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Importance of guest feedback in increasing hotel sales IHM-A

INSTITUTE OF HOTEL MANAGEMENT,


AURANGABAD

IMPORTANCE OF GUEST FEEDBACK IN INCREASING HOTEL SALES

Submitted to: Submitted by:


Mr. Hemant Gokhale Farhan Zaidi (H-15033)

“Submitted in Fulfillment of the Requirement for BA (Hons.) in Hotel


Management”

THE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD,


UNITED KINGDOM

April 2010

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DISCLAIMER

This information is no way to be constructed as recommendation by the Institute of Hotel


Management, Aurangabad, of any industry standards or as a recommendation of any kind to
be adapted by or binding upon any member of the hospitality industry

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DECLARATION

I hereby declare that this document is the result of my own collective effort and that it
conforms to University, departmental and course regulations regarding cheating and
plagiarism. No material contained within this project has been used in any other submission,
by the author, for an academic award.

Student’s Name: Date:

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the following people who have provided me
with their invaluable support throughout this endeavour:

 Mr Tarun Thakral, Chief Operating Officer Le Meridien New Delhi


 Ms Meena Bhatia, Vice President Le Meridien, New Delhi
 Mr Jeetendra Chopra Diector Business Development, Le Meridien New Delhi
 Mr Devendra Sissodia Director Food and Beverage Le Meridien New Delhi
 Ms Rabab Fatima Khan Sales Manager Le Meridien New Delhi

I would specially like to acknowledge Chef Hemant Gokhale and Mrs. Tanushree Sinha for
giving me the opportunity to undergo this understudy module and also for the compilation of
this project.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

SR. NO. TOPIC PAGE NO.


1. DISCLAIMER 1
2. DECLARATION 2
3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 3
4. TABLE OF CONTENTS 4
5. SYNOPSIS 5
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 6
1.1 Introduction to Le Meridien, New Delhi 6
CHAPTER 2 NATURE OF THE ISSUE 9
2.1 THE ISSUE 9
2.2 STATEMENT OF AIM 9
2.3 STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVES 9
2.4 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH 9
2.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH 10
CHAPTER 3 ANTECEDANTS 11
3.1 INTRODUCTION 11
3.2 MOTIVATION 13
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 15
4.1 DATA COLLECTION 16
CHAPTER 5 DATA ANALYSIS 17
5.1 DISCUSSION 18
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 19
7 BIBLIOGRAPHY 20

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SYNOPSIS
This study has been undertaken in order to suggest measures to improve hotel sales with the
help of guest feedback and guest feedback systems at Le Meridien New Delhi.

During the course of this study, the researcher has introduced Le Meriden New Delhi, briefed
the readers about the importance of guest feedback and the vital role it plays. The researcher
has gathered information from various sources, such as the management of the hotel and most
importantly taken down guest’s feedback.

The researcher has then highlighted the importance of guest feedback and how guest
feedback systems can be used to enhance hotel sales.

The researcher has also introduced some entirely new concepts of guest feedback systems.

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1 INTRODUCTION TO LE MERIDIEN, NEW DELHI

Le Meridien New Delhi is conveniently located in the centre of the city, within a two-
kilometer radius of major central government offices, Parliament House, the Presidential
Palace, Rashtrapati Bhawan and the bustling commercial and shopping district of Connaught
Place. The hotel offers very good leisure facilities, high standards of comfort and excellent
food and beverage outlets.

Guest Rooms
Le Méridien offers a truly unique experience in every one of its stylish guest rooms and
suites. Warm earth tones in addition to the luxurious sitting and work areas create an inviting
ambiance for one to experience and enjoy.
 Full-Length Mirror
 Hairdryer
 Satellite Channels
 Air-Conditioned Room
 Wake-up Service
 Bathrobes & Slippers
 Television
 Suites Available
 Refrigerator
 Sprinklers In Room
 Turndown Service
 In-Room Movies
 Smoke Detectors in Room
 Mini Bar
 Data Port
 Coffee and Tea Maker
 Fax Machine
 Cribs
 24-Hour In-Room Dining
 Club Level Room Available
 Connecting Rooms Available
 International Direct Dialing
 High Speed Internet Access (INR 600 per day)
 Free Newspaper
 Non-Smoking Room
 Fruit Basket
 In-Room Safe
 Voicemail

Features & Activities


Le Meridien New Delhi’s spa, Amatrra, is a unique concept facility that combines the time-
tested ancient Indian science of Ayurveda and Astroscience (“Astroveda”) with global 21st-
century technology and equipment to create, harmonise, and balance individual energy in a
spa experience.

