AAHOA industry partners share their perspectives on guest satisfaction
What’s your philosophy on guest satisfaction?
Steven Werner, Vice President, Account Management, Avendra: Avendra’s philosophy on guest satisfaction is simple. We focus on ensuring the supply chain is optimized so our customers can focus on their guests’ satisfaction. We negotiate the contracts and vet the suppliers and manage procurement challenges throughout the entire supply chain, so our customers can use that time and those resources for exceeding guest expectations.
Kaycee Strewler, MS, Senior Technical Account Specialist, RD&E, Ecolab: Ecolab understands the impact guest satisfaction has on the vitality of a business, especially in the hospitality industry where a single-percentage-point improvement in guest satisfaction results in increased revenue. Ecolab prioritizes science-based expertise, innovation, and partnership to help customers improve guest satisfaction. We do this by providing robust and holistic hygiene and infection-prevention programs that evolve in lockstep with changing guest expectations. Our longstanding partnerships with customers and industry associations help inform the development of programs and solutions that are well positioned to meet guest expectations and drive industry growth.
Brian Venable, National Director for Content Distribution & Partnership Management, WarnerMedia: HBO has always put quality content first when it comes to the hotel market. We believe premium, award-winning entertainment will always elevate the in-room experience with the best hit movies and original series that guests can consistently count on. With easily accessible entertainment options for all guests, HBO is the perfect in-room amenity for any hotel property.
How has COVID-19 impacted the ways hoteliers deliver great guest satisfaction?
Strewler: While cleanliness has always been a top driver for guest satisfaction – with overall cleanliness of a room and cleanliness of a bathroom coming in at numbers one and two – COVID-19 has changed guest (and employee) expectations, how cleanliness is defined, and ultimately, the way in which hoteliers deliver guest satisfaction.
In response to COVID-19, guests expect hotels to have enhanced safety procedures and protocols, driving a shift to focus even more on cleaning for hygiene. Hotel environments not only need to look clean, but they need to be properly sanitized or disinfected as well. Guest expectations have driven hoteliers to consider the importance of demonstrating clean. Many have opted to highlight their enhanced cleaning procedures, making previously invisible hygiene efforts more obvious and visible. They’ve added additional amenities for guest use, such as hand sanitizer stations and disinfecting wipes in high-traffic areas to promote a culture of hygiene.
In addition to demonstrating clean, hoteliers are focused on communicating their additional efforts to provide clean, hospitable spaces. This is being done through on-site signage, social media channels, email blasts, and even consistent messaging delivered directly to guests by the employees. All of this messaging is meant to reassure guests and help drive guest satisfaction.
Werner: There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused an enormous change in guest behaviors and expectations. Regarding the next steps during the recovery period, there is obviously a heightened sense of safe food-handling practices and cleanliness, and properties will need to modify their operations to adjust to new regulations, brand standards, and guest concerns. Hoteliers also are starting to reimagine the guest experience, particularly with guestrooms, and consider changes such as removing magazines and notepads because they could be viewed as something additional in the room that could carry the virus. We also expect amenity kit offerings will continue to include PPE items such as masks, disposable wipes, and hand sanitizer. Operators must make it clear to guests that they are providing a safe and comfortable environment. In this new normal and after the pandemic ends, the supply chain will continue to support these changing needs.
Venable: With limited or restricted property amenities, the need for an exceptional in-room experience is more critical than ever for hoteliers and their guests during a pandemic. As part of an effort to support the hotel industry, HBO pledged an unwavering commitment to provide the best in-room entertainment available and property rebates to offset the cost of HBO while we’re on the road to recovery. HBO Property Rebates can be found at www.HBOBulk.com.
What did 2020 teach you and/or your company?
