In my sport event venues career, I have had the opportunity to create three different guest services programs for three different event venues in San Diego, Chula Vista and Long Beach. Each venue was unique in terms of venue operations, guest expectations and staff culture. Despite their differences, I used a similar approach to create best- in- class guest services programs in each venue.
Here, I will explore that approach and identify the 4 steps required to develop an exceptional guest services program for sport event venues.
4 Steps to Exceptional Guest Services for Sport Event Venues:
- Establish a clear vision
- Define desired staff characteristics
- Develop a clear decision matrix
- Articulate specific guidelines for guest interaction
To keep it digestible, I am breaking the blog topic into 4 parts. The sum of these 4 sections will result in a functional guide for creating an effective guest services program.
Take action and start the process.
Use the guidelines here to initiate higher level conversation with your leadership team. Guest Services is an applied discipline. It cannot be created in a vacuum and then dictated to staff. Seek input and foster collaboration through this process.
Part 1: Establish a Clear Vision
The aim of a guest services program is to deliver service in the most effective and efficient manner possible while also accepting the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of each guest. The first step is to…
define what the expected level of service is for your venue.
It is impossible to meet or exceed service expectations if you never define what they are.
Service expectations must first be accepted internally. This is intended to be a collaborative process that is intradepartmental and involves thought leaders in all levels of the organization. Service expectations are defined by the Statement of Common Purpose. This is an inspirational and motivational tool used to set up both short term and long term goals.
A statement of common purpose is an inspirational and motivational tool used to set up both short and long term goals.
The Statement of Common Purpose fulfills these three goals:
- Defines the organization’s purpose
- Aligns that purpose with its customers’ expectations
- Communicates that alignment to its employees
This statement must be known and understood by ALL in the organization- it is meaningful. The Statement of Common Purpose almost functions as a department slogan that staff could recite on command out of familiarity (rather than obligation). The details laid out in the Statement of Common Purpose must be realistically achievable. It speaks to what you are and considers the strengths and weaknesses inherent to the venue.
In one of the venues I worked in, I frequently asked the leadership team…
“Are we the Motel 6 or the Four Seasons?”
Neither is right or wrong. The answer though, tells you a lot about your service proposition and how to respond accordingly. For example, a burned out light bulb might go a day or two before being replaced in a Motel 6 whereas the Four Seasons responds immediately… or more likely, has a maintenance plan in place to change bulbs preemptively before they burn out.
The Statement of Common Purpose is not a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), the BHAG would more likely, be your Visioning Statement. A Visioning Statement describes the organization as it would appear in a future, successful state. The Visioning Statement answers, “what would the organization look like in 10 years if it were to achieve all of its strategic goals.” The Visioning Statement is also important to creating a powerful guest services program because it is aspirational. It creates a mental picture of a future, ideal state while challenging and inspiring staff to accept their individual contributions to achieving that organizational goal.
A Visioning Statement describes the organization as it would appear in a future successful state.
Guest services is human. It is amazing to realize that most organizations rely on their lowest paid and least experienced staff (i.e. least skin in the game) to deliver on the company’s mission and vision. For this model to work, effective guest services requires front- of- house staff to:
Front- of- House Staff Expectations:
- Be understanding of the service promise the organization is making.
- Be trained on how the organization delivers on that promise.
- Be empowered and trusted to make decisions that meet or exceed the service promise.
- Be supported in unique and challenging situations that require escalation.
Venue staffing is one of the critical dimensions of an ideal events venue. Good front- of- house staff are incredible people with strong internal motivation. They are ambassadors who represent the organization in the most direct way and often in challenging conditions. In exchange for their dedication, guest services professionals deserve involved leaders who respect, appreciate and support their contributions.
Effective guest services programs for a sports event venue starts with the establishment of a clear vision. Service expectations must be defined, aligned with the expectations of the guests and communicated to the staff. A Statement of Common Purpose and Visioning Statement are powerful tools venues can create to develop the guest services vision. This early work requires massive collaboration, buy in from leadership and a commitment to the process.
Please let us know if we can help you get started on the visioning process. We can provide templates for visioning exercises and sample Statements of Common Purposes. We can also help moderate discussion panels to facilitate high level buy in.