Restaurant operators strive to give each guest a flawless dining experience. But it’s even more important to do so in the social media era, when customers extract retribution for service fumbles by sharing their dissatisfaction online.
So how can your restaurant deliver five-star hospitality with consistency? Customer service guru Micah Solomon describes some of the most effective methods in The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets (Select Books, $22.95). Many examples come from the hotel industry, but there’s plenty of restaurant-specific material in this 224-page book as well.
Solomon summarizes the shared sentiment of his interviewees this way: “If we did it for our first guest, we’ll find a way to keep doing it for our millionth, without rushing or cutting corners, without doing anything that would make that guest feel any less than fully valued in our eyes,” he writes. “The hospitality greats...tell themselves there’s just one guest, the one they’re facing right now.”
Traditional hospitality strategies are presented from a “best practices” perspective. Solomon also gives the topic a contemporary spin, noting that technology changes the requirements of a positive hospitality experience.
“Customers of all ages now expect speedier service, in part because successful brands, both upstarts and established players, have shown that it’s possible to speed up service without sacrificing quality. This new norm creates a risk for any business that fails to keep up with the accelerated timetable customers demand.”
However, “ improving automated customer service is no excuse to offer lousy human-powered service. Instead, take the resources recouped through digitization and focus them on meaningful human interactions in the places where they count.”
Industry leaders who shared insights in The Heart of Hospitality include:
• Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group on hiring, onboarding, training and more.
• Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts Chairman Isadore Sharp on how to build an unsinkable company culture.
•Tom Colicchio (Craft Restaurants, Top Chef) on creating a customer-centric customer experience in a chef-centric restaurant.
• Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal on how the chain created its innovative, future-friendly hospitality approach.
• Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company president and COO Herve Humler: How to engage today's new breed of luxury travelers.
• Designer David Rockwell (W, Nobu, Andaz) sharing secrets of designing hotel and restaurant spaces that resonate with modern travelers.
• Restaurateur Traci Des Jardins on building a "narcissism-free" hospitality culture.
• Chef Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) on creating different experiences for different guests in the same dining room.