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HOTELS vs. SERVICE QUALITY

Examples for Quality seekers

 

Trace Tips

 

- Marriott Hotels and Resorts

- Embassy Suites

- Four Seasons Hotels

- Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

- Mississippi Management

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Hotels: The No Adventurer's Adventure

 

 

Imagine Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary and the rest of the Ingalls' in the family wagon (a Conestoga "Woody," no doubt) and heading to sunny California for the annual family vacation. All the great mass media families take vacations. The Bradys seek adventures in Hawaii, the Griswalds head for "Wally World," even the Munsters made the trek to Death Valley.

 

Yet something seems amiss with the idea of the Ingalls heading down the road-because it never would have happened. A big trip for them would have been a ride over to Mankato (that's in Minnesota) for supplies. A century ago, only the very rich and the very adventurous traveled for pleasure. The family vacation didn't exist. Neither did the hospitality industry as we now know it.

Lang's Ranch in the Badlands of Dakota Territory is a good example of the traveler's lodge of yesteryear. Edmund Morris, in his biography of Theodore Roosevelt, describes a stay at Lang's during an 1883 hunting trip by the then New York assemblyman and his guide, Joe Ferris: "A cold rain began to fall, and they woke to find themselves lying in four inches of water. Shivering between sodden blankets, Ferris heard Roosevelt muttering something. To Joe's complete disbelief, the dude was saying, "By Godfrey, but this is fun!' "

Today that odd sentiment tends to be reserved for summer camps and those trendy out-in-the-woods management leadership retreats. When we travel these days, we expect lodging that is as comfortable as the family castle we left-at minimum a room that is quiet and secure, a bed that is comfortable, a bath and toilet that are clean ... and a television set, and room service, and a place to jog, and a good restaurant, and a lounge, and a morning paper, and if it's not too much trouble, milk and cookies at bed time.

Where did the need for a hotel on every other corner begin? With the automobile, almost overnight, it changed the style of travel lodging. When it became not only possible but routine to convey oneself hundreds of miles in a single day, our "next town" mentality vanished. A telephone became a mighty lever for securing reservations and the car became the freedom machine. The expression "no room at the inn" was relegated to Joseph-and-Mary jokes. Successful hoteliers of the time accepted the new challenges along with their new opportunities. The hospitality industry underwent a revolution thanks largely to three men, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, and Arthur Heineman.

Arthur S. Heineman?  The same. There should be a monument erected to the man who, on December 12, 1925, opened the "Milestone Motel" in San Luis Obispo, California. It was the first "motel," and Heineman claimed a copyright on the word. He foresaw the connection between motoring and lodging. More importantly, Heineman knew the traditional hotel, designed as it was to serve an upscale, entourage-trailing customer, would not satisfy the new American traveler of modest means. So, he put his motel beside the highway and provided garages for guests. It was a revolutionary service concept separated from Roosevelt's hunting trip by half a continent and a short forty-two years.

Heineman could not have foreseen the changes that another world war, a business boom, and development of a national interstate highway system would bring. As super highways connected city after city, rural properties adjacent to the concrete ribbons began to sprout suburban business centers. Once confined to the urban core, these businesses enabled whole new lodging chains to prosper. Holiday Inn, Ramada, Marriott, and Hilton became the new hospitality giants.

Post-World War II America became a nation on wheels. Deprived of gasoline and other strategic resources for several years, we literally went on a driving binge when they became available again. We learned a lot of things during the war, including how to build better machines and roads. The economy was fired up. There was money to spend again, and things to spend it on. Business prospered and expanded. Leisure time became a reality for many. Television began to teach us how to use that leisure-what we could do with time, and where we could go to do it.

If the 1950s and 1960s were years in which the family vacation became institutionalized, they also were the period when hospitality became a true service business. Mom-and-pop motels began to make way for hotel groups, and they in turn began to lose market share to national-scale hotel and motel chains. With so many people motoring-and, soon, flying-lodging providers found it advantageous to define serious, consistent service standards and competitively necessary to engage in amenity-upmanship.

It began with a bar of bath soap. Then there were stationery packets for teasing friends back home with picture postcards that proved how much fun we were having at this particular roadside rest. Complimentary shampoo and shower caps followed, and shoeshine paraphernalia, and sewing kits. They all contributed in some way to the positive image we had of our travel lodging. Importantly, they made us feel we were getting our money's worth. It was our "perceived value" of the hotel that made us forgives the expense.

Chains provided travelers the assurance that their amenities would be consistent form city to city. Business and pleasure travelers knew that the pool, sauna, restaurant, tennis court, bar, and game room they enjoyed in Miami would be waiting for them in Seattle. And they knew that their reservation could be made for them and that the room charges would be relatively consistent.

Just how large a business has hospitality become? U.S. Industrial Outlook estimated 1986 hotel and motel revenues at $43.9 billion, and industry experts predicted 3 million rooms by 1990, an 11 percent increase. Yet despite modest gains in the numbers of travelers, occupancy rates are flagging due to the hotel construction boom of the past decade. Everyone wanted to get into the hospitality act, at least while tax and investment laws favored the industry. Now cost-containment and controlling the effects of over bedding is as relevant in the hotel market as it is in hospitals.

A predictable correction is in evidence. As the saying goes, the legislature gives and the legislature takes away. The tax climate is not propelling investors into the hotel and motel industry in droves any more. For their part, property managers are looking long and hard at the nature of their business in an attempt to remain competitive. What they are learning may be at least as important to the industry as were the telephone and the auto.

Take the amenity wars, for example: The basic bar of soap that early motels graciously offered their guests as a freebie has snowballed into a contest of largess by chains hoping guest loyalty can be bough. The simple, clean, hospitable accommodations of a couple of decades past are now surrounded by lavish physical features designed to entice and entertain.

Have those tactics worked? It seems not. Forty percent of America's hotel and motel guests in 1986, according to U.S. Industrial Outlook, were business travelers. Pleasure visitors and conference attendees each accounted for 25 percent, 5.5 percent were on government business, and 4.5 percent were on other personal business.

Because they are the largest group, an assessment of business travelers' attitudes is revealing. Late in 1986, Hotel management reported the results of a study that indicated that four of every ten U.S. business travelers do not stay in the same hotel on successive tripe, and they often leave the choice of where to stay up to their travel agent. So much for the power of consumer advertising-and, it should be added, so much for the importance of amenities.

