By now you’ve heard about the Australian radio DJs who called the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital and received information about her health. You’ve also heard about the staffer who transferred the call committing suicide. This was a tragic situation, yet 100% preventable, and offers an important lesson to hospitality.
Hospitality professionals frequently find themselves as the gatekeeper between confidential information and inquiring minds. Sometimes this information is related to celebrity, but the worst–and most common–cases seem to be when John Smith’s father asks for his room number and we can’t give it out.
- I’ve been told I couldn’t sit at a bar (and drink coke and eat a burger) because I didn’t have my ID with me. (Restaurant owner’s policy.)
- I saw a 70 year old woman not allowed into a free wine tasting event after waiting in line for an hour because her driver’s license was expired. (Event manager’s policy)
These policies annoy our guests and are exceptionally difficult on our teams, who are often verbally abused and insulted by our guests who don’t understand.
Yes, abusers of particular information and privileges are far and between. (Chances are, nobody is stalking John Smith). But when the local or even national media runs a headline and it’s your team member who…gave out the room number that led to the assault…or provided the confidential information on a guest’s profile that led to identify theft…or served a drink to the sting officer and shut down your bar…you can blame the criminal or the kid or the DJ…you can blame the bartender or the front desk…you can blame whomever you’d like.
But remember: Blame is reactive, not proactive.
Proactive is an insanely strict process that will:
• Consider the long-term consequences
• Protect your guests, your team members, and your business
• Back-up the frontline response.
And it’s simple: “If you give out a room number to one of our mystery shoppers, you will be terminated immediately.” Or, in the case of the hospital, “Any interaction with VIP guests must be channeled through this specially-trained department…or you will be terminated immediately.”
Develop process. Set expectations. Enforce them.
It won’t solve all your problems, but it’ll go a long way.