Too often it is easy to forget what industry you are working. Hospitality brings with it a few disciplines and peculiarities that distinguish it from other trades, and as a career hotelier I am sorrowfully witness to many of us forgetting these core tenets.
While tourism may include restaurants, hotels, airlines, tour operators and many other cottage businesses, what we are seeing now is an owner-driven push for expediency in all processes and interactions, resulting in many companies that are bereft of a true customer service culture. Not to lay the blame solely on those fronting the cash, many hotel senior teams have forgotten about the importance of viewing every decision through the veil of the guest experience, instead focusing strictly on the bottom line.
The problem with this is that you end up losing sight of what really drives profit. As a broad example, think about how organizations lacking a healthy culture where turnover is rampant which incites additional lurking costs while also slowly garnering a bad reputation to dampen the talent pool. Instead, a happy team will mean a renewed focus on the guest experience, thereby deepening the customer’s affinity to the hotel and increasing long-term revenues through loyalty and brand differentiation.
Where I see our collective amnesia over what industry we truly work in coming to a head is when the millennials – myself included – assume top leadership roles within hotel companies. Key to understanding this generational shift is that millennials have been exposed to technology from an early age and this constant addiction to one’s device has resulted in an overall dampening of interpersonal communication skills.
Expounding this characteristic to guest service, it’s easy to see how a culture that is entirely centered around digital interactions can stymie in-person skills. A straightforward solution here is to hold more team training or roleplaying seminars together and by insisting managers or associates put their phones aside during meetings. The more you are able to build up your team’s interpersonal social skills, the more likely you are to have a healthy service culture.
Getting back to the issue at hand, another key contributor to this progression away from the traditions of hospitality is that many organizations simply don’t comprehend the value of providing great service. Average never worked in the past and it’s not worth settling for in the present. The hotel companies that are raking in the profits are those that relish in anticipating guest requests and exceeding in their delivery, because they understand that loyalty and positive word of mouth is built one customer and one interaction at a time.
Providing excellent service always goes back to having an attentive mindset, and this isn’t for everyone. If you hire team members who have exhibited a solid track record of serving others either through their personal or professional lives, they are much more likely to serve your team and guests well. You can’t train for passion, as the saying goes.
So, please take the time to ensure you are hiring the right team members and properly training them on why providing exceptional service is eternally important. Your hotel may very well depend on it!