Think back on the last time you had an outstanding hospitality experience. What components were involved? Was the staff exceptionally friendly? Was the atmosphere warm and inviting? Did your customer experience go off without a hitch?
Now, think about the last time everything didn’t go as planned. What was that experience like? Did the company recover graciously, or leave you feeling unsatisfied?
According to Kevin McHugh, the chief operating officer of The Atlantic Clubs in New Jersey, great hospitality isn’t just defined by when things are going well. It’s also defined by how companies act when things don’t go according to plan.
“We’re very critical of ourselves,” said McHugh. “We use Medallia surveys on a daily basis to see how we’re doing. Not how we think we’re doing, but how the members think we’re doing.”
According to McHugh, The Atlantic Clubs have gone through 5,000 Medallia surveys in the past year. Sometimes, the feedback received is surprising.
“For example, in our Red Bank location, we didn’t feel there were any real issues with our locker rooms, because they were eight years old,” said McHugh. “They appeared to be nice, but from the Medallia survey, we got very low scores. We found out that universally [members] felt that because of the type of grout that was there, they always thought it was dirty. We are now re-doing both of our locker rooms at Red Bank, something that we wouldn’t have thought was an issue.”
McHugh explained that listening to members’ requests and input has led to better retention and an improved customer experience. “Over the last couple of years we’ve gotten better at listening to [our members],” he said. “We change our priorities based on what the Medallia scores tell us.”
In addition to listening to members, McHugh believes encouraging member interaction is a key component to great hospitality. “In the design that Pat [Laus] put together, we have a lot of areas that other clubs might view as having low return on investment,” he said. “We look at it as retention.”
At Red Bank, members can congregate before and after workouts in multiple lounge and sitting areas, or even play bridge in designated spaces. For McHugh, the café is a great place in particular for member interaction. “It’s important to have a good cafe, and we do,” he said. “It’s the social aspect. It gives people the opportunity to workout and then go have lunch together. Or they sometimes just come in for lunch and do bridge. The cafe is a nice component for sociability and hospitality.”
According to McHugh, The Atlantic Club also invests time and money in its landscaping, something he believes is important to good hospitality. “Pat has always felt it’s very important for people, when they come into the club, to have a sense of arrival,” he said. “So when they come in through the club, it’s very well landscaped. Also, when you come inside, there are a lot of fresh plants and it gives a very welcoming look. We want people to feel very comfortable at the club and feel that, next to their home, it’s the nicest place they come to.”
Ultimately, listening to its members through Medallia has allowed The Atlantic Club to stay on top of issues, and react accordingly, so that members feel valued. “We respond to every single survey every day,” he said. “From that, we can see what the members really want us to be doing.”
By Rachel Zabonick