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The Guest Information Networkhospitality services

The Challenge: To streamline varying methods of collecting guest feedback into a centralized system

Over the years, Penn State Hospitality Services (PSHS) has implemented various methods of measuring and improving guest satisfaction. Individual departments have used customized survey instruments; however, the results were scattered around the organization and there was not a centralized system that would make the information timely and easily available for all managers to act upon, creating a less than optimal process.

The Solution: The Guest Information Network (G.I.N.)

The Guest Information Network (G.I.N.) is a custom-developed application system package (software) where all guest feedback is logged, allowing managers direct and timely access to comments and scores that measure operational success.

Through the G.I.N., managers are able to electronically capture performance scores and written comments from guest surveys. The G.I.N. also incorporates other forms of guest feedback, such as customer focus groups, telephone follow-up interviews, and comment cards that managers can access daily. In addition, the G.I.N. features reports displaying bottom-line performance scores and their relative importance to customers’ intent to return, called Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA).

An example of IPA can be illustrated in restaurant operations. Value for Price Paid and Food Quality are the most important attributes perceived by guests, representing the greatest opportunity for improvement. In an effort to address these critical issues, managers have re-engineered menus. Specifically, a wider variety of entrée options were added to breakfast, dinner, and lounge menus. Recipes were also modified to address comments on food quality. Results indicate that performance scores are increasing in both categories. In addition, written compliments of value perception and food quality have increased as well.

The G.I.N. identifies three main themes: guest compliments; opportunities for improvement; and guest suggestions. The majority of comments praise the quality of products and services. Managers are required to share compliments with employees during team briefings (or shift line-ups) in recognition of their excellent customer service. This has had a direct impact on increased morale and higher retention.

In addition, the G.I.N. serves as a database for Customer Focus Group feedback, making the information easily accessible to all managers. Customer Focus Groups are small and informal groups of individuals that represent Hospitality Services’ customer base. Guests are randomly selected by the Director of a specific department of the hotel and invited to lunch. Either the General Manager or the Associate General Manager facilitates each Focus Group. During the session, questions are asked related to improving products and services that PSHS offers, and lively discussion ensues.

During a restaurant focus group, a common theme among the participants was their dissatisfaction with other guests wearing baseball hats in our restaurants. Based on this feedback, the food and beverage team implemented a hat rack outside our restaurant that reads: “Hats off for the Nittany Lions.” This was a polite way of asking patrons to remove their hats while dining.

Lastly, the G.I.N. allows managers to view comments and respond in a timely manner. For instance, assume a guest stays at one of Penn State Hospitality Services’ properties for three days. If the guest’s experience was unsatisfactory on their first day, managers have the ability to follow-up and recover the service failure while the guest is still in-house. Before the G.I.N. was implemented, managers would only know about the guest’s experience at the end of the month when the information was distributed to all the departments.

The vision with the G.I.N. is to embed quality into the Penn State Hospitality Services’ culture and to have all employees connect everything they do with meeting and exceeding guest expectations. The overarching goal is to consistently deliver outstanding service, to ensure that every guest is happy during every service encounter, and to “Build Relationships That Last.”

Robin Tallon
Jim Purdum,
General Manager,
Penn State Hospitality Services
"The associate general manager and I facilitate customer focus groups where we ask questions related to improving products and services. Lively discussion often ensues."
Mike Conti
Mike Conti,
Assoc. General Manager,
Penn State Hospitality Services
"Managers are required to share compliments with employees during team briefings in recognition of their excellent customer service. This has had a direct impact on increased morale and
higher retention."

   James Purdum
   Michael Conti
   Jiin Chung
   Michael Corsello
   Marcello Khattar
   Ali Kursat
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