Any business can offer good or basic customer service but what do your guests expect and how can you fulfil their expectations?

Welcome to another addition of hospitality property school.

I’m your host Gerry MacPherson and today we are going to talk about Customer Service.



I have a quick question.


“Do you think the quality of your customer service is important for your hospitality property? Your hotel, B&B, inn or resort?”


With the economic downturn in the last few years, many in the hospitality properties suffered. This is especially true for the smaller independent hotel segment, inns, bed & breakfasts and resorts.

If you have been an owner/operator of a hospitality property for a while, then you might have seen the average hotel occupancy rate fluctuated dramatically over the past couple of years.

There has been no guarantee of consistent repeat business.

You may have welcomed new customers, hoped they would enjoy their stay and maybe someday return but have you been asking yourself these questions.


How can I get them to return?

And if your customers don’t return …Why?


You want to ensure that your customers have a wonderful experience at your property and avoid disappointing them by only fulfilling the basics.

Here are some of the reasons guests might not return, according to a study conducted by the Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism.

  • 1 % because of death
  • 3 % because of move
  • 5 % because of change of habits
  • 9% because of wrong price policy
  • 14% because of lack of product quality
  • 68 % because of lack of service quality


Well, if you can say …

“We only offer quality service, none of these other factors applies and our occupancy rate is always 90% or better” 

…then your business is in perfect shape and you need not read any further.   


If this is not the case…

Then you might be interested in how both unhappy and happy customers might describe their experience at your property.

  • 1 unsatisfied guest tells 10 other persons about it
  • 1 satisfied guest brings 3 new guests
  • Delighted guests spend 5 times more money


“I know my guests and if they were unsatisfied with their experience, they would complain.”




Statistically, only 4 out of every 100 guests complain and up to 75 % will choose your competition for their next stay.

Only 8-20 % stays loyal despite their dissatisfaction.


So what does this all mean?

“Unsatisfied guests do not complain, they just do not come again.”


But not all is lost:

About 85 % of unsatisfied guests whose complaints were handled appropriately, will remain as loyal guests.

There are many factors that you can control by ensuring that you are consistent with your Chain of Service.


“What does Chain of Service mean?”

You focus on the care of your customer from the first contact until after they arrive back home.

Have a step by step guidelines and scripts for each aspect of your guest’s interaction and ensure your employees know them.


Taking a Reservation (Guidelines for reservation staff)

  • Have a standardised script for all phone reservations and follow the same procedure every call.
  • A list of the required information you need as well as a section for special requests.
  • Eliminate any distractions or disturbing noises at reservations desk e.g radio or TV
  • Answer the phone no later than the 4th ring, avoid long waiting
  • Do not keep the client on hold longer than 1 minute, otherwise, promise to call back.
  • Greet the guests with the hotel‘s name, employee name and/or a salutation like: “How can I help you” or a typical regional greeting.
  • Have a pad of paper and pen to write down the guest‘s name and use it as often as possible. This creates a personal atmosphere and guests a feeling of being paid attention.
  • Be clear and enunciate.
  • Your employee should convey friendliness and reliability while on the phone; smile because the guest can hear you smiling. Have a stimulus such as a happy face or humorous picture hanging by the phone. It may sound corny but it works.
  • To avoid mistakes, ask for the spelling of important facts (e.g. names, reservation data, account details) and repeat them to confirm.
  • Offer extras if applicable e.g. restaurant reservations, shuttle service.
  • Please, Thank You and With Pleasure are phrases which can never be used too
  • Clearly verbalised payment practice


After the call:

  • If necessary complete your notes immediately while the conversation is still fresh.
  • Sent booking confirmation, brochures etc. immediately (within 24hrs or the next day)
  • Prepare realisation of guest‘s wishes
  • Begin file on each guest.
  • Have your registration employees sign the checklist once it is complete. This is for both the guest‘s benefit and for the success of our company.


Reservation via the Internet

  • Ensure all instructions are easy to find, this means clear and easy enough for a young child to understand (I am serious about this).
  • The website is easy to navigate.
  • A FAQ page and/or reliable contact resource.


Mail via Post

  • Answer all questions as well as the most commonly asked questions by other guests.
  • Respond quickly
  • Be proactive and include a significant, relevant and appealing material with every post.



In this podcast, I looked at the downside of not offering great customer service and ways to improve your booking procedure.

In our next podcast, we dive a little further into great customer service.


That is our time for today. To find out more about great customer service techniques, check out our training tutorials at


I would like to hear about your customer service techniques. If you would like to share or have any questions or feedback you can leave them in the comments section of the show notes at:


That’s it for this session of hospitality property school. We appreciate your comments and if you have topic ideas, feel free to reach out to us on

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So, as always, let’s work together to put heads in your beds.

Until next time, have a fun day.


Music Credit:

Sun Spark


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Hospitality Property School is a division of Keystone HDC