Werner: Firstly, overall, I would like to believe the industry has learned that the need to continually evaluate and optimize all aspects of the hospitality supply chain for supply chain assurance has never been more apparent. For hotel operators, it should remain at the top of the list. It always was for us, and this year has just reinforced it even more. Secondly, the ability to react quickly to evolving circumstances is critical. Thirdly, having a well-trained and well-led team is incredibly important, especially during challenging times.
Strewler: Ecolab has always understood the value of hygienic environments and robust infection prevention programs. For me personally, this pandemic reinforced the importance of the work we do every day in support of our customers and the hospitality industry, whether through on-site or virtual training, procedure development, or strategies to optimize operations during uncertain times. The year 2020 has taught me the importance of going back to the basics – ensuring that our customers understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, how to read product labels, and the significance of contact times. All of these go a long way in promoting hygienic environments.
Venable: The year 2020 has increased our responsibility to actively listen to our customers, their guests, and our distributor partners throughout the industry. Under these challenging circumstances, we have become more resourceful than ever and continue to make our customers and hospitality partners our main priority. We must be creative and effective in offering support where possible and continue to adapt to the evolving challenges that affect us all.
What’s one thing hoteliers can do right now to improve their business?
Werner: One thing hotel operators can do right now is to take an in-depth look at their purchasing strategies. They should be evaluating their purchasing practices and identifying specific opportunities across their portfolio, knowing what their properties are ordering and their margins, limiting delivery times and frequency, and centralizing purchasing when possible. Now is an ideal time to work with a procurement service provider who can help them lower their purchasing costs and ensure their supply chain is fully optimized so they can get back to business safely and efficiently.
Strewler: One thing hoteliers can do right now is to not only demonstrate but also communicate the enhancements they’ve made to their hygiene and infection-prevention programs. We know cleanliness drives guest satisfaction and increased visibility into these protocols is one way they can help improve their business and manage through this COVID-19 era. Additionally, partnering with companies that can provide not only innovative solutions and personalized service but also ongoing consultative support and expertise will serve them well.
Anticipating the importance of cleanliness and hygiene today and into the future, we developed Ecolab Science CertifiedTM – a comprehensive program that helps businesses deliver a higher level of cleanliness through science-based products and protocols, training, and audit verification. Additionally, businesses can earn and display the Ecolab Science Certified seal digitally and onsite to serve as a visible sign of their commitment to advancing cleaner, safer practices.
Venable: Maintain a positive outlook and invest in the future. This pandemic affects us all both personally and professionally. Working together to reach our common goals and investing in technology for our customers is key. Innovative technology will not only enhance the guest experience, but it will make us stronger, more guest-focused, and sustainable on the road that lies ahead.
Steven Werner has more than 25 years of experience within the hospitality industry, serving in various roles, including Supply Chain Management and F&B/OSE Purchasing and Consulting. In his role as Vice President, Account Management at Avendra, Werner is responsible for managing a large group of clients with a team of account managers focused on helping clients improve their bottom-line and deliver high guest satisfaction. Avendra, an AAHOA Club Blue Partner, is North America’s leading hospitality procurement services provider offering supply chain management solutions that are tailored to a client’s business strategies and needs. www.avendra.com/aahoa/
Kaycee Strewler, a senior technical account specialist in the RD&E function, has been with Ecolab just shy of five years. She serves as a technical resource for global hospitality and foodservice customers and has taken a primary role in consulting on product and procedure recommendations related to COVID-19. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Science, a Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences, and has held various roles at Ecolab in Regulatory and RD&E.
Brian Venable is National Director of Content Distribution overseeing Lodging Sales and Marketing at WarnerMedia. Based in Atlanta, GA, Mr. Venable’s responsibilities include promoting and selling HBO, CNN, and Turner programming to the lodging and multifamily industries for both linear and streaming services. He joined HBO in 1997 working in HBO’s finance department and since then has held various positions in finance, sales and marketing. Brian earned a bachelor’s degree from Wingate University in Wingate, NC. He is active in many industry organizations such as AAHOA, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), and is a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.