3 different guests are coming to your church this Sunday. Are you ready? (Part 1 of 1)

3 guests.jpg

In these next 3 posts, I will be breaking down some profound assimilation takeaways from Horst Schultze, former President and COO of Ritz-Carlton Hotels. If you are like me, you have heard about Horst and what he did to revolutionize the hospitality industry through books, conferences like Willow Creek's Leadership Summit and podcasts like Andy Stanley's. As Sherpas hoping to help climbers reach the summit of full connection in our churches, we can learn from guys like this in the hospitality industry.

Today, lets start by looking at the 3 kinds of customers Schultze identifies that any business or organization serves whether they are in retail, hospitality, or a church. He describes them as...

  1. A Satisfied Customer
  2. A Loyal Customer
  3. A Dissatisfied Customer

Let's break these down more specifically into 3 types of guests you and I will encounter this weekend:

Guest Satisfied.jpg

1. The Satisfied Guest

These are people who received what they expected. In a hotel, these are people who slept well, enjoyed the ambience and value for the dollar. In the service industry, it is contentment with services rendered. In a church, it would be someone who found the sermon relevant, not too long, heard quality music and used a clean restroom. 

A satisfied guest is not our goal.

A satisfied guest is not our goal because if there are other options that can give him or her the same experience, they will go there instead. In the same way a satisfied customer at a hotel will become a satisfied customer of another hotel that offers a cheaper room rate or is a little closer to the airport, a satisfied guest to your church will attend another church next week if it offers the same relevant type of sermon, good music and clean restrooms but has a message series they find more relevant to them right now or a location that may be a closer to the freeway. A satisfied guest is not what we are shooting for. (Click here to discover what makes the difference between guest satisfaction and guest engagement). What we are shooting for is this:

guests loyal .jpg

2. The Loyal Guest

This is where the money is. Literally.

Schultze defines a loyal guest as someone who will choose to stay at the Ritz-Carlton because it is the experience they want more than that of any other hotel, even if it cost more. These guests are like customers who will pay more for a book at Barnes and Noble because they like the experience of brick and mortar more than having it delivered in 2 days to their home by Amazon. 

At church, we have a family that drives from Lake Arrowhead an hour and 30 minutes every weekend to Anaheim to worship and volunteer at our church. Another family drives the same distance but from the high desert. They pass by a hundred churches that they could worship and serve in every Sunday to come to ours. They are loyal guests who became loyal members. 

Schultze has calculated that the average loyal guest is worth $150,000 in income to his hotels over the course of their lifetimes. Though I don't recommend looking at the value of a guest at your church in that way, it is easy to see that a loyal guest who becomes a loyal member is worth more the 150k in terms of their tithe over the course of a lifetime. Regardless of the many ways you can look at the opportunities each guest brings to your church, why would we not invest our best energy and resources on the front end of a guest's experience with us? When we don't, it is all too easy to end up with this 3rd type of guest:

Guest unhappy.gif

3. The Dissatisfied Guest

This is someone whose experience was negative. They may have had to walk unusually far to get to the front door of your facility only to find out that it was the wrong door altogether. Maybe no one spoke to them and no one was at the info counter to answer questions. Maybe their child cried through the entire service. Maybe the music came off odd or the pastor came off cold. Whatever it may be, they are not coming back.

Because of the value Horst Schultze places on guests at the Ritz-Carlton, he gave a $2000 budget per guest to each employee to be used at their discretion to help turn a satisfied or a dissatisfied guest into a loyal one (See this policy at the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center) and also their 7 Advantages to Empowerment). I will never forget one of the stories he told about one such employee when I heard him speak.

A housekeeper at the Atlanta hotel got to know the man who was staying in a room she was assigned to keep clean. As she was encouraged to, she remembered his first name, greeted him accordingly when she saw him, and even found out from him that he was preparing a talk that he was going to give at his corporate conference in Hawaii the next day. When he checked out, she cleaned his room only to discover he had left his laptop. Knowing his notes for the talk were on it, she raced to the front desk to find out his flight information so she could meet him at the airport. He was already boarding by this time so she did something extraordinary: She used part of the budget she was empowered with as an employee to purchase herself a round trip ticket to Hawaii. Upon arrival, she went to the convention center, found the man, and handed him his laptop before he even knew it was missing. His grateful shock was obvious. She immediately got on a return flight to Atlanta, confident that whether he was a satisfied or dissatisfied guest before, he was a loyal one now. All it cost was a plane ticket.

What will the 3 different guests coming to your church this weekend cost you? Filled with Jesus' love for people and empowered by the Spirit of God, I would recommend this: whatever it takes.

My next post in this 3-part series will reveal the 3 things every guest is looking for according to Schultze. I guarantee one will surprise you.

Cliff Mojo.png
  • How would you calculate the value of a first time guest to your church? What measurements would you use? 
  • How much energy and resources do you spend on the experiences of guests at your church? What forms does that take? How much does it cost your church to offer those experiences?
  • Like the story of the housekeeper who returned the laptop, what stories do you have of someone who turned a satisfied or dissatisfied guest into a loyal member? What did they do? What did it cost?
  • How could you empower your staff and key volunteers to make loyal guests like Horst Schultze did?
Greg Curtis2 Comments