Industry observer Laventhol & Horwath has found that travelers like the idea of having exercise rooms, tennis courts, swimming pools, steam baths, barbers, beauty salons, game rooms, audiovisual equipment, built-in hair dryers, secretarial services, and check-cashing privileges, but they don't necessarily use them. Sometimes they don't even notice them-Advertising Age's 1985 hotel-motel poll found that guests of the Hyatt Hotels never mentioned the chain's notable physical features. They gave Hyatt top marks instead for the quality and consistency of its service.

As the hospitality industry matures, and as economic pressures force out the less competitive businesses, more attention is now being paid to what guests actually want. Those who can accurately gauge guest preferences stand to rap handsome profits in the multi-billion-dollar industry. Guess what research into customer wants and expectations is finding?

According to one resort developer, luxury is the single most important element sought by guests. But luxury, the Hemmeter Corporation found out, is not pink champagne for breakfast or built-in anything. A survey conducted for it by Strategic Information Research Corporation in 1987 showed that luxury is simply service.

Among those queried were travel agents and editors, civic travel bureau representatives, and large company meeting planners. By an over-whelming 73 percent, the respondents said service is the single most important consideration in rating a hotel. It is how responsive the staff is to a guest's needs that demonstrates caring and makes one feel welcome. In the end, service is the one factor that, more than anything else, makes a guest decide to return for another visit.

The way a hotel's staff anticipates guests' needs and provides for them in a personal style is the clincher in the relationship. A good friend who travels to New York on business frequently swears by the staff of the New York Helmsely and wouldn't think of staying elsewhere. The reason? One night she had an insulin reaction. The bell captain broke into the bar for a Coke to give her the needed sugar supplement and then sat with her until the house doctor arrived.

Less dramatic acts can create loyalty as well. Our colleague Chip Bell loves the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta. His affection is due, at least in part, to one memorable occasion on which the doorman was willing to conspire with him to greet Chip's wife, Nancy, with her favorite drink on silver try. "Dr. Bell," he told her soothingly when she pulled up at the front door, "I believe you've been looking forward to this. Just leave your keys in the ignition, and let us take care of everything for you. Please have a wonderful weekend."

Even the well-traveled and famous have favorites. We listened recently as CBS Sunday Morning hosts Charles Kuralt described Richmond's Jefferson-Sheraton as "the grandest hotel in America, a combination of Ionic, Corinthian, Rococo, Spanish, Twenties, Sixties, and revival architecture that works."

There is a lot of subjectiveness in Kuralt's rating system, but we understand why a hotel can move him like that. For our part, we have a weakness for the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, Marriott's Rancho Las Palmas in Palm Springs, and the Peabody hotels in Memphis and Orlando-the last having as much to do with the enthusiasm of the staff as with they ducks swimming in the lobby fountain. At the same time, and for twenty-eight dollars night, we've found outstanding service at the Wynfield Inn in Colorado Springs.

The personal service lavished upon guests by hotels that recognize its importance can take many forms. Many rely upon a concierge to make guest fell at home and well provided for. It tickets to a show or ball games are needed, a concierge can find a way to get them, even if the event is sold out. Easy preregistration is something guests appreciate, and a quick, computerized check-out is a service the love. In the five hotels of the Fairmont family (San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, Dallas, and New Orleans) we've found staffs whose savvy and sophistication are on a par with the best we've seen in Europe and the Orient.

Some hotels go to great lengths to instill the desire to provide service among their employees. Form maids on up, all twenty-five hundred employees in the seven hotels of Boston-based Sonesta International Hotels have been playing a board game that teaches them how to handle customer service needs. Other companies have their own view service that it is providing a thriving business for companies that send in "mystery guests" or "secret shoppers" to test employees' responsiveness to customers in both normal and stressful situations.

The objects of all this sincere attention by hotels are also the objects of a lot of study these days. Ask some managers to profile their customers, and more than a few might rely, "We wish we knew!" They would only be half kidding, but they would be more than half worried, because the manager who cannot improve his occupancy rates over the long run will, himself, not be around long.

Partly as a function of the construction spurt and a less than commensurate increase in guest nights, the watchword in the hospitality industry has become "segmentation." In marketing terms, the objective is to win back market share-steal it, if necessary-by identifying and pursuing specific clientele. By directing its marketing at a more narrowly defined audience, a hotel chain can realize substantial savings, both in marketing costs and even in unit construction. Unfortunately, as many as eighteen different, recognizable segments have been identified. The three most standard and practical segments are economy, mid-priced, and luxury (less than $40, $40-$80, and more than $80 a night).

It is not difficult for consumers to see what is happening in the lodging business. A spate of broadcast ads by a few economy motels in the mid-1980s has become a full-blown shouting war as marketers try to carve up budget-bound tourist pie. In the 1950s, "More is good" was a common hotel pitch. Now, "Less is okay" seems to dominate. While wooing the cost-conscious vacationer or traveling businessman, a motel that once might have invested in a heated swimming pool, sauna, and glitzy piano bar now simply promises to "leave the light on for you." A forty-water, no doubt.

Market segmentation is complicated, somewhat akin to playing chess. The philosophy behind it is based on a presumption that a pattern of guest preference can be predicted. That is possible, but it should be remembered that the hoped-for guests are the same capricious folks who voted in the people who voted out the investment laws that put the industry in its glutted predicament.

Travelers have a fairly well-defined concept of where they fit in among the various segments. Although they may fell inclined to cross over to a higher-or lower-priced accommodation, especially if that's what is available or it's a special occasion, guests will mainly follow the pattern established by their preference and economic situation. Hoteliers are banking on that likelihood.

Segmentation makes the marketing of rooms a far simpler task. Advertising may be narrowly directed through appropriate media to prospective customers identified through exacting demographic criteria. For the upper-scale segments, additional advertising avenues are suggested by the nature of the amenities provided on-site. Swimming pools, spas, and other "health-directed" amenities, for example, can find their natural audience among readers of fitness magazines. It is not likely, however, that budget motels will advertise, "Go no money? You're our kind of guest." Instead, the low-cost rooms will draw business gests on tight budgets and vacationers' en rout to someplace else, and they will not require the same elaborate advertising schemes as the luxury hotels. This may explain why the budget segment is the fastest growing, having doubled in size since 1980.

