Wake Up and Smell the Next Downturn Brewing

By Steven Belmonte CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC | January 06, 2010

I've been working in the hospitality industry since I was a teenager, so I've had a lot of time to observe it and figure out how to succeed in it-and how not to. Over the years I've identified an ever-present barrier to success that always seems to keep us from maximizing our profits. It's a part of the human condition that affects us all, but we never seem to realize it until after the fact.

This barrier is our tendency to have short memories.

It's said that we have no memory for pain, and I suppose it's true. How else, for example, could women give birth more than once? How else could we survive the painful task of uprooting our family and moving them from a place we call home to some other place, many of us several times? A short memory might be a plus in instances like these-but it's always a negative when it comes to the hotel business.

You read the trades, talk to fellow hoteliers, make the conference circuit and hear all the good news. Times are good right now. Rates are up, occupancy is up, RevPAR is up, it's all turned around from the doldrums of recent years and everybody's happy: Your creditors are happy, your lender is happy, and best of all, you're happy. You're making more money, you're playing more golf and you're taking bigger and better vacations.

Life is good-and if you listen to most industry pundits, it's going to get even better. It won't be long before you'll be able to do the things you've been putting off . . . like trading up to that Lexus, building your dream house, maybe even buying or building your next hotel. Talk about Heaven on earth, right? And isn't it about time?

Actually, it's about time to wake up from that dream.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.