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Amatrra offers a completely unique, prescriptive approach of spa regimens and therapies. The
ultimate goal is to provide preventive and curative methods of healing and welfare through
diagnosis by our expert panel, including an Astroscience expert gifted in body element
analysis, Ayurveda expert, fitness training expert, and yoga expert.
Facilities include two Ayurveda Therapy Rooms, three International Therapy Rooms, one
Chakra Therapy room with Vichy Shower, one International Therapy Suite for couples, a
private Meditation Room, Lifestyle Room for consultation, and split wet areas for men and
women with steam room and Jacuzzi. The spa also incorporates a gymnasium and outdoor
swimming pool.

Hotel Services
 Health Club
 Express Check-In
 Express Check-Out
 High Speed Internet Access in Business Center (Charge)
 Currency Exchange
 Secretarial Service
 Laundry Service
 Safe Deposit Boxes
 Medical Services Available
 Spa Services
 Airport Check-In
 Elevators
 Multilingual Staff
 Disability Accessible Facilities
 Babysitting Service
 Airport Transportation (Charge)
 24-Hour Concierge Service
 Beauty Salon
 24-Hour Front Desk
 Barber Shop
 Car Rental Desk
 Florist
 Gift Shop
 News Stand
 Business Center
 Travel Desk
 Valet Parking Facilities
 Outdoor Pool
 Jacuzzi

Dining

Le Méridien New Delhi’s restaurants offer an n array of fine Indian, Chinese and continental
cuisine.

NERO: cocktails and snacks

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THE ONE: International cuisine coffee shop


MONSOON: Contemporary Indian cuisine
LE BELVERDARE: Chinese cuisine with Cantonese and Szechuan influences.
HENRI’S BAR: Cocktails and snacks
CAFÉ CHOCOL ART: Desserts, deli

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CHAPTER 2: NATURE OF THE ISSUE

2.1THE ISSUE

Guest Feedback
In a democracy elections give a citizen the facility to provide feedback to politicians. In
schools students obtain grades on their academic performance. And in most companies,
employees are given some type of performance review.
How does one measure the success of a hotel? Initially one has to remember why feedback is
important.
Guest feedback tells you:
 What you’re doing right
 What you’re doing wrong
 How you can improve
 Opportunities to draw more business and improve your reputation

(Customer Feedback in Hospitality: Listening To Your Guests Using The Web by JOSIAH
MACKENZIE on NOVEMBER 8, 2008)

2.2 STATEMENT OF AIM:

To enhance hotel sales with the help of guest feedback and guest feedback systems.

2.3 OBJECTIVES:

 To study the importance of guest feedback and guest feedback methods in enhancing
sales growth of the hotel.
.
 To observe the change in sales growth when positive guest feedback is provided.

 Determining the impact of negative feedback on hotel sales.

2.4 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH:


The scope of this research is to first and foremost understand operations and the operational
procedures and situations specific to the hotel – Le Meridien, New Delhi. After gaining an
understanding of the situation in practicality, the researcher will attempt to find opportunities
for improvement within the Sales and Marketing department.

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2.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH:


 The research has been carried out during a very short period of time thus the
researcher had limited exposure, and the intensity of the research is narrowed.
 All the suggested recommendations, an outcome of this research have not been
implemented in the unit due to various reasons.
 This research has not taken into consideration any laws, be it local, national or
international relating to any aspect of the hotel.
 This research has been unable to map the actual performance of the hotel after the
implementation of the recommendations.

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CHAPTER 3: ANTECEDANTS
3.1 INTRODUCTION
“Guest feedback is a barometer of consumer satisfaction.”
(Kate Leahy)
Guest satisfaction surveys at hotels have evolved from report cards into tools that owners and
managers can utilize to adjust their business strategies for increased profitability. But in order
to gain the most from these programs, hoteliers must consider what kind of information will
be most valuable to them and how to use it. As hoteliers begin to realize the benefits of these
tools, new and more in-depth, customized programs are being set up around the globe to
assess service, product and overall guest experiences in each hotel setting. Analysing data at
the property level is the key to meeting customer expectations and loyalty. According to
Mark Heymann, chairman and c.e.o., Carrollton, Texas-based UniFocus, a performance-
management company in the hospitality, gaming and service industries, hoteliers must ensure
that key measures are aligned with the hotels mission statement.

