The Hospitality Gene: A Beast, a Blessing & a Payoff

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | June 16, 2013

Hoteliers who rise to the top of their game have an intense level of attention to detail. They notice everything, as a good hotel executive very well should. No detail can dodge them. The employee who printed out a running trail map when they heard a guest loved to jog outside. The one wilted flower in the massive lobby arrangement. The staffer who said ďlet me walk you thereĒ instead of just pointing out the way. The singular employee out of 100 who is not wearing a nametag. The waitress who overheard someone was celebrating a birthday and brought over a dessert and rallied the team to sing. The table that waited just a little too long to place their breakfast order. The associate who welcomed a guest back by name and said nice to see you again. It is the details, whether one or a dozen, which make an experience go from okay to outstanding. It can be the difference between a guest writing a glowing review of your property to no review at all. Details can drive people to go home and tell their friends, or tell no one at all (or worse, tell people they didnít enjoy their stay). Itís the good details that make for the best stories and memories. Itís the gory details that make for nightmarish customer service tales. Word of mouth comes from the nuggets of experiences that stand out from a trip. For better or worse. It can lead to repeat guests or never-return-back-again customers.

The truth is, you can take a hotel executive out of his/her hotel, but you canít take the hotel industry out of his/her blood. True-blood hoteliers have a condition that I refer to as the Hospitality Gene: super-hyper attention to every last detail. Itís a lingering condition. Even when you leave the hotel, you canít turn off your checklist. It is a blessing. And a beast.

Hospitality Gene: The Beast

Letís start with when itís a beast. Youíre on vacation. After a long flight you arrive at the hotel and are on line to check in. You find yourself looking at your watch to time how long you wait online. You look to see if the people behind the front desk are wearing their nametags. In this case they are, but one is not exactly straight. You are tempted to straighten it after waiting four minutes for it to be your turn to check in. You get a warm welcome, but they didnít mention you or the hotel by name. You would have preferred they said ďWelcome to the FILL IN NAME OF HOTEL; we are delighted you are staying with us this week., Mr. & Mrs. SmithĒ You try to refocus on the fact that you are here on vacation. You tell yourself to turn it off; this isnít your hotel or your concern. Your significant other looks at you and asks whatís wrong. They can see the wheels turning in your head. You look at them and say, ďNothing at all dear. Letís get this vacation started!Ē

Then you walk towards the elevator; time to get on your swimsuit and hit the beach. Half way there you stop and pick up a wrapper you find on the floor and put it in your pocket. Again, you get one of those what-are-you-doing looks from your spouse. Itís the Hospitality Gene in effect once again. This insane attention to detail that haunts you when you are in a hotel, even if it isnít your own. One GM while on vacation said he actually held the door open on the elevator and asked another guest of the hotel if they are enjoying their stay. Their response was ďWhy, arenít you?Ē

Then on the beach you see someone dragging a chair closer to the water and stop them, offering to lend a hand and do it for them. You stop short of offering them a drink, asking how they heard about the resort, if they booked direct or through a third party (of course if they didnít book directly you want to know which channel they booked through and why).

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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.