I was reminded of this when I did just that this past week in New Orleans (that’s where PRSA’s Counselors Academy took place), and oh…
The bathroom! They had Q-tips (most hotels don’t)!
The comfy couches in the lounge!
The bellhop who got me a taxi ahead of 15 other people in line (he didn’t tell me this, the taxi driver did).
The server who, after seeing I was balancing my breakfast plate on my lap (I didn’t want him to set a table when I’d be leaving in five minutes), insisted on pulling up a chair so that I could eat more comfortably!
These are all great employees of the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, but perhaps the one who touched me the most was a Most Delightful Old Gentleman – perhaps on the Bell Desk? I don’t know.
But it was his job (I assume) to make guests feel welcome and basically help them into (and out of) the elevators.
And if you’ve been to the RCNO, you know that the elevators are pretty confusing, because there’s one bank for those going up to the rooms, one to go down to meeting levels and the street, and to top it all off, they arrive so quickly, that sometimes the doors open and close before you’ve even made it in, because you didn’t know which one had arrived on your level.
Aargh. But anyhoo.
MDOG was just so sweet. Any time he saw me (or anyone), he’d inquire most gallantly as to how we were.
Then, after figuring out whether we were going down or up, he’d escort us to that specific elevator, make sure we were safely planted inside, and then wish us, “Now you have a good day, Miss.”
I always replied, “Thanks so much, and you too.” To which response I received a beaming smile and “thank you!”
What really struck me about MDOG, as well as all the other wonderful staff of the RCNO, was how much pride they took in their jobs. If there are issues they face – and I imagine there are, it wouldn’t be human not to – they certainly didn’t display that to guests.
What terrific public relations ambassadors they are for the hotel.
I mean, think about it.
The RC’s named PR staff does a great job, I’m sure. The RC is a top-notch hotel chain, and I imagine they get terrific media placements, et al.
But they are not front facing. They are not the ones meeting, or dealing with, guests on a day-to-day basis. They are hidden genies, and I’m not joking when I say they are probably genies, because no one knows better than I do just how tough a job “PR” really is.
The people I encountered every day, though… they are front facing.
Their job titles might be “Bell Hop,” or “Concierge,” or “Valet,” or “MDOG,” but you know what they are doing, when they do well at their jobs?
They are engaging in actions that leave a better, or elevate an already good, impression of the Ritz Carlton brand on the hotel’s guests.
So guess which hotel I – as a guest aka consumer – will recommend to friends, or people who ask for recommendations, when it comes to hotels in New Orleans?
No, you don’t get a prize for guessing right. I set it up for you.
This is a small lesson, but it’s a huge lesson at the same time.
Employees may have specific job functions to perform, but how they perform those functions add value to – or detract from – your brand.
Think back to the interactions you’ve had with a brand over the last month. Did you meet the “PR people”?
But it is highly likely that you interacted with salespeople, customer service, in flight crew, train conductors, wait staff… the list goes on.
None of these people have “public relations” in their job description.
Every single one of these people performs a critical public relations function for their employer(s) – to give customers (consumers) the best possible experience of the brand, so that they come back for more.
Public relations. It’s everyone’s business these days.
And it is in knowing – and accepting – that it’s everyone’s business, that we as PR professionals can do what our discipline asks us to do… to build, and maintain, beneficial relationships with our publics for our brands, organizations, employers.
I’ve had my say; how about you?
Who was touching you the most? What hotel?
The Ritz for the most part does it right; I've had some 'wow' experiences, but had disappointments as well especially with the prices they were charging. However, the overall premise is a sound one and they do a very good job with customer service.
Does your new gig send you on trips?
@bdorman264 I'm not gonna tell. :p
You've been disappointed with the Ritz? Really? So far at least, I haven't, but I imagine every hotel has the potential to disappoint.
The two trips I went on most recently were booked before I started the new gig. So far at least, I haven't had to travel for it. I'm sure it will come in due course of time, but I'm not in any rush to jump on a plane or train!
This is a great post @ckburgess will love it because this goes for social media too. Your employees are your front line.
The problem most businesses have is simple: They view employees as costs so they don't have happy employees or well paid employees. The RCNO charges stupid money for a room (I mean your just sleeping! LOL just kidding) and to have this service have to ay everyone way above average wages. But the investment obviously was proven worth it,
You know, the room rates of hotels is something I go back and forth on. Obviously I'd like to pay as little as possible while getting a decent room... and if I get a really terrific room at a great price, I'm ecstatic. But I use the same logic when we go on vacation; really, all we're doing is sleeping in it (hopefully). But at the same time I'd like access to what we've come to consider as standard amenities (like free wifi... even today most hotels are not up to speed - ha! - on that) - with that rate. And a nice bathroom.
But I think it's more than just the room. It's the entire perception of the value of the brand. If we perceive a higher value to us, then we'll pay for it.
@HowieSPM - I invite everyone to read my new post "Brands Under Pressure: The Brand Lives in the Employees’ Voice" Sponsored by AT&T Networking Exchange. http://www.bluefocusmarketing.com/blog/2012/05/01/brands-under-pressure-the-brand-lives-in-the-employees-voice/ also posted on AT&T's Networking Exchange blog http://networkingexchangeblog.att.com/small-business/brands-under-pressure-the-brand-lives-in-the-employees-voice/
Thanks Howie for thinking about me :-)
This is so true in so many ways...I once (very briefly after leaving the Air Force) did a stint as a maintenance worker at a Holiday Inn in Hampton, VA.
These are the folks who unclog toilets, rearrange room settings, mow the grass, and a bazillion other "behind-the-scenes" tasks that keep the hotel functioning and guests satisfied.
This was 1977...and I STILL remember the words of my boss: "We represent Holiday Inn to everyone who sees us."
I have made it a point since that time to ensure that every level of worker within my organization (a) understands the full implications of his or her actions and...(b) receives recognition when recognition is due for going "above and beyond" expectations.
When I was with the Blood Bank of Hawaii, I liked to say that I had the largest department in the organization...all 100 employees, from Walter the Supply Room Manager to Julie the President, were/are a vital part of our public relations program.
And every single one of them agreed with me!
@KirkHazlett I love that saying, Kirk, that you had the largest department in the organization - that is so true! We need more organizations to understand that, don't we?