"By doing this, hotel owners can say tactically, 'This is what we want to know that affects the
root of our business and how we will measure it,' Heymann said.”It makes it real for them
and supports their business philosophy."

"What is important to a guest changes, so it is important that hotel owners keep this in mind
and adjust their surveys accordingly to ensure that they are really tapping into how a guest
rates the experience," Heymann said. For example, asking if the in room coffee was good
when the guest didn't sleep well because of the bedding package will not reap solid feedback.

"Understanding your own goals and developing a survey that speaks to them should be at the
heart of any good program," said Jonathan Barsky, co-founder, San Rafael, Calif.-based
Market Metrix. Hotel owners should prioritize their goals in conjunction with their survey
provider, asses how they can determine it those goals are being accomplished and look for
opportunities to improve their business in their immediate competitive market. Loyalty,
product, service, pricing and demographics comprise the heart of a hotels competing elements
and should be included in any guest survey. However, things like how quick check-in was for
a guest or how nice a guestroom smelled are things that also should be considered, according
to Barsky. "Guest loyalty is usually tied to emotions and these things are a better predictor
than just products and services," Barsky said.

A "good" survey question does one of two things: It indicates the probability that a guest will
return or it helps you find out what happened for the duration of the guest experience that led
the customer to his or her overall perception, said Mike Paton, senior Vice President, Sales.
Signature Worldwide, a customer service training organization.

Once a hotel gets information from its guests regarding these elements of their business, it is
crucial that they act on both negative and positive responses, experts said. Real-time
reporting makes this easier, particularly in correcting negative guest experiences, which
ultimately can translate into strong customer loyalty. Correcting a problem in a timely fashion
can go a long way—getting the attention guests feel they deserve can build a bond that might
even be stronger than if they just had a neutral or positive experience, Heymann said "Guest
recovery is a big part of building loyalty, which is at the heart of these surveys," . "You just
have to save a few customers per month and the program pays for itself." Managing guest

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dialogue through these systems is a big benefit, according to Elizabeth Carducci, V.P. of
business development for Medallia, a feedback solutions company based in Menlo Park, Calif
"Hotels can act on the information provided the very next day," she said. "With the systems
being real-time, managers can look at the low-hanging fruit and take care of it immediately."

(Shannon McMullen, Contributing editor hotelmotel.com)

Essential elements for a successful guest feedback program

• Timeliness of the information

• Accurate sample size

• Commitment of the executive team to utilize the information

• Communication of results to the staff

• Connection to mission statement

Source: Market Metrix, Medaltia, Signature Worldwide. UniFocus

CASE STUDY: The Taco Test

At Curry Village, a Delaware North managed property in California's Yosemite National


Park, the general manager of an underperforming taco stand wanted to change the concept
into a burger stand. Management decided to build in questions about the stand in their
customer satisfaction surveys just to be sure that burgers were the right direction in which to
head. The surveys indicated that guests didn't really want a burger stand; instead, they wanted
better tacos. "The message was clear," says Stewart Collins, corporate director of Guest Path,
the guest-services division of Delaware North. "Improve your tacos and operate better."

WHY CUSTOMER FEEDBACK IS CRUCIAL TO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, it's widely accepted that relying on guests
to complete surveys is common practice in the hotel and restaurant industry – but what about
all that unstructured feedback as well - in other words, all those verbal comments that go un-
captured everyday? Harness the 'true' voice of the customer and it can really pay off.

Research shows that over 90% of customer feedback is never actually captured which is why
many successful enterprise organisations invest in systems and processes to ensure that they
capture as much as they can. They know that putting customer feedback at the forefront of
their business will help them make informed decisions to constantly improve their
performance.

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However, one does not need to have a big business or even a customer service professional to
benefit too. One organisation that has seen some impressive benefits from adopting an
enterprise approach to managing guest feedback is the award winning Felbridge Spa Hotel in
East Sussex.

Matthew Drinkwater, who is the operations manager at the Felbridge, is a huge believer in
capturing and using customer feedback.

"Capturing customer feedback is critical for any business and provides us with actionable
business intelligence that allows us to constantly improve the guest experience and the
quality of our facilities including the spa and restaurant."

Drinkwater implemented an on-line service called managemycomplaints.com that made it


easy for all staff to quickly and simply capture guest feedback at every opportunity and in
every department.

But unlike the name suggests, it's not about managing complaints, it's about managing all
customer feedback – good and bad.