For the more upscale family, and business guests with an expense account, a new phenomenon-the "all-suite" hotel-has become popular. Its larger rooms and separate bedroom make possible business meetings in the suit. Another innovation in the industry is the "residential-style" suite, which has a fully equipped kitchen and appeals to gests who need to stay for longer periods. In fact, its rates are lower the longer the guest stays. Bed-and-breakfast inns are growing in number, too. Their entrepreneurial operators understand them yearning for a simpler time when desk clerks knew and greeted their guests by name.

Another indication of the seriousness of the present revolution in the hospitality industry is the birth of creative marketing programs. The aggressive chains are leaving no stone unturned in their search for additional market share. By late 1987, the major hotel companies where claiming millions of members in "special guest" programs that used incentive to promote repeat visits, much as the airlines were doing. Like the frequent flyer programs, those millions of members undoubtedly include many who belong to several programs and whose loyalty to the hotel is less than absolute.

Among the incentives are special accommodations and credit cards whose use adds points in the hotel's member program. Days Inns of America inaugurated a "supersaver" discount program in 1985 to provide substantial savings for guests who make reservations a month in advance. Room upgrades are common in the various programs, as are free or discounted rooms. But prizes also include free airline tickets, cruises, stereo equipment, and even luxury automobiles.

Teddy Roosevelt would be amused if he could see what the marketers of today have to do to draw guests of the no adventurous variety to their hotels. The closest he came to earning points at Lang's Ranch was for not spitting inside and for leaving his horse outside. Life was simple then gotten smarter and faster in response to the demands of competitive pressures in the late twentieth century.

There is more travel today then in Roosevelt's and the Ingalls' times because there is more need to travel. There also are more places to go, ways to travel, and things to do when we get there. For all of this diversity, there are more companies fighting tooth and nail for the privilege of helping us do it. A few are clearly better at it than others.

We've chosen five, based somewhat on segmentation, but largely based on the way their guests tend to rate them. At the head of the class is Marriott, the pacesetting lodging giant that still retains its sense of family. Embassy Suites is building the newest version of the better mousetrap, and the marketplace is clearly demonstrating its pleasure. At the high-amenity end of the spectrum, our nod goes to Canadian-based Four Seasons by a whisker over Ritz-Carlton-both are distinctive service providers. We also look at Hyatt, because of its consistency, and Mississippi Management, because it's a good example of a franchise and management company that does well under a number a number of signboards.

Although you won't find them profiled, we also were impressed by Red Lion and La Quinta for low-budget excellence and by Ramada, Radisson, and Quality for providing more than a roof. As the number of names we're dropping should suggest, that's good news. Wherever your travels take you and no matter how tight or lavish your budget, you can find plenty of good service in America's hotels and motels these days.

 

 

Marriott Hotels and Resorts

In the grand old days of grand hotels, the hotelier to be reckoned with was Conrad Hilton. Today, in an era of specialized lodging, jet-driven business travel, and clock-conscious guests, it's J. Willard Marriott, Jr. Perhaps no chief executive in America provides a better example of how service cultures are created, nurtured, and focused from the top down.

Hotels are the most visible part of Marriott's business: With more than 400 properties in the U.S. and abroad, the comparison to Conrad Hilton is not at all outlandish. In addition to the flagship Marriott line, there are all-suite Residence Inns for stays of five days or more, and Marriott Suites for overnighters, plus the moderate-priced Courtyard by Marriott and low-budget Fairfield Inn lines. Through its various restaurant chains (most of them under the Roy Rogers, Bob's Big Boy, and original Hot Shoppe's names) and airline and airport catering services, Marriott feeds more people every day than any other organization in the world.

Yet in many ways, Marriott is not a corporate name. Rather it remains a family name-one of those rare organizations that has been able to perpetuate its founders as a corporate touchstone. J. Willard Marriott, Sr., who started the company from a nine-seat root beer stand in 1927 (on the same day that Charles Lindbergh took off for glory), made a point of being able to call most of his employees by name. Today, his namesake son is as much organizational father figure as top executive. It's his vision, his sense of corporate mission, his adherence to strong personal values that drives the company.

Marriott people talk about themselves as if they really are a family, and they take an uncommon amount of pride in their work as part of the worldwide clan. Ask someone like Sam Slobovitz, a Marriott regional vice president, how an organization this large goes about creating distinctive customer service, and you get a pat answer: "It's simple. Just find a Bill Marriott to lead the organization-and I'm only partly kidding."

Here's how the management handbook explains it under the heading The Marriott Family: "The final description or element of Marriott Management is perhaps the most difficult to explain to one who has never worked for Marriott. It is something you feel in every phase of every operation and is the strongest underlying influence guiding the company. Unlike the impersonal coldness of the majority of large corporations, Marriott has human warmth about it which transforms the whole into one large team whose members constantly work for and with each other... Mr. Marriott does not look at work as drudgery but as an opportunity for growth, development and accomplishment. He believes that any honest work is honorable and good for the individual, so that he or she can progress and gain satisfaction. Mr. Marriott has always looked at his organization with the same perspective as he views his family. The identical principles of cooperation, support and openness are applied to both 'families.'"

The current Mr. Marriott credits his father with the philosophy of taking care of employees as he wanted them to take care of the customer: "My father knew if he had happy employees, he would have happy customers and that would result in a good bottom line." On the evidence-one of the highest occupancy and lowest turnover rates in the hotel industry-it works.

At Marriott, there's nothing inelegant in the details. If someone finds a departed guest's galoshes, he's expected to take the initiative and make sure they're returned. Marriott looks carefully for its kind of people (the company interviewed forty thousand applicants for twelve hundred opening-day jobs at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York a couple of years ago), then trains, rewards, and promotes them when they do things right.

Marriott is big on promoting internally-30 percent of its managers started with the company as hourly employees. It pays well, too. Both factors encourage a lot of employee loyalty. Marriott also invests heavily in the development of frontline people, making sure they have the training and skills to carry out their jobs, whether that involves cleaning rooms or planning banquets. That promotes service quality as well as personal growth, and also engenders no small amount of employee loyalty.

As a result, customers (especially business customers) continually rate Marriott as their top choice for lodaina and meeting facilities. It's the hotel name most preferred by business travelers. and the top choice of meeting planners and attendees.

Since 1985 Marriott has dominated the annual survey of business travelers conducted by Business Travel News. In 1987, the magazine's fourth annual study ranked Marriott tops overall, based on ratings in eleven service‑related categories-the third consecutive year Marriott led the pack. Among seventy‑four competitors, Marriott finished first in five categories and no worse than tenth in the other six. (What's more, its Courtyard subsidiary finished eighth overall on its own merits.) In 1986, Marriott finished first in ten of the eleven service‑focused categories, including being the easiest to work with to arrange both individual and group business travel, plus having the most helpful and courteous staff, and the highest food quality.

