but I seem to have a better experience.

Personalize Experiences for Customers

Too often, the employee just doesn’t care. They say something like: “Sir, all our rooms are quiet.” Or, the inane: “We already have a room assigned to you.” These people don’t want to go out of their way to help and the hotel suffers as a result. This is an indication of a bad overall stay.

I particularly like when a front desk person digs into the system, looks at the room map, and helps me to choose the best room. I work with them by saying all the things I don’t care about. I prefer a quiet room to a room with the best view. High floor or low floor doesn’t matter as long as it is quiet. King bed or two queens? I’ll take either if it is a quiet room.

Sometimes the person looks a bit confused about how to handle my request, so I say this: “I’ve found that in some hotels it is noisy near the elevator and the ice machine. In rooms with interconnecting doors I can sometimes hear the television next door.” This is usually enough to get them thinking about what I prefer.

Recently when I was attending the fabulous Geoversity Nature of Business program, I checked into the Central Hotel in Panama City, Panama and I went through the quiet room discussion at the front desk. The clerk was bright and caring and said: “I have the perfect room for you. It’s really quiet because it is at the end of the hallway and it faces the back of the building next door. But we usually give this room to customers last because it is dark and very small.”

“I’ll take it!”

It was a really small room. I had a view of a brick wall. But I slept great!  

Key Takeaway

Building relationships with customers helps hotels to deliver better service. When staff members actually acknowledge my preference for a quiet room rather than treat me like just another guest, my entire stay goes so much better.

Providing that little bit extra to satisfy somebody is a fantastic way to build fandom for your business.

If you want to learn how your business can use amazing service to build a fanbase, then check out my upcoming book, Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans, which comes out on January 7, 2020.

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