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A Lesson In Profitability

BITAC® Symposium Keynote Stresses Importance Of Customer, Employee Relationships

Friday, September 15, 2017
Dennis Nessler
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Maximizing profitability is always top of mind for hotel companies as well as their suppliers and each group was given some insight on just how to do that during a keynote address at the recently concluded BITAC® Symposium 2017.

Steve Yastrow—founder of consulting firm Yastrow and Company and whose background includes stints as a marketing executive with Hyatt Hotels and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants—addressed attendees in a workshop presentation entitled, “Brand Harmony: Unleash The Latent Profit In Your Business.”

Yastrow outlined the objective of the workshop, which was for attendees to identify “where is the latent profit in your business? Where are those riches that are yet to be unearthed?”

A major point of emphasis throughout the discussion was the importance of the relationship between the employee and the customer. “What your employees believe and do drives the experience your customers have. That experience is what gets customers to love you and want to do things that make you more successful; like buy from you, pay your price, or refer you,” he said.

Yastrow went on to define a customer as “anyone whose actions can affect your results.” As such, he pointed out that for hoteliers that could include anyone from investors and employees to OTAs and suppliers.

Yastrow underscored the importance of customers. “No matter how hard you work you don’t create the profits in your business, your customers do. Everything you do in your company is designed to get your customers to do things to make you more successful,” he said.

In addition, when formulating a brand strategy it needs to be focused on the customer, according to Yastrow. “The first, most important question we want to answer is what do we want our customer to think about us that if they thought it they would love us and be loyal to us?” he said.

In discussing branding, the subject of pricing was addressed as well. “People will pay more. The biggest mistake we all have in pricing is not pricing too high, it’s pricing too low. And price is always a factor in every transaction, people always have the potential to pay more,” he said.

Yastrow provided further evidence in the form of specific examples. “The customers of Ritz-Carlton, Porsche and Starbucks are price sensitive, they’re just getting enough other stuff that price matters less. Price is always a factor,” he said.

Yastrow stressed the need for human interaction at critical touch points as he talked about “one of the most important customer experiences” that was put in place during his tenure with Kimpton more than a decade ago. The initiative—known as the Kimpton Moment—is still in place today.

“When an employee meets a guest your job isn’t just to process their credit card, make a key, or serve them a meal, the ultimate goal is to make sure after your done interacting with that guest their relationship with you with and this hotel, and Kimpton overall, is stronger than it was. We knew to tell the Kimpton story we needed to tell a relationship story,” he said.

Yastrow shifted gears and talked about the essential role played by employees, particularly in terms of establishing a brand.

“Employee beliefs are the internal brand; your brand inside the company is what your employees believe you are…If your employees don’t share a passion for what your company is all about, they’re not going to act in ways to create that brand harmony,” he said.

Yastrow went on to offer a message to suppliers at the event. “You’re not just providing them with hardware or amenities or technology. Your company helps hotels thrive and succeed, helping them deliver a great guest experience and return money to their investors. If your employees see what you do and how it impacts your customers aren’t they going to be more motivated,” he said.

Similarly, he noted to hoteliers, “You’re not just providing a room, you’re helping people have better leisure experiences or meetings. You’re helping impact people,” said Yastrow.

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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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