Handle problems with care

ritz-carltonlogoLast December I worked with a hotel leadership team in Dayton, OH. One of the discussions lead to identifying the obstacles that stood in the way of creating promoters of its hotel.

Consumer research firm Bain and Company defines promoters as those customers who are the least price-sensitive, have the highest repurchase rates, and are responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of positive word-of-mouth.

One of the executives, Ryan, mentioned that the frequency of problems experienced by hotel guests was an obstacle. In examining this further, it became clear that a contributing factor was the condition of the hotel’s guest rooms due to needed renovations that had been postponed due to the economy.

And they’re not alone. I’ve spoken with numerous hoteliers who are in the same position. They must now get by with a product that, in a more robust economy, likely would have been renovated by now. Because the product is worn, it contributes to the increase in reported problems experienced by hotel guests.

So what’s a hotel to do? Here’s an idea that I received from Horst Schulze, Founding President and Former COO, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., LLC. Mr. Schulze calls it the C.A.R.E. (Clean And Repair Everything) program:

Before the C.A.R.E. program, Ritz-Carlton hotels would take an entire floor of a hotel out of service once a year in order to deep-clean guest rooms. By doing so, its guest rooms would not deteriorate as quickly. At 75 percent occupancy, a typical Ritz-Carlton hotel room would last for five years.

Under the C.A.R.E. program, four rooms were taken out of service and deep cleaned every day. This meant the room was like new every three months. In a typical Ritz-Carlton hotel, a ten year-old room was newer and cleaner looking than a two year-old room in other hotels.

What effect did the C.A.R.E. program have on the frequency of problems experienced by its guests? The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., LLC is a two-time recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. During the last year Ritz-Carlton received the award, there was only one reported defect per 10,000 room nights sold!

What has your experience been? What are you doing to anticipate and reduce the problems experienced by your own customers?

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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