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Janet Hawk WeKoPa Way Guest Service Training

The WeKoPa Way!

From my very first job working in a casino up to today, I have been lucky enough to work with a wide variety of people who truly believe in giving the guest a great experience whenever they are visiting. Starting at the family-owned Westward Ho (a small joint on the Las Vegas Strip), we didn’t have a “formal” guest service program, but we had a general philosophy of treating others the way we would like to be treated … aka “The Golden Rule.” This wasn’t a big jump for me personally. My family and those I grew up with were all brought up that way, so it was easy for me to relate. I spend quite a bit of time now, along with the man, myth and legend himself, Steve Browne, helping properties develop and implement detailed guest service programs, so that history is coming in handy.

We recently worked with the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and their casino resort in Arizona and their new guest service program, the WeKoPa Way. It was an important culture change for the property in preparation for their beautiful new casino that will be opening in 2019. They believe that if you treat your external guests (those people who come to your property and spend their hard-earned money) and your internal guests (your team members), there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Through a lot of hard work, they have developed some really interesting and creative ways to enhance their guests’ experience, both internal and external. They have graciously allowed me to share some of these in an article to hopefully inspire others!

1. Scavenger Hunts

Fort McDowell Enterprises (FME) is a large company. They have a wide array of amenities to offer guests who visit: a beautiful golf course, Four Diamond resort and conference center, Fort McDowell Adventures, RV Resort, just to name a few! When any new team member joins their team, the training department (under the direction of Ted Sobotka, FME Staff Trainer) has designed a fun-filled scavenger hunt for them to learn more about all FME has to offer their guests. While it is not mandatory, there is a big bag of “bling” (as they call it) for those who complete all the assigned tasks! New team members have really been creative with how they document completed tasks … mostly using selfies, but some have included guests in the fun! By doing this with every new team member, they are helping them better “sell” the entire property!

The training department also gives each new team member an in-depth course in the WeKoPa Way. They learn about their Mission, Vision, Strategies and Promises that they are committed to in order to deliver Wildly Important Guest Service Standards.

2. Facilities Going the Extra Mile

The facilities department has really taken the WeKoPa Way to the next level. When we first began working with the Fort McDowell folks, many of those working back of the house were wondering why they needed to learn guest service skills because they rarely interacted with external guests. Once the WeKoPa Way was explained, it was clear! The facilities team has come up with an absolutely adorable way to let hotel guests know that issues within their room have been corrected. They leave a small card attached to a Twix candy bar. The card reads, “we TWIXED your problem” with the name of the team member who fixed the issue. I loved this idea! Problem solved AND a treat!

They also demonstrated going the extra mile several times with guests on the floor. One VERY impressive instance involved a facilities team member (along with the casino housekeeping team) who a guest approached asking about what type of product was used on the floors. The team member didn’t know because it wasn’t his department, but told the guest that he would find out. He located the casino housekeeping manager on duty for the answer. She removed the label from a bottle of wax and gave it to him to give to the guest, along with her business cad in case the guest had any additional questions. He said the look on the guest’s face was incredible because he not only came back, but really delivered!

3. Making Hard Work FUN!

The F&B team at Fort McDowell is amazing! There were so many examples of how they go over and above for not just the guests who visit their property, but for their fellow teammates. Their banquet team is second to none when it comes to teamwork and always puts the guest first. We witnessed this time and time again when we did the training and rollout for the WeKoPa Way. I’ve never seen anyone turn a room like they did! We had to introduce the new program to the entire FME team (800+ team members) in three days. This involved two four-hour sessions each day and included a “rock and roll” room where they had various vendor-donated gifts and a selfie wall (complete with wigs, inflatable guitars, and various other “rock star” items to really look the part), and each session had food and drinks.

One of the Sous Chefs really pulled out all the stops when it comes to fun! One day, Chef Carlos Felix noticed that his team was extremely stressed. They were working hard without a moment to breathe. They had a boombox playing softly in the kitchen and he noticed that it had an auxiliary outlet, so he grabbed a microphone, plugged it in, and Kitchen Karaoke was born! At first, the team just looked at him as if he were crazy. Then they started to laugh. What a unique way to release stress! Eventually, other team members would hear a song they liked and would serenade their team for a few moments. Work never suffered, but the stress was diminished.

Another favorite idea also came from an F&B member, Chuck Hutton. He suggested that they order coasters with the logo of their WeKoPa Way program on one side and on the other, the list of five promises they have for their guests having to do with service. Now, not only will the FME team hold each other accountable, but they want to include their guests in the process as well!

There is a LONG list of instances at Fort McDowell where the team is going above and beyond to ensure that their teammates and guests are experiencing excellent guest service through the WeKoPa Way. Their program will continue to grow, I have no doubt, because they have a group of dedicated teammates who are determined to stay true to the values (Respect, Accountability, Communication, Excellence), and to always, according to their Strategy, “Give Our Best to Our Guests … Every Day, In Every Way.” They truly are focused on selling SERVICE and developing a culture that demonstrates how much they care. Because they KNOW that great guest service creates LOYALTY, not only with their team members, but with every person who visits Fort McDowell Casino.

What does your team do to deliver the best guest service?

Janet Hawk

Janet Hawk