Since using the service Drinkwater has been able to identify areas in the business that they
are doing well and areas they need to improve which has led to increased customer
satisfaction, more customer recommendations and reducing waste and inefficiency in the
catering departments.

He adds: "It's a great benefit to the business and helps us maintain our customer focused
approach to our business."

(eatout magazine.co.uk, 15th March 2010)

3.2 MOTIVATION
The researcher was motivated to carry out this study because of various reasons. Foremost of
them was that the feedback given by guests during sales calls was not taken into
consideration for improvement most of the times.
The Sales department which has ample interaction with the guest, company or agent should
always make sure that guest feedback is taken which will help to increase the hotel sales even
more.
Most of the negative feedback received by the researcher was of the reservations department.
Guests felt that replies to their queries and conformations were not sent quickly enough.
Because of this many reservations were cancelled but as the hotel had such a strong client
base action was not taken to correct these issues.

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CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY


As defined by Sekaran (1992), “research is an organized, systematic, data – based,
critical, scientific inquiry or investigation into a specific problem, with finding a
solution to it being the reason for its undertaking.”
The first step in the research is to identify the areas of concern in the organization. Once the
problem, and the factors that are associated with the problem are clearly defined, then steps
can be taken to gather information, and relevant data which is further analyzed so as to
suggest the possible ways through which the issue of concern can be rectified. The
framework followed by the researcher involves the following steps:-

 Identifying the areas of concern


 Establishing the aims and objectives of the research
 Secondary Research
 Gathering relevant data through research tools
 Data Analysis and Recommendations

There are two purposes for which research can be undertaken. The first being to solve a
currently existing problem within a work place, and the second being to educate oneself on a
particular problem and make ones contribution to the general body of knowledge in that area
without the intention of applying the results found to solving any specific organizational
problems. The first type of research is called Applied Research, while the second is called
Pure Research.

“When research is being done chiefly to improve our understanding of certain problems
that commonly occur in organizational settings and how to solve them, the research is
called basic or fundamental research. This is also known as pure research.” – Sekaran
(1992).
“When research is done with the intention of applying the results of its findings to solve
specific problems currently being experienced in the organization, it is called applied
research.” - Sekaran (1992)

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4.1 DATA COLLECTION


“Observation is the first stage, in which one senses that certain changes are occurring,
or that some new behaviours, attitudes, & feelings are vaguely surfacing in ones
environment.” – Sekaran (1992).

For the purpose of this research the author has gathered his data by observation and by direct
questions asked from the guests using the hotel.
The researcher has taken feedback from guests from varying fields.

“Very good staff, brand new room and facilities, wonderful bar at the top level, good
restaurants, very nice lobby, as well as the gym”. Jatin Anand (Hindustan Times) 22.11.09

The rooms were huge and so plush and the attention to detail was second to none.” Alou Nasri

for FHR Travels (11.01.10)

“The staff was absolutely unhelpful.” Tripadvisor (14.12.09)

“The front desk staff were slow to serve on the way in, and looking for extras to add to the
bill on the way out”. ( S.A.R Zaidi Circle Head Punjab National Bank) (22.10.09)

“The check-in staff were arrogant and rude and in fact so were the majority of the staff in the
hotel including a lady duty manager who is rude and unhelpful”. Walter Van Persie, Tourist
(05.11.09)

“Reservation staff was slow to reply to mails and therefore I had to book a room in another
hotel” Rahul Verma, Honda (13.01.10)

“Restaurant staff are slow and ineffective - they forget orders, are slow to deliver food/drinks
and seem disinterested in being there”. Lakshay Madaan, Businessman (17.01.10)

The room was excellent and the club facilities with my room were very convenient.
Surbhi Gupta, Tourist (19.12.09)

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CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION
The objective of this chapter is to analyze the data obtained by taking guest feedback from a
wide range of guests. From first time guests to loyal ones and from FITs to groups.

Data Analysis is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modelling data with the
goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision
making. Data analysis has multiple facets and approaches, encompassing diverse techniques
under a variety of names, in different business, science, and social science domains.

Inference from guest comments

Guest Satisfaction

40
Satisfied Guests
Dissatisfied Guests
60

Fig 1.0

From Fig 1.0 the researcher derives the information that 60% of the guests were satisfied with
the service that they received and 40% of the guests were not satisfied with the service they
received.

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5.1 DISCUSSION
The researcher found this only because guest feedback was taken.
In a city like New Delhi there is such a high percentage of occupancy throughout all 5 star
rated hotels that negative feedback is not going to create a huge dent for that particular hotel.

