What transforms a hotel from a temporary location away from home into a five-star experience? If you ask most people, they would say the amenities or location. Micah Solomon and the hospitality experts he interviewed for the book The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets, would disagree. While amenities and a good location can certainly help a hotel, these features don’t translate into a five-star experience. As the book explores, it’s a hotel’s “heart” that makes the difference.
What is The Heart of Hospitality About?
“The heart of hospitality, for me, is the ability to focus completely and totally on one person, even if only for a matter of seconds, yet long enough that you’ve got a clear connection.”
– – Chef Patrick O’Connell in The Heart of Hospitality
According to The Heart of Hospitality, a hotel’s “heart” consists of the customer service procedures that move a customer from check-in to check-out. Maintaining this “heart” is a lot harder than it looks. Besides ensuring the basics (clean room, smiling agents, clean towels, etc.), hotels have to attend to a lot of minor details to ensure the guest experience goes off without a hitch. Any break or gap in the process can lead to frustrated customers, angry TripAdvisor reviews, or even worse, lost revenue.
Exploring how high-performing hotels close their gaps in the customer service experience is the focus of The Heart of Hospitality. In the book, author Micah Solomon picks key practices and principles from some of the famous (and not-so-famous) hotels that were able to transform from excellent to superior service. These principles can range from the intuitive (“Anticipate what your customer needs”) to the more extreme (“Treat every customer like they are the last one on Earth”).
The irony is that, for the majority of examples, there isn’t a cost. The most powerful principle to turning your hotel into a five-star experience isn’t fancy and complicated marketing programs or technology. It’s the human element. It’s the process of carefully observing and refining the experience your hotel offers and then integrating that into your hotel’s “heart”, By paying attention to what makes a hotel’s “heart”, hotel owners can ensure happy customers and profits are flowing as they should.
Solomon is an author, keynote speaker, Forbes contributor, founder of Oasis Disc Manufacturing and consultant with expertise in customer service innovation and delivery. Solomon’s previous book, Your Customer Is The Star: How To Make Millennials, Boomers and Everyone Else Love Your Business puts a similar focus on customer service.
What Was Best About The Heart of Hospitality?
The best part of The Heart of Hospitality is the multi-faceted way that Micah Solomon reinforces one theme: Exceptional customer service should be a process, not an exception. In exploring this theme, Solomon doesn’t launch into an abstract “feel-good” customer service speech that could be part of any boring employee orientation. Instead, he gets down to issues that hotels actually face like wifi fees (yes or no?), room service wait times and the check-in process (automated, human touch, or both?). This approach gives readers a lot of options to choose from when trying to improve their customer service experience.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
While The Heart of Hospitality certainly gives readers a lot of options and suggestions for how these options can be implemented, there is no overall start-to-finish program for completely overhauling your hotel in this book. Instead, the objective is for the reader to pick and choose which options they would like to experiment with and compare their results to the book.
Why Read The Heart of Hospitality?
The Heart of Hospitality is designed for the hotel owner, manager or employee who wonders what a better “recipe” for customer service might look like. Solomon walks through several of the simple shortcuts, procedures and policies that help four and five-star hotels maintain their operational excellence. If you need additional cost-effective (and in a lot of cases, free) options to dramatically improve your hotel’s experience, this book will provide a basket full of options using insight from some of the top-performing brands in the hospitality industry.