Service Encounter Blog 4 – The Westin Hotel, Vancouver BC
March 12th, 2013
Chapter Covered: Chapter 11 Employees Role & Chapter 12 Customers Role
- Service Culture (Pg. 3132
- Developing a Service Culture (Pg. 313)
- The Critical Role of Service Employees (Pg. 315-317)
- Emotional Labor (Pg. 320-321)
- Customer Receiving the Service (Pg. 347-348)
- Customers as Contributors to Service Quality and Satisfaction (Pg. 354-355)
- Recruit, Educate, and Reward Customers (Pg. 365-367)
Date & Time: March 2012.
Price of Service: Approximately $165 for one night.
Satisfaction Level: 7/7
Likelihood to Return: 7/7
This, my final service encounter blog, takes me back to my most recent stay with a hotel. The encounter was with the Westin hotel on Robson St. in Vancouver in the spring of 2012. I was in Vancouver for a concert and had never stayed at a Westin before, so I decided to give it a try; I had been golfing a few times at Victoria’s Bear Mountain Resort, which was part of a Westin Property. In order to golf you need to walk right through the hotel, and it is an amazing property so my expectations of Vancouver’s Westin were quite high. Those expectations were almost completely met by just walking in the front doors; the hotel entrance was gorgeous, with a giant, curving, marble staircase leading into an amazing lobby. All the staff were friendly and thoroughly looked to be enjoying their jobs.
A crucial ingredient to success in the services industry is having a strong service culture. The norms and ways of an organization have a major affect on employees’ morale and how they perform. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012. Pg. 312). My immediate impression upon entering the Westin was that they had a strong service culture; all the employees I saw were very friendly and attentive to every customer they encountered. The front desk lady the I dealt with during check in was very accomodating and kind. A look over the Westin website quickly reveals the strong service culture they promote. Service clture can not be developed over night, and sutaining a service culture can be even more difficult. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012. Pg. 313). The section of the website titled ‘The Westin Essence’ outlines a very strong commitment to its customers to proved exceptional service. The first thing you see when you click on this section further enhances my point, “At Westin; everything we do is designed to help you feel your best. From our world-renowned Heavenly® Bed and our nourishing SuperFoodsRx™ dishes, to our energizing WestinWORKOUT and our revitalizing Heavenly® Spa treatments, every element of your stay is created to leave you feeling better than when you arrived.” (Westin Hotels and Resorts, 2013). When I was researching services marketing in the hotel industry, I found a very interesting article that discusses the Japanese aapproach to service. (link). The Japanese hotel industry is very interesting as they commit to offering service very personally tailored for each customer. (Belal, 2012).
As I mentioned all the staff I encountered at the Westin were very friendly and behaving very much in line with the service culture. Service employees are arguably the most important contributor to the services marketing of any company. The employees are the service, the organization in the customers’ eyes, the brand, and the marketers. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012. Pg. 316.). A study from the International Journal of Business Administration found that one of the most positive contributors to service performance by employees was co-worker competence. (Gjerald, 2012). This shows how big a role hiring can play in service quality, service performance is a team effort and all team members need to be at a close competence level to keep from pulling anyone down. One of the biggest pressures put on front line service staff comes in the form of emotional labor. Emotional labour refers to the requirement of employees to be friendly, courteous, empathetic, and responsive towards people they have never met and in many cases will never see again. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012. Pg. 321). Having worked in service I know how difficult it can be to put on that happy face when your not having a good day. If any of the staff I encountered at the Westin had been having a bad day I wouldn’t have noticed.
Along with the importance employees in service delivery and performance is the importance of customers. Different services have different levels of involvement by the customers when they are receiveng the service. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012. Pg. 347.). My involvement in the service at the Westin was very minimal, basically just my physical presence was needed, and of course my wallet. I came and went as I pleased and overall enjoyed a very relaxing stay, it was great.
One thing that surprised me during my visit to the Westin was that I wasn’t given a questionnaire to fill out about my visit or asked by any staff what I thought of my visit. Customers can be major contirbutors to the future quality of service, co-creating service offerings with customers can be very effective. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013. Pg. 354). Some customers may not care but I think that the Westin could have taken a better approach to getting my feedback. Even just being asked a few questions as checkout would have allowed me to let them know how the service was. Luckily for the Wesin the lack of effort to receive feedback really didn’t affect my stay as it was a very positive experience. Another very important aspect to service performance is to ensure that you recruit, educate and reward your customers. If you want to customers to be involved in service creation and give input they need to cleary understand their roles and have some sort of incentive. (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2013. Pg. 366).
Overall I cant say enough about my stay at the Westin. The staff were very friendly and super accommodating at every point in my short visit, right from front desk staff to the cleaning maids. Next time I go away the Westin will certainly be one of my top choices.
Belal. (2012). Value Co-creation with Customer through Recursive Approach Based
on Japanese Omotenashi Service . International Journal of Business Administration , 4 (1), 28-38.
Gjerald, O. (2012). Basic Assumptions of Service Employees: Influence on Job
Performance and Market-oriented Behaviors . International Journal of Busines Administration , 3 (6), 1-12.
Westin Hotels and Resorts. (2013). The Westin Essence: For a better you. Retrieved
2013, from Westin Hotels and Resorts: http://www.westinessence.com/#/home/
Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler. (2013). Services Marketing: Inegrating Customer Focus
Across the Firm. New York, NY, USA: Mcgraw Hill.