Tuesday, October 2, 2007

next steps in customer-service

In a USA Today story this morning, it's reported that Concierges go the extra mile in the Internet age:
  • High-end brands are upgrading concierge operations and training staffs to improve their neighborhood knowledge. And other brands are looking for better ways to share information with guests...
I think it's a great way for the consumer review popularity online to mix with a Let's Go/Lonely Planet DIY feel, moving the authenticity of these reviews to a brand experience.
  • Hotels must not only figure how to get local knowledge in the hands of employees and train them to deliver it, but also how to provide local knowledge that is relevant to guests' needs. (Marriott)
  • Guests are looking for whatever it is that makes Detroit Detroit. There's a desire to say, I caught a slice of that. - Michelle Lapierre, Marriott's senior director of customer relationship marketing. COOL!
This could be a push for updating the hiring process when looking for hotel employees. Hire the people who are passionate about their city and enhancing tourists' stays. See the sites! Get out: go to this restaurant, see this offroad place, etc.

Some of the more notable initiatives are:
  • Courtyard by Marriott later this year will roll out its first "Go Board," a flat panel HDTV with local information, including restaurant recommendations, for guests.
  • At Loews, the new "In The Know" program calls on concierges each week to come up with a list of local tips.
  • Marriott's extended-stay brand, TownePlace Suites, plans to put an 8 by 8 feet wide map marked with restaurants and local places of interest on the lobby walls of all 128 hotels.
  • Marriott (clearly the leader in this trend) will also give guests pocket guides and two-sided cards with local information.
  • Hyatt will launch a website that lets members chat with concierges and other travelers.
I'm not sure if recommendations will be tainted with marketing sway...but I'm hoping for a more "consumer review" / authentic approach to the information provided. It could be real easy for money hungry, less-educated advertisers to see this as a marketing jackpot calling their name. Let's hope it stays more honest and real. :)

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