Service Design for your BnB Part 2 with David Worthington

Service Design with David Worthington

Returning to the discussion on Service Design: In the last edition I talked about how excellent service has always been key to the industry, but as more people choose to buy ‘experiences’ rather than ‘goods’, their expectation of how those experiences are delivered has increased markedly, especially in the luxury area.

Alongside the demand for better service, the way people are buying things is also changing.

Until recently, it was inconceivable that anyone would buy a car in a shopping centre, but Tesla didn’t know that! – and any of you who have stayed at a CitizenM will have seen how hospitality may also change.

Staying ahead means making sure your product is up to scratch, but almost more important is to make sure the way your guests enjoy your product is as well designed as the product itself.

Think about how the combination of props, environment, people and processes work to deliver your product. Do they act in harmony, enhancing the best aspects of your product, or do they let it down?

Deliver your product brilliantly and you will differentiate yourself from the competition, earn better online feedback and increase new bookings and repeat business.

In the last issue I suggested that in order to understand how well your service performs, you needed to ‘stay’ at your own hotel or BnB, most easily done by asking a few friends or professional ‘mystery shoppers’ to go through the journey for you.

The diagram alongside will help you write a brief for them and to track their journey as they book and stay with you.

By using the stages set out in the diagram you effectively create a table of coordinated and comparable experiences from the people who act as your Mystery Guests, enabling them to record every detail – good or bad – of the experiences they encounter.

I suggest you try it with three guests / guest couples and review where you are. I think you will find you have the beginnings of a raft of valuable insights that will enable you to decide how to improve what you do.

These learnings will also help inform and improve your communications with prospective and existing guests alike – get it right and you should expect to see an increase in both new and repeat bookings as online recommendations improve.

The process will also begin to enable you to see what your offer is like through the lens of your guests and to understand what works and what doesn’t – for them.

You can also use the process to test new ideas and to work out where you can add value.

I hope you enjoy the process…!

service design with david worthington

Service design does what it says on the tin, it’s the process of designing how well you service your guests…


  1. Approach this as a research exercise, recognising that this is possibly only the first step of several – once you begin discovering how people feel about what you do, you will almost certainly want to find out more!
  2. Adapt/re-draw the diagram to reflect your business
  3. Think about which areas of your business are most important to you and what information would be most valuable to find out – is it just the guest experience that you are interested in, or the buying process too?
  4. Recruit three or four friends or couples you know and ask them stay with you as Mystery Guests (don’t tell colleagues who they are and only choose people who say it like it is!) Alternatively pay a professional mystery shopping agency, e.g.


  1. Write a brief – include what you believe your brand stands for, who your competition are, what you are trying to deliver and what you hope your guests experience when staying you
  2. List the ‘touch-points’ you want your Mystery Guests to focus on – e.g. booking priorities, welcome/checkin, breakfast, etc.
  3. Ask them to qualify their experience under consistent headings: we suggest for each touch-point…Rank and comment on the ‘props’ and environment, the people and processesAsk them to tell you how clean, friendly and efficient it was or wasn’t

    Ask what would they do differently too

  4. Only have one group of Mystery Guests staying at any one time


  1. Post visit, meet the Mystery Guests and consolidate their results, ‘layering’ them over the diagram. You now have the beginnings of a picture of your business, from a guest’s point of view
  2. Try to do the post visit meeting within two days of their stay – recollections will be of better quality and you can also add new instructions to the following Mystery Guests
  3. From the results create a priority list… important/unimportant, easy/hard, etc. Noting that there will be several small and easy improvements and touches you can make, which will increase online recommendations and bookings
  4. More interestingly, we think you will find areas that require greater consideration and larger investment, potentially around new ideas and services that could differentiate yourself from your competition

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