Paying Attention to Your Customer's Voice


How often do you engage in a conversation with your guests/customers to find out what they really think about your hotel? When your hotel is planning a new food and beverage concept, considering a guest room redesign, or adding experiential programming, are frequent guests from key market segments asked for their input, feedback, and ideas?

I'm often surprised when I attend hotel operational meetings and there is no mention of the customer in the discussion. It suggests that hotel leaders think they know their customers so well that they can create programming, design concepts, and plan marketing campaigns without input from those who will be spending money to utilize the facilities. When the capital expenditure is small, the risks are low, and it may not be worth the time and effort to set up a formal feedback loop; however, when the expense is large, it is shortsighted to leave out soliciting feedback from those who will be using the service or product.

And what about engaging in a conversation to better understand how customers feel about the current service and product at the hotel? TripAdvisor comments and guest surveys are good up to a point; however, as a one-way dialogue, there isn't an opportunity to probe deeper for clarity or to expand on ideas.

An often-overlooked dialogue is hearing from customers who no longer frequent the hotel. What mechanisms are in place to solicit feedback that trigger when a frequent guest no longer returns? It could be as simple as reduced business travel to the destination, but it may be because they have taken their business to the hotel down the street.

The best way to truly understand the customer and hear, first hand, what's on their mind is an Environmental Scan. It looks at information from all data points, including online commentary and guest survey results, but also engages in a conversation with customers to really understand what they think about the hotel and what they would like to see in the future.

Customer focus groups are an effective way to have this dialogue. People from all market segments are engaged in a discussion, mixing current customers, past users who haven't been there in a while, and potential customers who prefer the competitor. To ensure there isn't any type of bias these discussions are best conducted by an objective, neutral, non-employee who is an expert at facilitation and probing to ensure answers are clearly understood and motivations are uncovered.

This forum is also an opportunity to test new ideas including food and beverage concepts, marketing campaigns, room packages, experience programming, new design décor, and even new hotel destinations.

The benefits of this process are many: talking to customers who may be silently unhappy and about to go elsewhere before they leave to get them to stay; feedback from potential customers who aren't buying; ideas on what would it take to get customers to spend more; and guidance on funding decisions to create services the customer really wants and not just what you think they want. It spends the financial resources more wisely.

I recommend hotels do this process at least once per year and especially when a major expenditure is about to happen.


Paying attention to the customer's voice with an Environmental Scan is a great way to uncover the hidden issues and motivations that impact where they stay and how they spend their money. If done correctly, it can lead to happier guests and increased hotel revenue.


"Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers"
Seth Godin

Take the Next Step Now

Improve your Customer Experience by hiring Jo-Anne to:

  • Environment Scan: Paying Attention to The Customer's Voice
  • Getting Behind Barriers that Impede Employee Productivity
  • Creating a Healthy Organizational Culture
  • Improving Employee Engagement
  • Improving Customer Satisfaction
  • Leadership Training
  • Leadership Executive Coaching

About Jo-Anne Hill

Founded by industry expert Jo-Anne Hill, JH Hospitality Consulting dramatically improves revenue and profitability in creative ways at hotels around the world. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

If you would like more information on improving hotel revenue and profitability, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected]

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