Four Ways to Provide "Instant" Hospitality

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Part of the success of social networking is the ability to have things fast and on your own terms. Choose your friends, conversation, issues and activities and communicate at any time of the day or night. Chat with friends online. Customize your wall, build your own community. Participate or not, it’s your choice. Another plus is the ability to do this without having to deal with another individual face-to-face. No pleasantries, no small talk. You can get what you need, do what you need to do and be on your way.

How can you adapt your hospitality services to this “on-demand” culture? One of the ways is to make more of your features “self-service” without downgrading the experience. Here are some observations from my travels of four ways to provide instant hospitality.

1. Breakfast buffets. While traveling in Scotland, we stayed in a four-star hotel that offered a breakfast buffet every morning. Just about anything you could possibly want was available—from a full Scottish breakfast complete with black and white pudding, haggis, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms to porridge, eggs, toast and fruits. Guests were comfortable making their own toast to taste, and choosing from a variety of condiments and spreads. Charge your regular customers, offer free breakfast as an incentive to frequent travelers or members of your travel club. Guests can come and go as they please, eat what they want and be on their way.
2. Downsize the dining room. When landing in a new city, most guests want to get out of the hotel and enjoy the best restaurants in the area. Few choose to stay and eat in the hotel, leaving a large space virtually empty and employees underutilize. Instead of a concierge or Executive floor or lounge for a few elite guests, offer an evening version of the breakfast buffet with wine and cocktails, finger foods, cheese and desserts. After a day of sightseeing or business meetings, a comfortable area with light fare and quiet conversation or just the company of other people can be relaxing and profitable for the hotel.
3. Make more services available online. Instead of phone calls that go unanswered or recorded messages that have to play before a guest can make a request, use your hotel intranet or Facebook page to post messages or make requests. Have someone monitor text messages from guests. Chances are that this method of communication is preferred by your tech-savvy front desk and concierge staff, and is second nature to younger guests. Offering the option to communicate in this way will identify your brand as being in step with today.
4. Use your Facebook page for feedback. Encourage your guests to use express their delight and concerns, and then monitor their comments and give instant feedback.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and workplace consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at, and on the web at

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