Becoming good is one thing. Staying good is something else again. Most hotels-and, in fact, most businesses that have a lot of interaction with their customers-have a "rate-me sheet" that asks customers to evaluate the quality of the service provided to them. Marriott calls its program GSI, or Guest Service Index, and it takes the data a lot more seriously than most.

In fact, one of the few mildly annoying things that can happen to you in a Marriott is feeling almost dunned to fill out a rating form. They'll ask you at the front desk. They'll put one on the night table in your room. They'll hand you one in the restaurant. Some managers go so far as to make a contest of it-they will buy something like a two‑hundred‑dollar briefcase and park it on the registration counter: You fill out your rating card and toss it in the briefcase along with your business card, and every week or month or whatever they'll pull out a business card (the ratings will long since have been read and acted upon) and award the briefcase to that guest.

That level of effort is no accident. Each property has a quota of forms to pass out in order to maintain a high response rate, because the higher the response rate, the more complete and accurate the GSI reading, and the better Marriott can respond to what's happening to guests in the hotel.

It's interesting how Marriott handles the information on those forms. The data is posted in every department for employees to see. When a problem crops up, however, Marriott works very hard to focus action and attention on the ratings, not the people rated. Thus, if customers are waiting thirty seconds too long in line, those thirty seconds (and not the people who might have been working the registration desk at the time) become almost a personified villain.

In addition to the GSI program, which provides local managers with a running readout of their service quality, Marriott also attacks on another front. On a regular but unannounced cycle, every hotel is "shopped" by a third‑party research company. The effort includes an nth‑name survey of people who have stayed in the hotel over the past month. Those ratings go directly to corporate headquarters, where they can have profound consequences for a manager's career: Good ratings, high guest satisfaction numbers, and the property manager's star will be raising; bad ratings, poor guest‑generated feedback, and a regional "swat team" may descend on the property to straighten things out.

It truly does start with Marriott himself. He knows the business inside and out, and he clearly enjoys it. Like his father before him, he reads hundreds of comment cards a month and makes innumerable site visits each year (two hundred thousand miles annually) to see how things are going out in the field. When he travels, he makes notes. The next time back he's likely to stun local personnel by remarking how much better the lobby looks since they moved the potted plants closer to the windows or. replaced the wing chair by the east entrance.

He's also a hands‑on executive. When a new hotel was being planned for the Walt Disney World complex, Marriott sat in on focus groups with l meeting planners to find out what they wanted and needed to organize top‑quality corporate meetings. One comment he heard was that the ballroom space wasn't going to be large enough for large meetings. It didn't take long for Marriott to acquire adjacent property to provide the, additional space.

As the introduction to the company's Success Kit For New Managers explains, "Our success at Marriott is largely a function of our service to the guest. Quality service depends on you and the successful management of your people. If you treat your people well and guide them in a positive manner, they in turn will handle the guests with the warmth, friendliness, and efficiency that are our trademarks. If you remember little else please remember that we are all at Marriott to make our guests' visits as comfortable as possible."

That reflects Marriott's own approach to his role as chief executive as it relates to the company's two hundred thousand employees worldwide: "My job," he explains, "is to motivate them, teach them, help them, support them, and care about them. If we take care of them, they'll take care of the guests."

 

Marriott Corporation
One Marriott Drive
Washington, D.C. 20058
 
1990 Update: The Marriott family now includes more than 530 properties worldwide. Conventional restaurant operations have been deemphasized in favor of food service accounts and airport and turnpike restaurants.
 
 
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EMBASSY SUITES HOTELS

A subsidiary of holiday corporation-best known for holiday inns, the nation's largest hotel chain-Embassy Suites has been a service leader in its own right virtually from day one. The first of the nearly one hundred Embassy Suites around the country opened its doors in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1984. That same year, Embassy purchased the 24 properties of the Granada Royal Hometel chain, the pioneer, under founder Robert E. Woolley of Phoenix back in 1969, of the all‑suite hotel.

What Woolley recognized, and what Embassy Suites president Hervey Feldman has refined into a highly sophisticated business phenomenon, is that the typical hotel room was designed more for construction and housekeeping efficiency than for guest comfort. especially when that guest is a business traveler or someone seeking a leisurely way to spend a weekend.

The conventional room, the most important part of the system that serves the guest's needs, is dominated by a bed. It's a place to sleep and little more. When the basic service a hotel provides is a place to sleep, that's fine. But needs have a way of changing, especially the needs of business travelers. The interlocking of companies large and small on multiregional and national levels has changed and broadened the standard hotel's service mission to include providing meeting facilities, dining and banquet facilities, even trade show and display facilities, all of them located conveniently close to business addresses wherever they may be found, rather than centralized in a downtown core. Extended stays are also, common as selling becomes more complex, which means many business travelers end up using their hotel rooms as a combination meeting room, showroom, and office‑away‑from‑the‑office.

When relatively larger numbers of people are involved, the best way to provide business‑oriented facilities is in separate and distinct meeting rooms, conference and trade show areas, and restaurants. But when only a handful of people need to be involved, the hotel room can serve such a purpose-if, that is, it has been designed appropriately. Beds, unfortunately, make poor conference tables. (And in an era when we do business from our rooms as business travelers, beds provide other complications sometimes.) 

Embassy Suites is a working example of a company doing something different to meet a fast‑developing market need. Its success is a function of "listening sideways"- perceiving and responding to a new niche rather than competing in a straight line by replicating standard designs and services.

In the all suite configuration, the bed is in its proper place: a bedroom that is physically separated from the rest of the space available to the guest. In the Embassy Suites design, the bedroom has its own television and telephone. In addition to bed and bath, the suite includes a living room furnished with sofa and chairs, a combination dining and work area, another television and telephone, and often a modest wet bar with refrigerator and microwave oven.

 

Continuing the design of Woolley's original Granada Royals (Woolley himself is the chain's largest franchisee), all Embassy Suites are built around a central atrium that provides both visual appeal and personal security-there are no long, lonely halls to walk. Included in the room rate is a free, full breakfast, cooked to order in a restaurant located in the atrium. Guests have been known to wander down to breakfast in their pajamas, and that's just fine with the management. It's the kind of "dress code" that says people feel right at home. Evenings, complimentary cocktails are served to allow guests, and their guests, to mix and mingle.

