Q&A: Offering More To Your Members and Front of the House Employees
To most clubs and resorts, front of the house employees represent the face of your business –– they’re the ambassadors to your property and have the potential to transform the member experience. Because these employees play such an important role, the clubs they work for should be not only be paying attention to, but strongly investing in, their satisfaction, engagement, and performance.
Forbes Travel Guide is one of the leading companies that provides luxury and full-service hotels with tools and platforms to energize and enrich the lives of their team members through goal setting, professional coaching, and ongoing training which can help drive engagement, and therefore, higher sales. And recently, they expanded beyond hotels and into private clubs.
Private Club Marketing spoke with David Tyson CCM, Vice President, Private Clubs of Forbes Travel Guide, about the company’s belief that greater engagement of front of the house staff translates to greater member/guest experience and increased incremental revenue, as well as how Forbes Travel Guide makes that happen.
PCM: Can you provide a basic summary of what Forbes Travel Guide’s Private Club division does?
David Tyson: Forbes Travel Guide is the global expert on genuine Five-Star service. We’ve been providing training at the most prestigious hotels around the globe for more than 15 years, and it’s because of this reputation that private club owners and managers regularly approach us. They want to replicate the same exceptional service found in Five-Star hotels, so we created our Private Clubs division.
We offer a variety of services tailored to clubs:
Our approach starts with Forbes Travel Guide standards – more than 500 clearly defined guidelines that are a roadmap for member expectations at clubs and provide structure for staff and management.
Our expert in-person training helps staff understand the “why” behind the standards, and how to apply our guidelines in a variety of situations, while engaging and motivating front-line teams and managers alike. We can extend that learning through online training, which is scalable to large teams and helpful for onboarding new employees.
Further, clubs can engage in Custom Standards Development, where our experts collaborate with club leadership to identify the fundamentals of the club’s culture and codify service guidelines specific to that club.
And for clubs that want to benchmark and track their performance on Forbes Travel Guide or custom standards, we also provide Quality Assessments – a detailed service and facility audit to provide clear, independent perspective on what’s happening at the club.
PCM: Many private clubs already run similar employee training and management programs internally. What makes Forbes Travel Guide’s Private Clubs services different from these internal programs?
Tyson: We’ve been defining luxury hospitality for more than 60 years and currently provide support services in 74 countries. We also work with other service-oriented industries, such as luxury residential, cruise lines, private aviation, and event venues. As a result, we have unrivaled expertise and enjoy a unique position in having global visibility of luxury service delivery. This gives us a great perspective when working with private clubs, something that is difficult to match with in-house training programs. It also helps for management and staff to hear a fresh perspective.
PCM: Some people might see what these incremental revenue programs as basic upselling 101. How would you respond to this?
Tyson: Upselling does not make service, but service can make or break upselling. Ultimately, we want to create an environment where the member feels special, where there is trust and rapport built between the member and staff, and where the staff is approaching interactions with thoughtfulness and anticipation of the member’s needs. All of those skills are of a much higher order than basic upselling. When you have them in place, upselling happens of its own accord, and more effectively than it would if it were approached purely from a transactional point of view. Establishing that kind of service culture ultimately supports bigger-ticket concerns such as member recruitment and retention.
PCM: What are some of the other elements beyond pay that hospitality leaders should focus on that contribute to running a strong team?
Tyson: Positive company culture is single-handedly the most important element for running a strong team, and it needs to be driven by strong leadership. Hospitality leaders must prioritize culture, as it is their key differentiator and can drive strong business outcomes. Culture informs how staff behave and perform, which is paramount in the hospitality industry. Additionally, the best staff want to work at the best organizations, which in turn fuels stronger teams. Our tailored training solutions help to enhance and elevate company culture since we work closely with team leaders to maintain and sometimes even co-create great company culture. Excellent service is always at the core.
PCM: How does this directly translate to higher property revenue?
Tyson: It’s proven that organizations with a positive company culture perform best. It’s simple to see why — a great company culture equates to happier teams which results in happy customers, thus better guest retention and brand reputation. The end result is a contributing factor to higher club revenue.
PCM: Forbes Travel Guide puts a lot of emphasis on real-time data and insights to show what’s working and what’s not working. Can you talk about how Forbes Travel Guide thinks about data and metrics?
Tyson: Forbes Travel Guide’s super power is combining data and training. The results of our Quality Assessment – where we assess a club on more than 500 service and facility standards – give our trainers insight into each club’s unique strengths and opportunities, allowing them to target their training approach.
For club leaders, our Quality Assessments provide actionable insights through a combination of scoring and detailed evaluator observations that explain the hits or misses on each standard. Our online reports include tools to filter, sort and search results – all the way down to the level of tracking individual standards over time – so that club leaders can identify trends and examine their performance from a variety of perspectives.
PCM: Forbes Travel Guide works with hospitality clients in more than 72 countries. Can you talk about managing programs that drive employee and guest satisfaction on a global scale?
Tyson: Every engagement is unique, depending on the level of staff skill, management goals, and local environment. That would seem like a challenge on a global scale, but it’s not because we do not mandate a cookie-cutter approach to service. Instead, we strive to make service consistent, efficient, thoughtful and anticipatory within the personality and circumstances of each organization. We focus on helping staff see their actions through the eyes of the people they serve, and we give staff the guidelines and skills they need to provide intuitive and genuine Five-Star service. In the end, the essentials are the same everywhere: Committed leadership, clearly defined operating procedures, and well-trained staff focused on common goals. It’s a proven combination that we’ve seen succeed time and time again in the world’s most exceptional hotels.
PCM: Can you provide an example of a brand in the club industry you’ve partnered with that achieved higher incremental revenue and employee and guest satisfaction?
“Forbes Travel Guide is the ultimate training tool. The team is a dedicated, extremely knowledgeable group of hospitality professionals who have added tremendous value to my organization.” – RYAN M. DIONNE, GENERAL MANAGER-COONORTH JERSEY COUNTRY CLUB
“I believe every club that would like to be “relevant” in today’s service and hospitality culture should be partnering with Forbes Travel Guide services. I am so glad that they decided to venture into the club business. Their trainings have been carefully crafted to deliver only the very best experience in member services.” – MICHAEL RIOS,CCM, GENERAL MANAGER-DORADO BEACH RESORT AND CLUB
Forbes Travel Guide has recently partnered with Distinguished Clubs to create a strategic partnership working together to improve the service values that members expect to receive. This partnership is important as the two brands will work collaboratively to elevate service standards within private clubs. The aim is to broaden and further lift private clubs and their management in meeting expectations and demands of current and future members in the private club industry.
This content was created in collaboration with Forbes Travel Guide’s Private Club Division and published by Private Club Marketing’s branded content studio.