Even though culture is often seen as a “soft topic” in business, most people would agree that the culture of a team or of an organisation plays at least some role in its success.
In his book The Culture Cycle, Harvard Professor Emeritus James L Heskett demonstrates that developing the right corporate culture helps companies be more profitable and provides sustainable competitive advantage. Indeed, Heskett finds that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations can be attributed to effective cultures.
So where does the culture of a business sit in the creation of its success?
As far as the guest experience is concerned, there are a number of different levels that will impact ultimate satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
Let’s take a hotel as an example. It can be any hotel, but for some reason it has come to the attention of a member of the travelling public. We’ll call this person Mary, and she could be going on holiday, travelling for business or even attending a conference. This hotel stands out for Mary – it may be because it is part of a known brand, perhaps it has been recommended to her or possibly it has appeared on a website she was surfed. It could be the hotel is the conference hotel, or Mary’s company has a corporate rate there.
Whatever the reason, Mary has booked because of the hotel’s brand promise. This promise could come in the form of things like word of mouth, advertising jargon or images displayed on the website. It represents the kind of value for money that Mary is looking for.
When Mary arrives at the hotel she will very quickly decide whether the product meets her expectations based on her perception of the brand promise – from the very first impression created by the grooming and appearance of the airport representative or the presentation of the exterior of the hotel, through to the size and cleanliness of the room and beyond. The product really does support the perception of the brand…or not.
Of course, while using all the facilities of the property Mary will also experience the service the hotel has to offer. It is this service that will bring the product to life and will sell the facilities to her. The people behind the service will create the “wow” experiences that will motivate Mary to become a loyal guest.
So what inspires the service that sells the product that supports the brand? It is the culture!
The culture lays the foundation upon which the credibility of the property, and its ability to meet its brand promise, will be built. It is the essence and the spirit of the hotel. Without team members who enthusiastically strive to generate the sort of service experiences that create an emotional connection, it doesn’t matter how good the product is, or how recognisable the brand, the guest will look elsewhere for a hotel where all of their physical and emotional needs are met.
Ultimately, it will be the culture of the business that inspires the team to deliver the service that sells the product that in turn supports the brand – and earns the operating profit all businesses aspire to!
About the author
Timothy Millett’s training roles have seen him deliver programs across Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and America ensuring cultural sensitivity as well as a broad base of experience in lecturing, teaching and training.
A graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland, his hospitality career spans management and director positions in Front Office, Guest Relations, Public Relations, Food & Beverage and Training with organisations including the Regent of Melbourne, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Mövenpick Gastronomy. He was also a founding staff member of the internationally renowned Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia.
Tim is currently the Director of Training and Development at iperform, an organisation that specialises in Sales and Service, Leadership and Effective Personal Organisation programs.