🍍 A lesson in hospitality from Grand Hotel

I grew up close to this hotel, and it’s probably the reason you’re reading this newsletter today:

This is Mackinac Island’s iconic Grand Hotel. Every time I walked by this property I felt like I was on vacation. The ability for a place (and service!) like this made me fall in love with hospitality.

I recently spoke with David Jurcak, the hotel’s President of Operations about what we can learn about providing hospitality in a context like this.

“At Grand Hotel we want to create summertime memories for our guests,” he told me. “In order to accomplish this, we need to engage with our guests longer at every point of service.”  

David pointed out that a guest at a resort has a different service expectation. “They are there to relax and enjoy the total experience. A guest at a business hotel wants to avoid lines, move through check-in quickly and get in and out with little to no hassle.  When I worked in that environment my day was full of quick, meaningful service engagements with our guests. In fact, I remember a goal we worked on was the speed of check-in.”   

At a resort, it’s the complete opposite. “With some arrivals, we will spend as long as a guest likes talking at the front desk. It may be a first-time visitor and they want to know details about the resort, and the front desk is their first interaction. ‘Where should I go to dinner? How do I get a reservation? What’s the best time to go to the pool? What activities are you doing? What’s the meal in the main dining room tonight?’ It is an opportunity to start the guests’ stay off properly and make them feel more at ease with all the services.”

A more relaxed pace of engagement with guests should be a priority at a resort property, David says. “No one should feel rushed.” Talking with your guests, asking them about their stay, offering suggestions, and creating casual conversation should be at the core of every guest-team member experience.

“A service delivery as simple as providing a cup of coffee should not be transactional.  Handing a guest a cup of coffee with a smile alone is transactional. Engaging the guest in line, speaking to them during the service process, asking about their plans for the day, and pointing out a few great spots on the island changes the experience from what anyone does to what Grand Hotel uniquely delivers.”

David and his leadership team coach their staff on what they call “transformational service.” 

“We ask they find ways to give the additional effort to make each engagement memorable. What we want from a service standpoint is adding that additional step – being your true authentic, genuine self and taking the extra time to care about the person you are serving.”

“Our hotel is America’s Summer Place.  Summer is all about fun and relaxing.  It is our hope that every interaction is fun, engaging, and ultimately memorable.”

As David pointed out, not every property can or should offer this type of hospitality. But if you work at a property in a place where people are looking for a relaxing vacation, perhaps there are elements of what he describes you can incorporate into your operation.

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