Is it time to use a new methodology to improve your guest experience?
After a long day traveling, there are two things you don’t want to find entering a hotel lobby: an empty counter or a long line. What you want is quick service, a friendly welcome, and a key packet ready to go.
Unfortunately, on one of my business trips this summer, I walked into the hotel lobby where check-in was a lingering maze of people which resembled the line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. To make the situation more surprising, this property is a mega-resort casino, an industry leader, and not considered a value brand.
Being a savvy traveler, I wasn’t going to sit back and accept our fate. So, I left my husband Brady in the long maze of people while I went to the check-in kiosk line. After thirty minutes, I made my way to a team member stationed near the kiosk along with another person, helping guests when the machine did not work. When a team member tells you, “It’s a good thing you are in line now because, at times, it can be up to two hours to check-in.” Generally, I would think the team member was exaggerating, but I discovered she wasn’t. Throughout my stay, I heard frustrated visitors talking about the “horrible” check-in experience at various venues throughout my stay. It took one guest five hours to get into a room for an expedited “buy-up” option that needed to be resolved at the desk.
Technology Doesn’t Always Improve Efficiency
According to Raving Hospitality Partner Brett Magnan – who happened to be the unlucky guest – he says this type of failure is much larger than an inefficient hotel team. “Technology has given us many options to improve the guest experience, but too often it makes it worse. Fixing this requires digging into the core failures of the guest experience.”
Lean Six Sigma Approach
Maybe it is time for a hotel efficiency audit, using a Lean Six Sigma approach. (This methodology was used by Motorola in the United States in 1986 to compete with the Kaizen business model in Japan.) Apply this way of thinking to all areas of your operation. By taking a Lean Six Sigma approach to improving your operation, you will discover ways to improve costs as well as the guest experience. Lean Six Sigma is about making data-based decisions for improvement and is used extensively in manufacturing. Companies like Nike, Amazon, and Toyota, to name a few, use the methodology to eliminate waste and improve production. If we think of our front desk check-in process as a production line, we can use the principles to improve guest service.
Steps to Applying the Lean Six Sigma Approach to Improve Casino Guest Service:
Focus on the guest – I know you are thinking, “of course, we do this.” But it is easier said than done. What do we put them through to get into their room? Ask them. They will tell you.
Identify how the process gets done – A team member should be assigned to outline the actual steps and measure the time it takes for each step. Evaluate your check-in data versus labor over a measurable period.
Improve the process flow – Now create a best-case scenario process. Do you need more kiosks or terminals? Alternatively, is it just a matter of better scheduling? You won’t honestly know until you look at the numbers.
Remove non-value-added steps – Identify the measures you can eliminate to improve the experience.
Reduce variation and manage by fact – Finally, create a measurement tool and implementation plan to ensure consistency and ongoing improvement.
Moreover, don’t forget the areas where you don’t see a line like room service, lost and found and housekeeping. How long does it take for a guest to make a reservation on your website and over the phone? How many dropped calls or reservations do you have? What time do reservations get made? Evaluate and categorize the questions that come through your website. The key is to evaluate using data and then institute continuous measurement to ensure consistency. This type of data-driven approach will work when all departments get involved. They begin to identify each step of the guest or team member journey as a process. If implemented correctly, you can create an efficient and more profitable organization.
If this sounds like too much work, maybe there is a simpler solution? Schedule your Corporate Executives, VP’s and managers to work the hotel check-in area daily until the problem is resolved.
This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of Casino Journal.