But in today’s cutthroat competition hotels can edge ahead only by paying attention to detail
and correcting problems.
These problems come to light when guest feedback is taken and if they are improved upon
they can add to the overall growth of the hotel.

“Guest feedback not only leads to simple operational fixes, it also tells you more about who
your customers really are.” Kate Leahy, Associate Editor, R & I Business

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CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Over the past several years Market Metrix has tracked the rising popularity of user generated
reviews. These results track the considerable and growing number of hotel guests (business,
leisure and group) that are checking consumer reviews before booking and then sharing their
experiences online. This increase in user generated content means that conventional,
controlled messages through TV, magazine, and direct mail now have to compete with the
trusted words of fellow consumers. Research indicates that individuals are more disposed to
believe other guests than more formal forms of promotion methods.

(August 27, 2009 Hospitality Industry magazine)

But are hotels acknowledging this game-changing shift in communication? Are they
attempting to regain control by participating in the dialogue, responding to negative reviews
and taking action to drive improvement in the guest experience? Are they finding new insight
and opportunity from their own and competitor reviews?

A recent survey conducted by Market Metrix and TripAdvisor focused on these questions.
How are hotels perceiving and responding to the growing importance of user reviews?
Are they embracing or ignoring this significant new trend?

The sample included hotels registered on TripAdvisor as well as a mix of hotels from all
industry segments. The consensus among these hotel managers is that review sites, such as
TripAdvisor, are important to hotels. An impressive 90% of hotel managers think reviews are
very important and nearly as many (81%) visit review sites at least weekly. Although some
managers expressed concern about the authenticity of reviews, many described their
dependence on these sites (e.g., “As a limited service hotel we get a lot of travelers who rely
on those surveys.”)

Among all review sites, hotel managers believe that TripAdvisor has the biggest influence on
their guests. After Trip Advisor, Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity (in that order) were
also mentioned by hoteliers as important to their guests and how they make booking
decisions.

Most hotel managers (70%) are familiar with TripAdvisor’s POPULARITY INDEX, which
ranks the top hotels in a city. This helpful metric is used by many consumers to quickly
narrow their hotel search. 90% of hotel managers believe that the POPULARITY INDEX is
important to their hotel and follow their ranking regularly. Nearly half of hotels (46%) have
seen their POPULARITY INDEX increase, slightly less (42%) report no change and 12%
have seen their rank decline. Most hotels believe a change in their rank was likely due to a
change in their service, rather than due to changes in their product, price, or other variables.

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Hoteliers clearly recognize the impact that user reviews have on their business. But in
startling contrast, only 15% of hotels have policies or guidelines for how to manage user-
generated reviews. A whopping 85% of hotels have NO guidelines for monitoring,
responding or acting on guest reviews.

Hotels do not recognize the impact of guest feedback. If guest feedback is taken regularly and
negative feedback is acted upon then hotels can go a long way in increasing their revenue and
creating a good name for themselves in the market.

6.1 RECOMMENDATIONS

The researcher’s first and foremost recommendation to the hotel was to take feedback from as
many guests as possible

Secondly to act upon the negative feedback received from the guests.

The researcher also suggested some new methods to take guest feedback. The hotel did not
have a separate guest comments zone on the website but had one only on the main Starwood
network. The researcher suggested the hotel to have a guest comments zone Le Meridien
New Delhi’s individual site and it had a positive response in the following months after
implementation.

The very reason hotels exist is to provide service to people. Fulfilling a need, whether it is a
room for the night, or a meal, or an activity, a hotel is there to serve people. It is important to
understand the nature of the hotel customer. The guest at any hotel can be from any walk of
life. By understanding who these guests are, and what their characteristics are, a hotel can
better serve them. This can be done by taking feedback from the guest through various
means. This will in turn add to the sales growth of the hotel

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
WEBSITES:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospitality industry
 http://education.in.msn.com/careers/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1165546
 http://hotelmotel.com
 http://eatoutmagazine.co.uk
 http://wego.com

ARTICLES
 Bowen J. and Chen S., (2001), “The relationship between customer loyalty and
customer satisfaction”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality
Management, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp.213-217
 Leahy K., (2009), “5 ways to manage customer feedback”, Restaurants and
Institutions
 Mccullen S., (2006), “Targeted feedback, analysis keeps hoteliers on track”,
Hotelmotel.com
 Leahy K., “Turning the tables”, Restaurants and Institutions

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