The Marriot group of hotels that today boasts of about 8000 hotels worldwide, the great chain of hotels was established in the year 1983 and is believed to be the 12th largest lodging facility in the world (Singh, Kumar & Sharma 86). This paper analyses the service strategies and the service quality that Marriott group of hotels has employed and in essence it divulges into the relevance of each (strategy and quality) in the hospitality management industry. First the paper discusses service quality drawing inferences from the Marriott group of Hotels and subsequently it analyses Service Strategy also drawing inferences from the Marriott group of Hotels.
The strategy employed in the hospitality industry particularly in service delivery is central to retaining customers. Equally important is the quality of the services offered by the industry to be able to maintain existing customers and attract new ones. Singh et al. observe that in the event that the hotel is deemed by customers to have ‘bad service’ the immediate reaction is the loss of clientele as they flee from the premises. Consequently, the effect is likely to replicate from one customer to another where through word of mouth the news about poor service delivery spreads to potential customers crippling business for the hotel. Service delivery is an essential concern for hospitality industry management since the greatest fear of any hotel manager is to lose his or her customers to competitors (89).
The delivery of quality services is the central route to success in the hospitality industry and within itself an excellent service strategy. This is because quality service sustains customer’s confidence and gives the firm a competitive edge over its rivals in the industry. Particularly in the hospitality industry the quality of service delivery is essential for the sustenance of the hotel business. Thus it is central that hotel management seek to constantly improve its quality of services. Such improvement can be effectively achieved by asking two general yet important questions; first, what are the causes of service quality inefficiencies and secondly, what are the customers’ expectations of the level of quality of services offered and how can these be achieved? The answers to these two questions form the base line or foundation on which the management can use to address the shortcomings of the service delivery.
Singh et al. concur those customers’ expectations and customers’ perceptions are shaped from their previous experiences in other hotels as well as in the same hotel. For example if an individual who prior to the visit to the hotel experienced poor services in another hotel their expectations would be surpassed by the better services offered by the hotel. On the other hand if the visitor experienced better services in another hotel they are more likely to have higher expectations than can be delivered by the hotel. Hence, it is crucial that management puts into consideration the aspect of customer expectations visa vis customer’s perception about service delivery in the hotel. This may help in developing quality standards that are acceptable across the board.
More often than not it is easy to point fingers on service delivery personnel for poor services, however in some instances the personnel may not be the problem but rather the culprit may be an inefficient service delivery system or mechanism that renders the effective delivery of services inadequate . In the case of the Marriott group of hotels their conceptual understanding of quality service delivery lies in the differences between client’s expectations and actual performance through the execution of the service. This difference is based on various dimensions that encompass service reliability, empathy and responsiveness. In the light of these factors if the customers deem the service not to meet the expected standards despite the efforts employed by the hotel staff according to Marriott hotel’s management; quality service standards have not been met .
These dimensions of service quality namely; empathy, reliability, responsiveness, and tangibility are central in developing and maintaining a customer base in the hotel industry. More importantly, the qualities of service met through these four dimensions have been proven to expand customer loyalty in several branches of the Marriott group of hotels based in Jordan. These hotels have experience repeat visitations from clientele who were satisfied by the quality of their services offered by the hotels .
Notwithstanding, the overriding principal that should drive any hotel manger’s mandate in quality service delivery is to ensure that they listen to the customer at any one particular time. Listening to the customers’ needs and complaints can go a long way in ensuring that the issues that matter to the customer are satisfactorily addressed. For example the Marriott hotel in Chicago took time to listen in on calls made by guests to the house keeping department and discovered that 62% of the calls made were requests for iron boxes and or ironing boards. Whereas the cost of installing ironing boards visa vis that of the priority of management at the time to install color TV sets in the rooms were competing with limited resources at hand; the management thought to risk it by installing iron boards and iron boxes and foregoing the installation of color TV sets. In the end it turned out to be the best decision as it improved the performance of the hotel and increased its revenue earnings. This was achieved by first retaining existing customers and secondly by attracting new clientele due to the improved state of the rooms in the hotel
The element of strategy in any business setting is the definition of the road map that the organization plans to employ to achieve its overall objectives. In this case service strategies refer to the plans the hospitality industry put in place to meet the service requirements of their customers. Marriott hotels have a vision on service delivery that is centered on customer satisfaction under the slogan “Spirit to serve the customer”. The core value of Marriott’s philosophy is to serve the customer through their employees. Principally, the group of hotels operates on the strong belief that if employees are treated well by the management then they are in a position to further this good treatment to the customers which is the ultimate concern of management. Although this is commendable it is typical of the vision of all hotels in the hospitality industry. Hence the importance of rebranding to distinguish the Marriott group of hotels from competitors in terms of strategy employed in service delivery. Ultimately, this proves crucial in any case if the hotel is to remain competitive (Singh, Kumar and Sharma 90)
Perhaps the greatest challenge for hotel managers in developing and in the implementation of appropriate service strategy is in ensuring that costs incurred are manageable. In the case of Marriott hotels for instance several costs are incurred some of which include; operational costs, cost of retaining existing customers, cost of enticing new customers etc. For most hotels the greatest challenge lies in tackling all these challenges at the same time. Moreover, they also have to balance all these challenges with the growth of the company which should be proportionate to the customer base of the hotel at any one time.
Whereas it is the mandate of the hotel management to provide the best strategy that offers customers the highest quality of service; in most instances the customers perceptions of quality may not be adequately satisfied in every encounter. To solve this problem the firm may develop a money back guarantee for insufficient services rendered. This is a good strategy in service delivery and has been argued to be a show of fair play and commitment to customer’s satisfaction. In addition, money back guarantees place pressure on employees who would rather avoid the embarrassment that the firm and they themselves would suffer in instances where payouts have to be made due to their negligence or inefficiency .
Furthermore, the role that information plays in strategic service rendering by the management of the hotel is crucial for the successful implementation of a service strategy in various ways. For instance, communication for the Marriott group of hotels with regard to feedback from individual guests pertaining to their perceptions of the quality of service offered. In this way the hotel’s management can immediately identify the short falls that their staff or systems have that inhibit the capacity of the organization to deliver quality services. This can also be used as a means of evaluation where the hotel’s management gets views from different guests who stay at their hotel about their services. In the end, the hotel’s management can evaluate the feedback received from their guest to make appropriate improvements in the services they render.
Singh et al. observe that the trend today on extensive marketing by hoteliers to attract customers to spend time in their hotel is becoming all too familiar. The management of the hotel is therefore faced by the challenge of distinguishing themselves from the other hotels marketing themselves in the same manner to give them an edge over the competition. Through quality service delivery it is a proven fact that satisfied guests would advance appraisal about the hotel through word of mouth. Satisfied guests can get to give testimonies about the quality of service that they received from the hotel. Luckily, such appraisals may serve to win the hotel new customers as a result of the networks of good will ambassadors developed from individuals who are satisfied with services that the hotel offers. Moreover, the hotel also sustains a customer base of satisfied customers who make repeat visits to the hotel .
Service quality and service strategies are both important aspects in the development and the implementation of appropriate mechanism for service delivery to customers in the hotel industry. Both service quality and service strategy are independently aspects that managers in the hospitality industry need to address keenly if their hotel is to realize greatest benefits from exploiting its full potential with regard to service delivery to its clientele. Nonetheless the independence of strategy and quality in service management in the hospitality industry does not mean that the two do not complement each other in any case the two serve the general purpose which is to achieve the goals of the organization.
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