Industry Update
Opinion Article17 October 2019

Why Focus On Engagement?

By Prince A. Sanders, General Manager at Trump International Hotel & Tower

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I'd like you to take a minute to think about a time someone engaged with you while you were out shopping. Have you ever purchased a product or completed a transaction you were unsure about? What turned your "maybe" into a "yes"? Chances are, it was because someone worked to build a relationship and engage you.

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As someone who works in the hospitality industry, your goal shouldn't be to simply satisfy the customer. Almost anyone can do that. A satisfied customer may or may not return to your business. After all, there are plenty of organizations that can provide a satisfactory experience. What makes the real difference is engagement—the step beyond mere satisfaction. By developing a personal, memorable connection we can encourage people to return to our organizations over and over again.

New Standards of Service

Today, many hospitality groups have woken up and realized that they need to be doing more to go above and beyond ensuring customer satisfaction. As a result, customers now expect satisfaction as the bare minimum. They don't just want to be satisfied, but they want to form an emotional bond with the business they support. This has created a new standard across the industry. Part of working in hospitality is always trying to surpass the standard, meaning that focusing on engagement will be pivotal. Otherwise, businesses risk being left behind in the dust.

Personal Conversations are the Key to Lasting Bonds

How does it feel when the server at your favorite restaurant remembers your go-to order? Pretty good, right? I would bet you feel valued as a customer and connected to the people who work there. That's because we appreciate when people take the time and effort to get to know us and our preferences. These relationships are built through conversations and personal connection.

For example, in my old neighborhood, college students frequently went door-to-door to sell magazine subscriptions. Now, normally, I was quite good at saying no—I didn't have time to read any more magazines. Occasionally, however, one of these salesmen would go above and beyond to talk to me, to connect with me. They left their canned sales speech behind, and focused on building a relationship. That's all it would take for me to justify a seventh magazine subscription.

Increased Profits

Engagement doesn't only give you a better relationship with your guests. It also helps convert those relationships into strong numbers for your business. Did you know that, on average, a highly-satisfied customer's average lifetime with an organization exceeds ten years? Businesses that provide above-and-beyond service are also able to adjust their prices to match their superiority. They can charge more, attain a higher profit, and increase their market share. In the end, they can use their incredible customer service as a selling point.

We need to move past satisfying our customers and set our sights on engaging them. It's easier than you may believe—just remember the experiences you've had that have set a company apart, how they made you feel, and why you continue to go back to their products or services. This engagement is the secret to creating lasting relationships, increasing the number of lifetime customers, and increasing profits.

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Prince A. Sanders

Prince A. Sanders is the General Manager for Trump Hotel & International Tower New York. He is the recipient of the 2010 Leader of the Year Award for his work at The Ritz Carlton, and has hands-on experience with the Edition Hotel brand - Marriott's lifestyle brand, which led him across the world to open three properties in Hawaii, Istanbul, and London.

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