 

The primary service focus is the business traveler and his or her clients or prospects, and Embassy Suites properties are designed from the ground up to serve that demanding customer's needs. Although every room is a meeting room in the Embassy Suites scheme of things, each location also includes a restaurant, lounge, recreational facilities, and substantial meeting space. It also includes access to a national group and meeting services department that has been empowered to book a prospective customer's meeting into someone else's hotel if the area's Embassy Suites property can't handle it.

 

What elevates the Embassy Suites physical and operating design still another notch is the attention management pays to the way its people " perform within those facilities. Periodically, hotels in the system poll their customers face to face to find out how they're doing. For a period of a month or more, managers will buttonhole five guests a day around the hotel and interview them about their expectations and experiences. The next day, those guest comments will be posted in the employee lounge and reviewed by the on-site management staff. They'll also be forwarded  to the headquarters of Embassy Suites in Irving, Texas, just outside of Dallas. Both on‑site and in Irving, those comments-and occasionally, if infrequently, complaints-will be studied and analyzed and used as a quality‑control tool.

 

In 1987, for example, these mini‑surveys were conducted with more than six thousand guests who rated everything from how long it took them to check in and out to what they thought of the free cocktails and breakfasts The biggest improvement suggested was better free breakfasts-and Embassy Suites has responded by improving and expanding the menu.

 

It also involves its people at every level of the hotel. The hospitality industry, like many other service segments, depends a great deal on lower‑paid, often highly transient workers. Embassy Suites is no exception. To deliver a quality experience to its guests, the chain uses a variety of tactics, prominent among them policies and procedures designed to keep employees at every level informed, involved, and motivated.

 

In addition to the previous day's guest comments when surveys are being taken, for example, each property posts its particular occupancy rate and estimated profits for all employees to see. When there are profits-and there usually are, since Embassy Suites, according to fortune, earns a gross profit margin of 50 percent, about 20 points better than comparably priced competitors such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Westin-even the lowest‑paid workers know they can take home monthly bonuses of one hundred dollars or more.

 

If money is one motivator, personal progress is another. Entry‑level workers don't have to stay entry‑level, and at Embassy Suites many don't. At any given time, between 25 and 80 percent of the firm's hourly workers are in training programs that help them upgrade or expand their skills and qualify for better‑paying work. That means housekeepers can aspire to the front desk-and, on the basis of their training, will be paid a little more for making beds and cleaning bathtubs while they wait for their chance to move up. By continually cross‑training themselves, employees not only learn new jobs qualify for pay raises as often as every three months.

 

The best example of upward mobility may be Hervey Feldman himself. While he spent thirty years learning the hotel business, almost all of it in the Holiday Inn system, the first and enduring lessons in hotel service he recalls date back to his teenage years. As an errand boy at the Loon Lake Resort in upstate New York, he earned the minimum wage for everything from washing dishes to caddying on the golf course-but the $150 a week he hustled to take home was better than the paychecks that supported a lot of the families in his New Jersey neighborhood.

 

"It taught me the most significant lesson for my future life," he told the Dallas Business Courier a few years ago: "Make the employees happy and in turn ask happy employees to do things to make customers happy After that, it's all score keeping."

 

Meanwhile, day-to-day benefits show up on the frontline, where the hotel's guests stand to benefit. Because of the extensive cross‑training, each Embassy Suites has a ready and willing pool of workers able to Step in during peak periods, vacations, or when other workers are in training classes. That cuts down on delays and pumps up enthusiasm. A new computerized front‑desk system will allow any Embassy Suites to pull up guest records system wide, lending itself to personal service even if the traveler has never walked through the particular property's door before.

 

All that training has another payoff for employees and employer alike: The current directory of Embassy Suites locations is expected to more than double by the early 1990s, in keeping with company projections that foresee the all‑suite segment of the market growing from about 4 percent in 1987 to 20 percent by the turn of the century. Corporate growth provides personal growth opportunities for proven achievers.

 

The immediate acceptance and success of Embassy Suites shows the risk‑taking was well thought out and based on a sound assessment of the specifics of its chosen market segment. Two thirds of the hotel's guests are businesspeople, and women traveling on business have taken particular notice: They account for about 25 percent of all hotel business guests; they make up nearly 40 percent of Embassy Suites' clientele.

 

It's also indicative of a customer‑centered attitude that has put this five‑year‑old hotel chain at the top of the service quality polls for mid-and high‑priced lodging. In 1987, the experiences of 232,000 readers of Consumer Reports with the nation's major hotel chains ranked Embassy Suites number one for customer service in both the mid‑priced and high‑priced sections of the industry. And, as Fortune pointed out, the results of good service are showing up on the bottom line as well.

 

Embassy Suites, Inc.

A subsidiary of Holiday Corporation

222 Las Colinas Blvd.

Irving, TX 75039

 

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Four Seasons Hotels

 

Each year, institutional investor magazine asks a panel of senior bankers and international financiers-each of whom spends an average of more than eighty nights per year in hotels around the world-to rate their favorite hotels. Of the thirteen North American hotels named among s their top fifty choices worldwide in 1987, four of the top seven were properties operated by Four Seasons Hotels, Ltd., of Toronto. The honor roll: The Pierre, New York; Ritz‑Carlton, Chicago; Four Seasons, Toronto; Four Seasons, Washington, D.C.

The company's only European entry, the Inn on the Park in London, also made the list. In fact, 1987 marked the third consecutive year that all five hotels were ranked in the top fifty, which means 10 percent of the best hotels in the world, according to the magazine read by more than 350,000 top‑level financial executives in 140 countries, belong to the same family.

 

Institutional Investor isn't the only one to notice Four Seasons' high quality accommodations. Of the thirty‑three U.S. hotels described in Rene Lecler's The 300 Best Hotels in the World, four are (or were) Four Seasons properties: Ritz‑Carlton, Chicago (not to be confused with the hotels of the separate and no related Ritz‑Carlton chain, which also come highly rated); Pierre, New York; Four Seasons, San Antonio (since sold); Four Seasons‑Clift, San Francisco. When Business Travel News asked eighteen hundred business travelers and travel agents to rate hotel chains on eleven quality categories in 1987, the runner‑up to top‑rated Marriott was Four Seasons (in a dead heat with the aforementioned Ritz‑Carlton chain).

