Amid stiffer competition within the tourism industry, businesses should stand out in terms of customer experience to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market.
Hotelier and tourism advocate Merril Yu said a brand is not only a logo, but customer experience made up of “a thousand small good gestures.”
“The brand is not how I project myself to the market, but how the market views me,” Yu said during the Tourism Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu yesterday, in line with the celebration of Cebu Business Month 2016.
Yu has worked with brands such as the Four Seasons Hotels, the Peninsula Hotel, and MGM.
He said one can add value to their brand by building deep, lasting, and loyal relationships with all key stakeholders, guests and staff members alike.
Yu, quoting the late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, said there is a need to “start with customer experience and work back to technology.”
According to Yu, every organization has a brand standards manual which “we all love to memorize.”
He said there is a need for only the right amount of standards to prevent service from becoming purely transactional.
Brands need to go beyond transactional service by being friendly and efficient at the same time, he added.
“People always tend to gravitate to what is nicer,” said Yu.
Experiences are about people and are often emotional, he said. It becomes “miserable” when the brand’s system is driven by a manual.
“Bring magic into the system by putting customer experience first,” Yu added.
A successful brand, he said, is “where your guests choose you over your competitions and your staff do also.”
Eric Waldburger, managing partner of SPICE Coaching International, said that hospitality is a very simple business because it is all about people.
Waldburger, former president of Marco Polo Hotels, said Filipinos are quite known for their hospitality.
This hospitality, he said, is manifested in the Filipino’s ability to keep smiling even in the most adverse situations.
He said he saw this in the years he has spent working in the Philippines.
Hongkong, one of the places he stayed in the course of his career, is blessed to have many Filipinos employed in the service industry.
“Their presence has helped Chinese in Hongkong become ‘softer,’” he said during the same forum.
He said that Filipino hospitality is the country’s biggest asset and it should be capitalized on.
He also said that this trait begins at home.
“Hospitality begins at home. You are nice to each other, you clean your home, do the cooking, and manage your finances. What’s so complicated to have the same thing in a hotel?” said Waldburger.
He added that the principle is the same, but a good staff is needed to execute it properly.