Simple, cheap systems can be put into place to improve service and make guests feel welcome. Here's one example of how a CEO learned to improve service and saved a million dollars.
The CEO of a national hotel chain was attending an out-of-town conference, and stayed at a hotel owned by the competition. When he stepped up to the registration desk, the young woman greeted him by saying, "Welcome back." He was impressed that she knew he had been there before, and when he returned to his office a few days later, he challenged his own company to come up with a system to identify and acknowledge returning guests.
Several months and hundreds of man-hours later, the proposal was on his desk. As you can imagine it was awesome in scope and staggering in price...nearly $1 million dollars. Ridiculous he thought. He would never be able to convince his board of directors to approve an expenditure of that size simply so reception clerks could say "Welcome back!"
But I don't suppose you get to be CEO of a multi-billion dollar company without some smarts. So he conducted a little investigating of his own at his competitor's local hotel and was able to come up with the answer. Here's how they did it.
When a cab pulls up to the hotel, the bellman typically assists the driver with a guest's luggage. Whenever possible, the bellman asks the guest, "Is this your first visit with us?" The bell man then escorts the guest into the hotel lobby and makes eye contact with the front desk receptionist. The information is conveyed via a subtle signal...a simple tug on the ear indicates a returning guest.
When the CEO stepped up to register, a genuine smile and a "Welcome back" was all it took to make a significant and very positive impression. It's not a foolproof system, but it didn't cost $1 million bucks either!