Starkin’ It!

Earlier this year the Hard Rock Tampa Hotel and Casino was featured in an article for Hotel Executive on the subject of Sustaining Service Culture That Drives Radical Change. Since then a significant milestone has been realized! Over 20,000 Team Member Recognitions have been given by this amazing team! What! How? Why? Let’s first flash back to the original article and interview with VP of HR, JC Ayers…

This AAA Four-Diamond award winning property has over 3,400 employees and 400 managers, its casino is one of the most successful casinos in the country. JC describes what began in early 2014:

“Our corporate leadership team identified that the number one priority was our guest service initiative. Each property was charged with developing a plan to execute the initiative locally. Our Executive Team recognized that service comes from within the organization, from highly engaged employees who have a clear understanding of our message. From our employee opinion surveys, we recognized that we had opportunities to improve on giving team members timely feedback, recognition, and a voice. We determined that we must focus on driving our team member engagement scores first, and by doing so, our guest service initiative would in turn follow. Regarding the guest experience, we identified that a gap existed. We were great in transaction, not in transition. We did what we were asked to do, but not so great on the anticipatory and recovery details. This would take a multi angled approach. We revisited SOPs, ramped up communication with town hall meetings, fresh training, which we partnered with Stark on. This program began with our complete management team, and then our employee team.”


Thus far readers may be thinking: ‘this is all HR 101 for creating a culture, but creating and sustaining are two entirely different mountains to scale.’ When your vision is to have thousands of individuals act with precision of a unified team, culture can’t simply be created, it must be sustained. So JC, what else have you done to establish and sustain your guest centric culture and with what results, have they actually experienced ‘radical change’?


“Spoiler alert! What we’ve done is raise our net promoter scores SIGNIFICANTLY. We’re continually increasing our guest emotion ratings month over month, and are very proud to be setting a higher standard each day within our company. Our culture has seen a tremendous impact. We’ve pulled all team members into the conversation. Appreciation and celebration, recognizing and celebrating the positive while holding everyone – management and team members at every level to a higher standard of accountability – is now our day-to- day reality. We are connected across departments, no more silos, at all service intersections team members are experiencing recognition, horizontally and vertically. Everyone can feel the momentum.”


Back to today… In the first 10 months of using the Touch System for employee recognition the team has achieved this amazing milestone of over 20,000 team member recognitions!!! WOW!  Team members are receiving real time recognition from their managers and peer-to-peer. This kind of activity has greatly surpassed the expectations of even senior management. It has also proven true, when given a tool that makes it easy and fast recognition does get overlooked!  What’s more, sustaining a positive energetic culture is possible and realistic! It also addresses some of the most critical challenges most HR departments are faced with in sustaining effective employee recognition programs. That is the least of this team’s concerns with such an outpouring of positive reinforcement for their growing team!


Key take-away from the article:

The bottom line, alwaysremember the “Principle of Reflection”.

  • If A=B: Guest Satisfaction ratings are the reflection of the guest’s interactions with team members they encounter during their stay.
  • And B=C: Team member interactions with guests are a reflection of their interactions with management.
  • Therefore A=C: Guest satisfaction ratings are a reflection of management’s interactions with team members.

So let’s ask, “What are we reflecting? What am I reflecting? What is my management team reflecting?” Ultimately, Guest satisfaction ratings are a reflection of management’s interactions with team members. Therefore:

Guest satisfaction is as healthy as employee satisfaction.
Guest loyalty is as strong as employee engagement.

A guest centric culture that is sustained is the difference between an annual plant that lasts for but a season, and a rooted tree that grows bigger, stronger, and more beautiful with time.

Many work hard to create a culture, but fall short when it comes to being able to sustain it. Bridging HR, Training and Operations with technology is the sustaining power that drives the kind of cultural change that radically affect companies’ competitive position and business performance, it’s the key business differentiator. Period.

To read the full article click here.

To learn more about the Touch System recognition module click here or contact Stark today!