The power of leveraging the emotional economy
by NANCI SHERMAN
Simply put, the emotional economy is an outgrowth of the experience economy. And, make no mistake, emotional needs and desires drive purchasing decisions more than rational considerations such as price or quality.
Consider the following as your portal to the hearts of your guests and staff.
1. TO BE OUTSTANDING IN BUSINESS, YOU MUST FIRST STAND OUT
Branded or independent, your STR report competitors want to steal your guests. You need to find out what you can do better than anyone else that will distinguish you from the pack and allow you to charge more for the experience guests feel when they stay with you. If you aren’t No. 1 in your market, something is missing from your gameplan.
Every leading business has a personality and a distinct vibe. Does your hotel have one? If so, is it reflected in your processes and procedures?
2. FORGET “LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.”
INSTEAD, THINK “DIFFERENTIATE. DIFFERENTIATE. THEN, DO IT AGAIN.”
In today’s competitive climate, it’s no longer enough to just be good at what you do. You need to distinguish your culture and your business from your competitors or suffer inventory discount strategies. While many business schools don’t teach innovation or risk-taking strategies, it’s vital that businesses consistently embrace innovation for long-term survival.
To get the process started, consider listing every current process at your property by order of necessity. Then ask, “Can it be improved? Is it customer-centric or do we do it because accounting likes it?” Then, come up with a handful of other ideas guests may prefer.
And, these ideas don’t have to come from outside an organization. Many businesses have found their next great idea within their own ranks by implementing a workplace culture that awards team members who think like entrepreneurs.
3. ELIMINATE “GUEST SATISFACTION” FROM THE HOTEL’S VOCABULARY
This term can be interpreted to indicate a celebration of mediocrity – you covered the basics and met the expectation. It isn’t even close to delighting the guest and attaining their loyalty.
Exceeding expectations should be the only goal for your guests. A spotless room is an internal goal for operations. Guests expect a room to look like they’re the first ones to stay there. What can you do differently so they leave your hotel with a “wow!” and tell 10 people about you?
The big-picture goal is to put customers at the center of everything you do.
4. BORROW THE #1 BEST PRACTICE OF LUXURY AND LIFESTYLE HOTELIERS
Everyone likes to feel special, so capturing guest traffic is often a matter of personalizing the experience for each guest.
Whether you’re branded or independent, or have 100 or 1,000 rooms, you can make each guest feel like the most important one there. That can be accomplished through a bit of “performance art” – or delivering each process extraordinarily. Good or bad, business is theater. Think of your team as your cast. Use role play and improv in your staff development. There are countless ways to impress your guests. You just haven’t discovered many of them yet.
5.SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
If you are not at the top of the charts TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the major travel sites, you are missing traffic in your market. So, what can you do to become a customer magnet? As Bonnie Raitt sang, “Give ‘em something to talk about.” This can be accomplished through a hotel’s vibe, guest personalization, and creating experiences beyond expectation.
And, once again, look no further than the hotel staff for help figuring out what guests want – polling team members to find out what they think constitutes an amazing stay. Tap into the talent all around you. When you make people part of the process, they’ll own it with all their hearts.
If your business isn’t currently leveraging the emotional economy, you’re missing out on opportunities to create stronger relationships with your customers and differentiate yourself from competitors. By tapping into the emotional economy, you can capture more market share, drive greater revenue with less discounting, and earn a reputation for offering unique value to your customers through a commitment to innovation and excellence.
The time to innovate is always now. Get a head start before your competitors wake up and before all that remains is benchmarking the market leaders.
Author, consultant, and hotelier Nanci Sherman brought more than 15 hotels to No. 1 in their comp set, some even out of bankruptcy. Conde Nast voted Windstar Cruises the No. 1 small luxury cruise line the year after she consulted with them. Learn how to create your hotel’s identity statement at Dare to Be Exceptional.