“WOW! Take a look at this beautiful buffet they’ve laid out for our lunch today!”“Oh my gosh! I can’t believe how creative this room amenity is! ”
Although the word ‘service’ itself is a noun, the definition actually implies helpful action done or given from one party to another.
In fact, the dictionary describes it as follows: SERVICE = Work done for the customers of a store, restaurant, hotel, or similar establishment, often with regard to whether it pleases them or not.
That’s precisely why, in this industry, service is king! Many times we can overlook the worn carpeting on the ballroom floor or the
outdated room décor if the hotel is constantly going above and beyond with service levels. Don’t you just smile when the maid
recognizes that you need extra wash cloths or bath towels each day? Have you ever returned to your room and got all happy when you saw that thoughtful turndown service complete with chocolate truffle on your pillow? These are all examples of things we’ve grown accustomed to when we think of great service, but now more than ever, resorts and lodges are upping their game when it comes to providing us with the ‘WOW’ factors that make meeting planners perk up and notice one facility over another.
Rod Anderson, National Sales Manager for MetalTek International, described his experience with service. “We’ve held our annual sales meeting at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort for the past three years, and while their meeting planning, support staff, and customer service has been outstanding, for us what separates them from others is a combination of four things: 1) the awesome hotel amphitheater, 2) having a high-quality golf course onsite, 3) convenience of their location to Chicago area airports for both domestic and international guests, and 4) they allow us exclusive use of the Sport Grill for our evening hospitality. For us, it’s a totally winning combination.”
So with that glowing review, I decided to chat with Nathan Karsten, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center located in DuPage County, also known as Chicago’s Western suburbs. I asked him what other ways they had to keep planners like Anderson coming back year after year, “We’re a full-service resort with some unique venue options like hosting private events in our gardens or kitchen. We have a wonderful, award-winning culinary team that loves to work with clients to meet their vision and budgets. Plus, we have a really great leadership team here that, along with all our employees, believes in this location. Leaders participate in client events and tours; many employees have been here a long time, so we listen to them and make sure their ideas are heard, and clients always appreciate that.”
Located not too far from the Oak Brook Hills Resort you’ll find another prime example of a fantastic hotel nestled in the shadow
of Chicago but still offering some unique amenities that appeal specifically to a new genre of ‘green meeting’ planners. The Hyatt
Lodge at the McDonald’s Campus covers 80 acres of outdoor space and boasts multiple lakes, trails, and water features on their lush campus. This Hyatt manages to use their expansive outdoor environment to their advantage showcasing meeting space that actually engages nature via floor to ceiling windows, inviting natural décor, and open-air terraces. According to Craig Harvey, Director of Sales and Marketing, “Our commitment to the environment goes beyond natural aesthetics. We’re seeing an increased demand among customers for hosting green meetings and events, so it’s important to these groups that we continue to receive the Green Key Eco-Rating certification and are a LEED certified facility. We’ve also begun a comprehensive composting program in addition to our long-standing recycling efforts. The Hyatt Lodge has a goal to be an effective industry leader in maintaining a developed hotel facility while educating our associates and guests on the benefits of green practices. Which also promotes sustainability service efforts in hospitality. Even our menus reflect our promotion of sustainable farming and fishing practices.”
Given the inclusive nature of resorts, I was curious how they address employee-versus-guest satisfaction. Bryson Allen, Director
of HR for Big Cedar Lodge, just ten miles south of Branson, MO in the beautiful Ozark Mountains shared, “Knowing that every interaction an associate has with a guest can make or break their vacation, we need associates that intrinsically care about guest experience, and that motivation only comes from happy and engaged employees. [Ours] believe in the physical beauty of Big Cedar and maintain a sense of pride in being associated with our brand.”
Call it Midwestern hospitality or just plain good service. It’s obvious that the most successful resorts and hotels also focus on
employee satisfaction to create the perfect combination of facility amenities and teamwork from the venue to provide the best overall guest experiences. As the definition implies, service really is done with regards to pleasing the customer, and in this industry, that is paramount to success.
Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP, better known as TML, travels, plans meetings and then writes about all those experiences from the viewpoint of being on the road and in the center of the action. It’s usually a good combination, or at least worth an interesting read. Having worked on both sides of the industry, she writes from the viewpoint of a veteran planner as well as a travel-savvy road warrior. If you want to read more from TML you can follow her at MidwestMeetings.com and at www.tmlwrites.com where you’ll find stories covering both destinations and detours or visit her blog at www.hypeorlando.com/hospitality-hive/.