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As a Leader, How do you handle Guest Service Training?

By Ashley

Yesterday I talked about my experience with Hilton Grand Vacations in Orlando, Florida, and how my husband and I were blown away by the personal attention to details and the outstanding customer service that every single employee exhibited.  Every employee smiled, waved, and asked how our stay was.  They all had a name tag and said if we needed anything to let them know.  Security would greet us by name upon entering back on campus every evening.  The front desk would never let you wait more than a couple minutes in line, before calling for more attendants or managers even jumping behind the desk to get you what you needed.

This friendly and personal attention made my stay with them extraordinary! I even mentioned in yesterday's blog that I felt like royalty.  Unfortunately, sometimes even great customer skills can become relaxed, and fade into the background.  Employees working directly with guests can sometimes make a guest feel guilty about their requests, or even make them feel stupid for asking common or obvious questions.  Some team members can lose their smile and the "eager to serve" attitude if they're having a bad day and too tired to go above and beyond.  In my experience at the Hilton Grand Vacations, this was never the case.  Clearly their success lies with leadership understanding the importance of great customer service, and that core value being trained and modeled into the entire team.

At Lake Williamson and all of the Christian Retreats Network properties, our leadership and all employees put our guests first.  At Lake Williamson we specifically train our employees in our 5:13 program (based from Galatians 5:13 to serve on another in love) and promote to our guests that we offer a host property and service that will exceed their expectations.  Yes, we've set the bar high but we know that we have the leadership and team to accomplish this, and in the end, our guests will feel welcomed and loved because of it.

Steve Evans, Lake Williamson's director, talked about the importance of hospitality in the Christian conference ministry in a blog series a few months ago.  The specific points were:

  1. Hospitality (Guest Service) is Biblical
  2. Hospitality (Guest Service) is Powerful
  3. Hospitality (Guest Service) is Good Business
  4. Hospitality (Guest Service) is vital to the Customer Care Cycle
  5. Hospitality (Guest Service) is not easily achieved
  6. Hospitality (Guest Service) is not easily preserved
  7. Hospitality (Guest Service) is not easy to measure (internally)

Topic #4, the Customer Care Cycle, talks about three points where customers fall off the cycle.  The third fall-off point is failure to rebook, and at this point fall off is usually due to dissatisfaction with the event, which is almost always blamed on guest service.  It is during this onsite experience that the property will be given many opportunities for their "moment of truth" to show great guest service. It is hard to emphasize enough how important it is that every interaction with the guest be "over the top" with warmth, care, and helpful service.

Topic #5 talks about instilling guest service within your employees and how that is not easily achieved.  You must identify what will motivate your people to perform the desired behaviors you're looking for.  You must overcome the hurdle of getting a critical mass of employees to see that this guest service culture is good for them as well as the ministry.

Below all of the articles are referenced.   Great guest service in our industry is essential; so how does your business and its leadership handle the topic?

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626