 

Well, sure, you might concede, any big hotel chain should place a few winners out of its hundreds of properties. Which is exactly the point: Four Seasons is not a big hotel chain. It operates just twenty‑two hotels-fifteen in the U.S., six in Canada and one in England. It's not an old company, either. It was founded in Toronto in 1961 and didn't enter the U.S. market until its 1976 purchase of the Chicago Ritz‑Carlton. That makes for a pretty high incidence of winners in a pretty short amount of time.

 

You could say that's by design. Four Seasons founder and chairman Isadore Sharp started out as an architect, and he's the first to admit that' the first hotel he built was a less than luxurious motor court in the red‑light district of downtown Toronto. Its interior design, however, was eye‑catching, and its services quite a bit above and beyond the norm for a conventional motor inn. Both were indications of things to come, but in 1961 the world's great hotels were almost universally one‑of‑a‑kind independents. The conventional wisdom was that you couldn't duplicate quality in a luxury‑oriented property. Over the ensuing years, Sharp's company has become known for conclusively disproving that old bromide.

 

According to Canada's Report on Business magazine, it's "an odd brand of luxury. Call it ascetic hedonism. Ascetic because Sharp's hotels are small (average size: 340 rooms), unexceptional in their exterior design, and about as quiet as an art gallery. And they scrupulously appeal to the ascendant less‑is‑more mentality among upscale consumers by emphasizing on‑site health and fitness clubs; low‑car, low‑sodium meals; and low‑ and non‑alcoholic beverages ... But Sharp's hotels are also hedonistic. Fine appointments, including antique furnishings, Royal Doulton china and fresh‑cut flowers ... evoke the atmosphere of an ambassadorial residence."

 

Think of it as a grand hotel on a more modest scale. Four Seasons concentrates on creating an environment of understated elegance, whether in a newly built property or through the refurbishment of a fine hotel whose best years might seem to be behind it. The Pierre, for example, was an aging dowager when

 

Four Seasons purchased it in 1981. Several million dollars later, it was reborn as one of the world's premier places to stay. Seattle's majestic Olympic Hotel was showing its age and had long; since lost its prominence in the community until Four Seasons devoted $60 million to its restoration. The Inn on the Park London (the park is Hyde) was expected to be just one more pricey entry in an overbuilt Luxury hotel market when it opened in 1970. Today, it's admired by hoteliers as well as travelers worldwide, as evidenced by its consistently high occupancy rate (95 percent or better in an industry where 70 percent is considered good).

 

Whether the property is new or old, owned by the company or operated under a management contract, Four Seasons dedicates itself to pampering guests. That's a spare‑few‑expenses philosophy that caters to an admittedly special clientele.

 

Yet the way Four Seasons goes about the job of providing personal service to very demanding guests is no less noteworthy for its relatively higher price. From the room service waiter, who cheerfully and sincerely thanks you for your order as he's serving it, to the hotel's general manager, who may spend several hours a week writing letters to his own employees to share guest comments and commendations with them, the people at a Four Seasons make an uncommon impression on even the most jaded traveler. And as customers show over and over again, they will pay more to be served the way they want to be. There's something to be said for learning from the best.

 

What makes Four Seasons a service leader? Start with scale of operations. A typical Four Seasons property has about 350 rooms and suites compared to the 500 or more that would be found under a competitor's roof: enough to be profitable, yet not so many that the staff can't provide personal service to its guests. In contrast to the rooms, however, public facilities-ballrooms, restaurants, and the like-are commonly larger than needed for the hotel itself.

 

That's because a Four Seasons sees itself as part of the fabric of its city and tailors itself to the needs of the local community. Consequently, the hotel itself will be centrally located, either downtown or in proximity to an area's corporate headquarters, not parked out by the airport.

 

Next, add staff. The average hotel, according to Hotel & Restaurants International, has about two employees for every three guest rooms. Four Seasons generally doubles that staffing norm: four employees for every three rooms. The more people on duty in the hotel, the more service they're available to provide.

 

And the more service they're trained and empowered to provide. From top to bottom, employees are carefully selected. Personnel policies have long favored hiring attitude over experience. If you really want to do the job right, Four Seasons believes, you can learn how. If you don't care about the quality of what you do all the experience in the world won't make for satisfied guests.

 

Once good people have been found, they're supported with training and then compensated appropriately. The front office staff at a Four Seasons may be earning double to triple the industry norm through a combination of salary and bonuses; it's not at all unlikely that the uniformed doorman who welcomes you is a college graduate. To keep performance focused on guests at each hotel, not corporate wide, 80 percent of all bonuses and incentives are tied directly to the individual hotel's profitability.

 

Then, think about yourself. What do you like to do, to eat, to see and hear around you? You're likely to find a lot of that designed into a Four Seasons‑run hotel. Though it serves what is generally termed the Luxury end of the lodging market, Four Seasons isn't trying to provide luxury. Its focus is on comfort. That means a residential style that emphasizes tasteful decor, antiques, original art. It means if you need or want something, there's a true concierge available to serve you.

 

It means if you're trying to stay healthy on the road, you can find a choice of gourmet selections with just 500 to 650 calories-outstanding food that's low in cholesterol, low in sodium, and yet doesn't look like something catered from the coffee shop out by the interstate. Four Seasons' "Alter native Cuisine" was introduced back in 1984-as a result of paying attention to guests and the way their lifestyles were changing.

 

Paying attention is an important, if sometimes invisible, skill. The second time you stay at a Four Seasons, you may feel as if you never left. If you enjoyed (or abhorred) the view from a certain room the last time or requested a specific kind of soap, or wanted an extra pillow, you often find "advance preparations have been made on your behalf. There's no: secret involved: On your first visit, the staff took notes. Literally. And extensively. Your guest history is part of each hotel's computerized database, and it's accessible by all hotels in the Four Seasons system It will be updated this time, too, and every time you come back Predictably, the top‑down service imperative is also at work, beginning with Sharp in Toronto. It's his belief that the last decade of the century will find an increasingly sophisticated, better educated, and more travel-savvy customer checking in at the front desk of hotels worldwide. That customer wants not just quality, but the highest value for his or her travel do. To continue to succeed, Sharp maintains that Four Seasons must continue to attract the kind of people able to deliver that value.

