The Internal Guests at Your Hotel—The Best Promoter for Your F&B Operations
How would you identify your fellow associates at your hotel—the front desk attendant, the reservations clerk, the concierge, the director of housekeeping, the rooms division manager? All have their place within your hotel, providing a variety of duties and tasks based on endless schedules which eventually bring them in contact with your paying hotel guests. They also represent a vital link to your F&B operations, as they will undoubtedly be the best promoter for every dining outlet within your hotel property.
It’s an implied expectation that your hotel associates will foster their best PR efforts in their daily interaction with the hotel guests, but have you challenged them appropriately to promote everything that is outstanding about what you serve at the hotel, how foods are presented—and how enticing room service at your hotel can be, when you are dealing with a busy corporate traveler who may not have had the time to engage in a full, sit-down meal at your signature restaurant – which has just closed for the evening?
Think of your associates as internal guests at your hotel and treat them as you would your paying external guests. You will certainly learn very quickly how internal marketing efforts rely on your astute employees to communicate what is positive and alluring about your hotel when they interact with the hotel guests. How quick are you to challenge your associates to identify what promotional efforts are currently taking place at your hotel and, most importantly, within your dining outlets?
The astute GM will want to explore the varying levels of appropriate communication taking place between and among hotel personnel and the hotel guests when on his or her daily rounds throughout the hotel property. A former GM with a highly credentialed background and impressive professional certifications to his title had an excellent daily routine which took him throughout the various work stations and intradepartmental offices (not necessarily at the same time each day). It turned out to be more of a “spot check” on how the hotel associates were taking command of their duties and aptly reciting courtesy promotionals being offered at the hotel. He was as enthusiastic as a Disney team leader and—more importantly—was respected by his staff because he, too, “walked the walk and talked the talk.”
Based on an outside marketing audit of the hotel’s effectiveness in sustaining promotional activities, guest surveys, and a review of the ancillary revenue generators at the hotel (e.g., on-site/off-site catering, special events, weddings, conferences, VIP retreats, poolside dining outlet, etc.), the correlation in having an active intradepartmental promotional effort facilitated by the hotel associates (front-of-the-house) were seen as positive revenue generators for the F&B operations. I can see a great incentive program taking place among staff when they realize the quotient for hotel F&B numbers increasing can be tied to some degree to your staff’s own performance.
Room Service - Most of you probably already have the capability to deliver the same quality of menu selections from your on-site signature restaurant into an appropriately presented dining experience within the guest’s hotel room (yes, on short notice). Have you set aside pre-selected meals from your restaurant menu which can be easily replicated in short time for the late-night guest arrival—and setups for in-room service to match (preferably, out-match) the guest’s expectations? This type of effort can very well be your best promotion of your F&B operations and can certainly lead to much-improved revenues. A successful in-room dining experience will outweigh the fact that the restaurant may have just closed. If you have succeeded in surpassing your guest’s expectations, you will have gained an invaluable promotional outlet for increasing your room revenue at the very least.
Don’t be surprised if this guest Tweets his bodacious applause about your hotel and why the stay was made all that more remarkable. Watch out for these social media outlets that could turn your hotel reviews into a positive or turn failing service standards into a disaster. Just because it’s a late-night service to the guest’s room doesn’t negate your responsibility for extending your hospitality and premiere service standards to the late-arrival guest. Everyone’s a CEO somewhere (in my mind).
Other employee-guest approaches relate to how your internal guests (hotel associates) interact with the hotel guests. Help your associates promote the specialties of the day with a morning e-mail identifying what’s taking place at the hotel that day. Everyone on staff who has direct contact with the hotel guest needs to know what’s being promoted each day from the kitchen: daily specials, a wine-tasting reception at the club level, a tapas medley being served from the cocktail lounge, or even a visiting celebrity chef’s food presentation in one of your private dining rooms.
One of the perks for hotel associates is that they, too, get to dine in the hotel’s eateries (to some extent). Gaining their input in an unofficial way always helps you obtain a “preview” of responses, favorable or not. You will have time to change, fix, or adapt your meal preps in time for your paying guests. I have encountered on a few occasions some rather inedible meals and often wondered how such food could have passed quality-control measures in the kitchen before it’s delivered. It’s tedious to monitor appropriate thermal heat, meat cuts that are tough as nails, and mystery sauces that seem to have been forgotten on the back burner. Obviously, someone’s not happy back in the kitchen and it’s now reaching the guest—way too late to correct.
Lastly, I must consider my online colleague from this site, Ron Wichowski, for his recent blog “The Clock Never Stops Ticking” (quoting): "It has been proven time and time again that if you take care of the people who take care of the people, then the people being taken care of will take care of the business."
This succinctly states what all of us already know. It invokes the parallel workings of how one should deal with the external guest—the paying guest—as well as our internal guest, the staff.
This is what the business is all about and it takes a strident professional down the universal path of meeting all needs, all at the same time, and with discernible resolve to accommodate the inside workings within the hospitality industry. We learn from every experience but only when we can adapt to what’s needed to fix what’s wrong, or improve where we have gained insight. But in the end, it’s the external hotel guest who will derive the best experiences by virtue of the hotel’s internal guest(s).
How do you reward your employees and what sort of internal promotional activities work best in your operation?