The hotel industry has in many ways been a laggard in areas ranging from adopting the latest technology to adapting to changed consumer preferences. So it is particularly heartening to hear of a number of other industries ranging from banks, hospitals, law firms to car dealerships that have use the industry as a peg for service standards. The Wall Street Journal has an article of how a car dealer in Carlsbad, CA distinguished his operation from others by taking ideas from the Four Seasons in his town. By offering valet parking, fresh flowers in the showroom and a marble floor in the bathroom along with bottled water and Hershey’s chocolate kisses in the cupholders for customers picking up their serviced vehicles, he appears to have found a new way to turn making a customer out of each sale.
While five star and delux hotels are sound operations to emulate for just about any industry, it may not be economically feasible for all. The needs of Lexus dealers are likely very different to those of a Hyundai or Chevy – operations who can hardly afford the “frills” found in high end hotels. However, these “lesser” segments can just as soundly look for inspiration in the hotel industry – in the limited servce sector. Apart from being highly attuned to customer needs on a prix fixe basis unlike the a la carte nature of high end hotels where there is a charge for just about any amenity, limited service hotels are equally geared to customer satisfaction as seen from the 100 per cent guest satisfacton program at virtually every major chain.
The JD Power survey done last year shows that things customers value most are a complimentary breakfast, in-room refrigerators and coffee makers, pillow top mattresses and high-speed Internet access. With the exception of pillow top mattresses all others are found in limited service hotels. That along with setting expectations that are met if not exceeded put the limited service category on par with many on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of customer satisfaction.