 

Accordingly, general managers are recruited for their ability to act as the "conductor of a symphony," making sure all the players make the right kind of music at just the right time, and in perfect harmony. 'It's important that the manager set the correct example for employees and frequently communicate to his staff," Sharp told Hotels & Restaurants International in 1986. "You must try to ensure that the reality in the working environment matches the rhetoric, i.e., it's no good to show your staff all sorts of audiovisuals about how to be courteous and then have management giving the wrong example."

 

From Sharp on down, Four Seasons managers are good examples of a thoroughgoing service‑quality commitment that has paid off handsomely for the business-and for the customers who have made that business an international success.

 

Four Seasons Hotels, Inc.

1165 Leslie Street

Toronto, Ontario M3C 2K8

 

1990 Update: Ten Four Seasons hotels received American Automobile Association's Five Diamond Award in 1990, marking the ninth consecutive year that Four Seasons, with just twenty‑two properties, has received the most Five Diamond ratings from AAA.

 

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Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

 

A curious thing happens when people are asked to rate their favorite hotels. Consistently, they name a lot of Hyatt locations. Just as consistently, they can't exactly say why. It isn't the vaulted atrium lobbies-a Hyatt trademark since it took over and finished construction of what became the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in 1967-or the glass elevators, or the fancy revolving rooftop restaurants. There's something about a Hyatt, some subtle quality of the service and facilities provided, that keeps bringing people back.

 

Consistently, it seems, what makes Hyatt stand out in the hotel business is consistency.

 

"If ever there was a time when the orange juice had to be fresh or when the turndown service had to occur in every instance, it's right now," Hyatt Hotels president Darryl Hartley‑Leonard told Restaurant Business in 1986. "If there is parity in hotels, and I think we all believe there is, then the buyer becomes very intolerant of things he had been tolerant of in the past. The customer is totally in control today. He not only has the opportunity of going to another hotel, he can go to a very similar hotel."

 

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is actually two separate and olstmct compames that manage or operate hotels under various Hyatt names (Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, and Regency Club). Hyatt Hotels Corporation is the North American side of the business. It operates eighty‑one hotels and twelve resorts in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, including the first Hyatt near the Los Angeles International Airport, which Jay Pritzker bought in 1957 from a cash‑strapped owner. Hyatt International's scope includes twenty‑nine hotels and fifteen resorts in twenty‑six countries. Although the company doesn't segment in the sense of maintaining different brand and price categories, its properties fall under one of four distinct forms: large commercial hotels (generally located in a downtown area, and often a key component in a given city's downtown revitalization efforts); suburban (or "smaller urban") hotels; resort and convention‑oriented properties; and small‑but‑luxurious hotels (the Park Hyatts).

 

The holding company, Hyatt Corporation, is privately held by the Pritzker family of Chicago, but most of the hotels under the Hyatt name are owned, either entirely or substantially, by local investor groups. Hyatt serves as manager and operator, and sometimes minority stakeholder. To maintain accountability for service quality system wide, Hyatt forgoes franchises in favor of direct, long‑term management responsibility-generally twenty‑ to thirty‑year contracts-whether or not it has an equity interest in the property.

 

In some respects, the Hyatt reputation for consistency is misleading. It implies a sameness of design and treatment that doesn't turn out to be the case. In fact, in marked contrast to cookie‑cutter chains that promise the same familiar experience from one city to the next, no two Hyatt's are alike. That's not to say that operating standards vary. They don't. But each property is designed, built, and managed to be an integral busines5 and civic element in its particular location and for its specific clientele or market niche.

 

Since the original "atrium" hotel-the legendary John Portmann‑designed edifice in Atlanta with its twenty‑one‑story central core-debuted, the company has been considered the trendsetter in the upscale hotel market for its willingness to take chances on new configurations and innovate in service areas. Its hotels are visually exciting, run by independent managers given a good deal of authority by Hyatt's decentralized operating style. At the same time, Hyatt has been slow and selective in its growth, a quality‑conscious pace that has dampened the effects of an overbuilt industry's current room glut at the high end of the market.

 

Similarly, the segmentation that now characterizes the hotel industry has been part of Hyatt's management style for nearly two decades. But instead of building separate brand‑named properties for separate segments of the traveling public, Hyatt balances their different needs under the same roof.

 

For example, the traditional Hyatt-five hundred or more rooms in a large metropolitan area-gets high marks from both discriminating individual travelers and business group meeting and travel planners. That's because there are facilities for each, carefully arranged and physically separated so the individual's desire for privacy and personal treatment doesn't interfere with the group's need for large‑scale meeting rooms and entertainment. For the traveler seeking highly personal service and the ambience of a smaller property, Hyatt also offers the Regency Club: one or two floors set aside as a hotel‑within‑a‑hotel, with separate key access and concierges.

 

Within the industry, Hyatt receives high marks for making hotel food and beverage service profitable. Of course, it wouldn't be profitable if it weren't desirable to guests and people in the community who expect the best from the restaurants in a Hyatt property. Consequently, food quality is an important part of the company's service strategy. Some Hyatt's have as many as five different full‑service restaurants, and many also have a gourmet deli located just off the lobby. That shows up on the bottom line: Where the average full‑service hotel gets a little under a third of its Operating revenues from food and beverage services, 37 percent of Hyatt's revenues come from those sources.

 

Hyatt's service system expertise is visible in other parts of the hotel, too. The company was the first to provide in‑room amenities such as shampoo and sewing kits, to offer computerized guest check‑in at larger (convention‑scale) facilities, and has been a pacesetter in guest‑appreciated services ranging from fitness and security programs to express check‑out.

 

Achieving consistency in a decentralized service culture is also a matter of good design. Hyatt uses very few consultants. It also pushes training and management responsibilities out to regional and property managers. In fact, all corporate‑level functions, from management to marketing, are duplicated at the regional and hotel levels. The effect is much like providing identical shipments of flowers to a hundred talented gardeners: The actual plants will be the same in each garden, but each plot will display a unique flair.

 

For the future, Hyatt has committed itself to taking its big‑city style to both flashy, upscale resorts and smaller‑scale suburban hotel locations. It promises to be an interesting mix. The new Hyatt Regency Scottsdale showcases nearly $4 million worth of water wonderland: ten pools, twenty-eight fountains, forty‑seven waterfalls, and even a beach. Prototype suburban metro properties with two to three hundred rooms may have to forgo atriums and ballrooms to be competitive, but Hyatt executives promise the smaller size will not be accompanied by diminished service.

That, after all, wouldn't be consistent.

