“Happiness is the greatest business strategy of them all."
We all know social media is the new sheriff in town. People don’t write about the cool uniforms or the discounted room rate. They write about how they “feel”—positive or negative. Word of mouth is the most underrated marketing strategy out there but creating memories and magical moments that people share triggers geometric profitability.
Experience is about how to stand out in a fiercely competitive climate—every aspect must be imagined beyond the status quo and seamless in execution. Imagine if you and your child were at Disneyland on a hot day, and Mickey Mouse removed his head covering in the middle of the park. Mr. Mouse has just shattered the childhood of every kid near him. Experience shapes us.
The voice of the Experience Economy says, “Move over transaction-based mentality. Move over yield management. Distinction is what matters now.” “Customer satisfaction” is a low bar in the world of hospitality. When anyone gives you money, satisfaction is expected, of course, but it is nary enough to earn lifelong loyalty.
No matter how much lip service is given to “customer service” in the C-Suite, the front-line team is where the “brand meets the road.” I suggest upleveling traditional training to Performance Art. Excellence doesn’t arise from giving someone a handbook or a computer. Expand employees’ ability to think by using role-play to demonstrate all the different possibilities in any interaction.
I also refer to the Experience Economy as the Emotional Economy. People, aka employees, do not automatically know how to elicit positive emotion. That “nothing went wrong” won’t win you word of mouth/raves on TripAdvisor.
· Discover what differentiates you from your competitors in the eyes of your customers and associates. Some years ago, I took over a failing boutique hotel in Atlanta. We visited the most famous high-end and successful brands in the city and discovered a niche that was missing. We eventually and sustainably became #1 in our comp set.
· Establish an Identity Statement (your IS) to inspire every stakeholder, inform every aspect of your business, and keep your decision-making on track. This differs from a mission statement as it is emotionally driven. It needs to be a meaningful concept that touches your employees as well as your guests.
· Get beyond task-based training because SOPs alone do not get people to excel and implement your vision.
Learn to love the breakdowns. They lead to dynamic breakthroughs. There is always a way up and over.