I have my Exit Survey Results…now what?
The Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals
By Richard B. Evans, President of Revenue Report Card LLC & Author of “the Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals”
What you see above is the exact exit survey used. It was simple, limited in scope and guests filled them out when presented at check-out at the front desk. I'll share the exact sequence of that presentation. It is why we received such high feed back.
NOTE: Times, of course have changed and so too has exit surveying. The surveys today are emailed and more elaborate. They are sent after the guest leaves, and my understanding is that an average return is about 32%. It, however uncovered so many more aspects of guests' experiences, staff performance and an overall outlook of properties then what I was getting. Which is better? For detail, clearly today's model.
I had the opportunity to recently discuss exit surveying with Kyle Buchner, the CEO of Navis (the Navis Way) who have taken exit surveying to the next level. They send 2 surveys, one while the guest is still in house (or mid-stay), and the extended version after check out. It allows management to quickly respond to in-house guest needs.
Before I make this presentation, let me reiterate the theme:
I have my Exit Survey Results…now what?
In 1985 when a guest came to the desk to check-out the agent would say, "Mr. Smith, while I prepare your folio, would you take a moment to fill out this brief survey? It will help us improve." The agent would turn away and the guest would be left with the survey, an envelope and pen. The envelope would be sealed and dropped in a lock box. Again, 63% responded.
TIP: A big part of collecting such a high number of surveys was in allowing the guest ample space and privacy while the folio was being prepared.
TIP: In Vacation Rentals, during the check-out visit, the guest is asked if he/she would fill out a survey during the final walk through by the VR agent. This is also highly affective.
Results should always be tallied within 2 days and the "Waldorf Plan" was put into play
Each week a Task Force chaired by a senior manager and eight hourly staff members (hourly staff changed every month) met. Each would be provided with the tallied results and all guest comments. A real life example, without comments, is shown below.
Since surveys then were tallied by an assistant administrator on excel, he/she would immediately create a requisition for housekeeping or maintenance regarding reported problems.
NOTE: A dripping faucet irritating a guest at night might not have been uncovered for weeks. Now it could be identified and dealt with immediately.
NOTE: Exit Surveys today are tallied digitally with a quicker turnaround time.
The "task force" reviewed the feedback received:
- Exceeded Expectations
- Met Expectations
- Fell Short of Expectations
The questions on the survey received the following scores on "Met and Exceeded Expectation" above:
- Hotel Overall 85.4%
- Check-in Experience 97.8%
- Comfort of Bedding 86.1%
- Quality of Housekeeping 89.8%
- Restaurant 82.6%
These results were also posted in each department each week
Hourly staff inevitably would go back to their peers and discuss results. As weeks went by staff would excitedly gather around the bulletin board to check the "scores" and discuss them. Guess what? Results improved. As scores rose the staff would congratulate one another. Recognition and reward became an important part of property improvement.
TIP: We would present the most recognized staff members with a $100 check at the properties monthly luncheon.
Would you consider staying with us again? A valuable question. The 90.6% affirmative response above meant that these guests were immediately placed on the email list. With all we spend in bringing guests to our properties, the Repeat Guest revenue channel, with an average channel cost of 3%, has the majority of revenue earned going directly to the bottom line.
Staff recognition is also a powerful tool. It became a competition of sorts and everyone was proudly wearing their name tags!
TIP: In over 8 years we would see the same winners time after time. (The concierge was always a shoe in!) So we changed the reward system so that each department would recognize their leader.
The comment section is also extremely valuable. The question what did you enjoy the most was almost always the same. Most hotels I dealt with were oceanfront properties and the standard answer was "the beach", the ocean", "the beach", "the ocean"… So not much to be learned there most of the time.
The question, what did you enjoy least about your stay is very valuable. It would bring things that needed to be dealt with, to our immediate attention and that brought about a great deal of task force discussion, problem solving and ultimately resolution.
Example: Food arriving late or cold from room service, housekeepers speaking loudly in corridors before their shift, uncomfortable mattresses, requested towels never delivered and the like.
TIP: The Navis mid -stay survey uncovers issues as the guest is experiencing them and allows management to recognize, correct and make amends with guests; and in close to real time!
Each problem was solvable. The "task forces" duty is to discuss and find solutions and then to formally pass them on to the general manager. The GM would make an assessment of Page 5 recommendations and when appropriate, create Standard Operating Procedures to resolve issues.
Staff looked forward to the "task force' meetings and their involvement gave them a sense of pride and feeling of "ownership" in contributing to the company's success.
Finally, we would change the opening five questions on the survey periodically if conventions were in town, groups were in house or we wanted to test different areas our guests' stay and experience.
Exit surveying, is one of the most powerful tools I have every used in operating hotels and vacation rentals.
Thank you Waldorf Astoria!
The "Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals" can be purchased by contacting me at RichE1212@gmail.com. It will be available on Amazon.
Richard B Evans
President of Revenue Report Card LLC
Phone: (954) 290 - 3567