While Top tips on how to avoid pink slips focussed on the strategic aspects of keeping your job, let’s now look at some more tactical career-building and job saving suggestions.
Know your product/property/company
How many times, I cannot recall, have I seen a Concierge, Housekeeper, Server embarrassingly fumble and fail to blurt out the correct response. There have been so many occasions when a Sales Manager has given out wrong facts and figures at an important site inspection. There have been a large number of PR people callously putting down incorrect information in their press releases. I have seen Sales Directors and General Managers look towards the nearest assistant as they fudge data or spin a yarn to quickly fill in the gaps in the gaping holes of their sell story.
You must know your product and your company like the back of your hands – every factoid, every interesting gem of a story that went into making your successes and importantly, all the not so nice tales that serve as a reminder of what must not be repeated.
Know your competitor’s product/property/company better
This is a two-edged sword in your armoury. By knowing your competition better, you can know clearly what you are doing right. More significantly, competition knowledge helps you realize and rectify what you may be doing wrong. That is a big step forward.
FAMs of new properties and restaurants in town or other cities are a great learning exercise. First hand exposure should leave an indelible imprint on your mind that should keep for a long time.
When I was going off on my overseas scholarship, my boss at the time suggested I get in touch with sister hotels, part of the Leading Hotels of the World association that we were a member of, for possible stays so that I could have an up, close and personal look at some of the world’s best run establishments. It was an invaluable tip that taught me some priceless lessons on the best practices adopted by significant others in business.
No amount of marketing literature, PR collateral, website interface and 360 degree views can take place of what you experience in flesh and blood.
Know your guests
Knowing your guests is akin to knowing your job. Whatever you do in your different departments – creating recipes or collateral, devising sales strategies, reinforcing security plans, changing draperies or dresses – you do it for your guests. In fact they are the only reason for your existence and for ensuring that your business sails or tanks.
Hotels that make sure that all their staff cross map the guests and get to know them well not only come out on top at most reader surveys and awards but also have healthy bottom-lines, regardless of seasonal factors.
Most of the good General Managers I have worked with urged me put aside a decent amount of time to work the lobby in order to meet and greet guests. That is one of the sanest times invested in one’s job, as you learn so much about what the guests really want and take their feedback and suggestions to the relevant forums. You get to share the right information about your hotel with the right audience in the most focused and targeted manner at the right time. This also allows for a two-way feel-good exchange that promises to have a long-standing reach and penetration far more than any advertising or marketing thrust would aspire to have.
Know your colleagues
Hotels are one of the most people-centric industries. Most organisations have the luxury of a weekend but hotels work round the clock, with end of the week days getting busier. What’s more, a hotel never goes to sleep. This nature of the business ensures that you are in contact with your colleagues all the time, so becomes essential to know your colleagues well.
Knowing you team mates across departments and cadres is an extremely profitable proposition. Of course you need to know different people to different levels of familiarity – from pleasant exchanges in the corridor (please get away from the cursory nods) with some and getting together with a sense of bonhomie in the staff cafeteria with few others to building lasting bonds (some of which can grow to include the families) with those that you frequently work closely with. Decide on the level you want to get to, judiciously, professionally, and with reason.
Harbouring a sincere and friendly disposition, being approachable, being a congenial personality and a caring person and having a helpful, down to earth nature considerably increases your likeability quotient. This helps widen your circle from top to bottom and creates a good vibe around you.
Knowing your colleagues eases the atmosphere, makes the work environment conducive, dissolves crisis situations, makes things less strenuous and actually injects the element of cheerfulness and fun into toughest of work conditions. Some prominent hotel chains around the world have set a stellar example in “know your employee” policy so much that your performance on this attribute can wing its way into your appraisal!
Learn new tricks
Yes, it is a fact of life. Change is, truly, the only constant. As time goes, we stay in a continuous state of churning. Everyone and everything – our vision, our projection, the way we do our business, demands on us, guest expectation, technology, creative influences, benchmarks, our aspirations from the brand value and the bottom line – yes, we all are in a state of upward progression.
That is why we must be perpetual learners, adding new skills to our repertoire. As a PR specialist, I know that I must become adept at the social media, website management, SEO, photo editors, publishing tools, webinars, video conferencing, virtual meets et. al.
A sales resource must be as proficient in the traditional sales strategies as in digital marketing, TripAdvisor, reputation and social media management, and prompt addressing of comments left behind on the company website or elsewhere.
It pays for a Concierge or Guest Relations executive to be multi-lingual. This holds true for a lot of other team members too. At hotels, not only do we work in a multinational/multicultural environment, our guests too fly in from all corners of the globe. It is a given that speaking in someone’s native tongue is an instant connector breaking down most other barriers.
The General Manager has to be a jack of all trades, mastering new facets from all departments so as to be efficient enough to captain his ship.
One of the finest practices an erstwhile boss had adopted was to share a lot of information covering all departments with his team. We were a part of his change agent team working at re-launching a brand and he made sure that each of us kept up our eagerness to learn what was happening around us in the other areas. I remember being reprimanded by the French boss when I came for the morning meeting through the lobby failing to notice the spectacular flower show-stopper that had been put together by the newly hired floral artists. The GM kept up with his incessant reminders for us to branch out and develop a keen interest in all the other functions of the hotel, prohibiting us from becoming the proverbial ostriches. Today, when I write articles about General Hotel Management and find my pieces used as case studies by hotel schools, I have a lot to thank this GM and his ways for.
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