 

Hyatt Hotels Corporation

200 West Madison

Chicago, IL 60606

 

1990 Update: The Hyatt family continues to grow: eighty‑eight hotels and fourteen resorts now operate in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean; twenty‑nine hotels and nineteen resorts on the international side. The Regency Club brand name is no longer used on properties.‑To make sure everyone has a first‑hand knowledge of how the business really works, the company instituted "Hyatt In Touch Day" in 1989, closing Chicago headquarters so all 375 employees, from president Darryl Hartley-Leonard to the receptionists, could spend the day working on the frontlines in various Hyatt hotels. The practice is expected to become an annual event, in part as a response to an internal travel futures study that identified one of the biggest fears of business travelers in the '90s as "increasingly bad service from hotels, airlines, and car rental companies."

 

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MISSISSIPPI MANAGEMENT INC.

 

The sign out in front of the hotel in ALABAMA may look the same as the one back in Massachusetts, but all properties of the same brand name are not necessarily created or managed equal. Just like restaurant, car rental, broadcasting, and other seemingly monolithic service delivery companies, many national and regional hotel corporations sell franchises to independent operators as a cost‑effective way to expand their systems. Some, in fact, actually operate very few of the properties that bear their names. Consequently, while the overall design and quality standards may be the same coast to coast, there will be significant differences in day‑today operations that reflect, at least in part, different service priorities among on‑site managers and frontline workers.

 

Thus, Holiday Corporation will point with just)fiable pride to various examples of good service management among its company‑owned Holiday Inn properties.

 

It also will point to some of its franchisees as equally noteworthy providers of top‑quality service. ln that context, the name Mississippi Management is sure to come up. The thirty‑year‑old Jacksonbased company owns and operates nine well‑above‑average Holiday Inns in five states around the south, plus an Embassy Suites, a Ramada Inn, a Seasons Resort, and five Cabot Lodges-the last its own growing entry into the mid‑level hotel market.

 

Mississippi Management is especially noteworthy for the importance management attaches to maintaining good service standards at the frontline, and the relatively high level of investment it routinely makes in programs to ensure and enhance the treatment it gives its guests. For example, in the name of service quality it has held an internal, company‑wide Olympics-with such events as drink‑mixing, egg‑cracking, table‑clearing, key‑sorting, and sheet‑and towel‑folding, not to mention the grueling housekeeping cart relay. Each year, month by month, there are constant smaller‑scale competitions within and among its properties, with rewards to the best reservations centers, the top front desks, the outstanding kitchens.

 

No phase of the operation of a modern hotel is overlooked. Mississippi Management sends housekeepers to annual seminars and polls front‑desk clerks for ways to improve check‑in procedures and incorporate guest feedback into room furnishings. Every week it rewards the cooks at each property who come the closest to cutting the prime rib portions the right size with a ten‑dollar bonus; there's a similar bonus for the buffet carver who comes closest to the average serving size. Housekeepers who qualify for an incentive plan can boost their hourly pay by making more beds than a property's productivity standard-provided they continue to pass quality inspections. Food and beverage managers can increase their pay by as much as 50 percent through performance bonuses.

 

As people stay with the company, their experience is channeled into an internal management training program, through which Mississippi Management "grows" its own general managers. The program takes six to eight months and includes extensive on‑the‑job training in every department from reservations and the front desk to maintenance and food service. An occasional department manager may be hired in from the outside, but most mid‑ and top‑level managers have and continue to come up through the ranks.

 

One prize graduate is Cindy O'Cain, general manager of the Cabot Lodge in Nashville that she opened for Mississippi Management in 1987. O'Cain is also a graduate of the school of hotel and restaurant administration at Florida State University, but her experience with Mississippi Management predates her academic work. She started in the "hotel business" right out of high school (class of 1978) as a waitress in the company's Holiday Inn in Lake City,

 

Florida, and worked her way up inside a succession of the company's properties while working her way through first a junior college, and later Florida State. When she picked up her degree, she had a pretty good idea who she wanted to work for-and Mississippi Management lost no time in finding a place for her.

 

Many hotel management companies are unwilling to make such investments, whether at the frontline or in supervision and management, even if they are able. The hospitality industry, they will note by way of explanation' is characterized by turnover rates as high as 300 percent annually' especially in low‑status, low‑pay jobs (a catalog that ranges from the maids in the housekeeping department to the night clerks on the front desk). Just bringing new employees up to speed is a sometimes daunting task.

 

With turnover among its fourteen hundred employees averaging less than a third of that industry norm, on the other hand, Mississippi Management maintains that its long‑standing practice of investing heavily in training, motivation, and incentive programs at even the lowest levels of the company encourages Rood treatment of guests an builds loyalty and longevity among employees, no matter how low they stand on the organizational totem pole. That's why Mississippi Management bestows every thing from cash awards for annual anniversaries to a trip anywhere in united States after fifteen years (twenty‑year veterans earn a Caribbean cruise for two) on everyone from property managers to maids.

 

To further encourage loyalty and stability among its hourly workers, Mississippi Management also has introduced a cafeteria‑style benefits plan, and it plans to add to it over the next few years as opportunities present themselves. Child care is already included; a two‑tier medical plan designed with an eye toward dual‑earner families where the other spouse already has coverage is on the way.

 

The reason: In a job market where the supply of entry‑level workers is dwindling, the company believes it will increasingly be competing for people not just against other hotel operations, but against the full spectrum of manufacturing and service businesses. Earle Jones, Mississippi Management's president considers the pay, the programs, the promotions, and the perks as investments in the company's very future.

 

The return on investment isn't always easy to measure, but there are ways to make it visible-and the customer clearly is a beneficiary. Statistically, or example, about 4 percent of Holiday Inns' guest comment cards turn up a complaint from a traveler dissatisfied with his or her stay. The Holiday Inns run by Mississippi Management consistently receive 25 percent fewer complaints than the national average for the chain. What's more, a similar comment‑card feedback system at its own Cabot Lodges has turned up a continuing average of just one complaint per one hundred arcs returned since that mini‑chain debuted in 1985.

 

The hotel industry undoubtedly will continue to evolve tightly targeted pricing and property‑design strategies, but the names travelers will remember will be the ones where they received the treatment they expected and desired. For Mississippi Management, the challenge is to make sure that the two Holiday Inns in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the new Cabot Lodge m Nashville, and the other properties it operates under its own and other names continue to show up on those lists of personal favorites.

 

Mississippi Management, Inc

P.O. Box 16807

Jackson, MS 39236

 

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