How to Identify Hotel Superstars

By Ashish Modak General Manager, LUX* Belle Mare | December 03, 2017

A hotel team is a unique combination of various skill sets and different individuals who bring forth their unique identities and styles towards making a guest as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Hotels vary in their offerings, their architecture, the levels of service and brand appeal. However, the one thig that binds all hotels and resorts of whatever style and irrespective of their locations is the people who work for these hotels and breathe life in to those buildings and chandeliers which otherwise would have no meaning. I recently came across a new Bollywood release with a similar title as this essay. The title intrigued me and while I shall not go in to the theme and a synopsis of the movie here, the title got me thinking of who could be considered the secret superstars of the hotel industry – more specifically, in a hotel. Needless to say, when one thinks of hotels, one thinks of the front of house areas and the perfectly groomed smiles of the front desk, the beautifully made Flat-whites by the baristas and the creative geniuses of the chefs who conjure up magic for every new meal.

All the various operational departments of a hotel, no doubt ensure delightful stays for guests’ day in and day out. From a porter who welcomes every guest to the reception team leading up to the room valets and the waiters – everyone has a specific responsibility towards the hotel guests; one that they need to fulfill all the time. These team members are being tested in real time. They are on the stage and the show is always on. There is no off time when on the operational floor. Very often the hotel operations remind me of another movie “The Truman Show”. This Jim Carey movie presents a strong mantra for someone like me who looks at the hotel world from very close quarters. The learning for me as a hotel manager from this movie was clear and simple – “In hotel life, you are always on stage and on camera!” and how very true it is for all of the above job functions that I have mentioned.

But then a thought crosses my mind. Very often the front of house team members are the ones who get all the recognition and fame. These ladies and gentlemen who are in contact with guests walk away with their names on glory boards. But, are these the only ones who make a hotel what it is? An Opera performance is dependent definitely on the star performer; however, can one imagine of an Opera or a play without a 100% contribution of the light and sound technicians, the porters, the make-up artists? Is it not true that there is a strong support system which makes these job roles tick and assist them to be celebrated...? Is it not true that without the hidden gems and magicians in the support departments – the team in the front would never be there in the first place? Whom am I referring to? Yes, indeed the reference is to those hundreds of people who work in hotel support teams like Human Resources, Training, Accounts, Purchase and various other such administrative functions. Imagine a hotel without any of these support areas!

Would a hotel be ever successful without a strong accounting team? Right from processing the salaries on time for the celebrated Stars of the hotel, these secret superstars are involved in every back-end step that results in hotels performing like well-oiled machines. Imagine a hotel without a strong credit and debtor control mechanism. Imagine a hotel without a team duly and diligently looking at all the accounting procedures. Imagine a hotel world without a strong purchase and receiving department. The list of jobs performed at every stage in these areas is endless and each extremely crucial for a successful business operation. The Integrity and responsibility involved in the entire accounting, finance and cost control team is the backbone of the value of ethics and integrity that is so widely discussed in all forums in today’s times. For an analogy, running a hotel without these functions is like asking a cobbler to make a shoe without its sole. Like a sole is to a shoe or a soul is to the body, the finance team are the unsung heroes of this jigsaw called ‘hotel’!

Similar to the Finance department is the critical function of Human Resources. An area which is always belittled as a function as not being in sync with today’s requirements. Very often one finds the human resources function following outdated systems, policies and procedures and the team finding it difficult to sync with the needs of today. This is possibly the half-truth that is spread around venomously without understanding the why’s and what’s involved. The HR department is always trying to catch up with the changing times while sticking to the laws of the land they operate in. It is expected from this function to ensure local laws and expected norms are followed to the ‘T’ and all rules and regulations adhered to in totality.

It is also the natural expectation of every employee that his / her needs are fulfilled on priority and the moment the desired solution is not provided, the HR department is the black sheep in the organization. Here is what I would like to say to all those sincere, truthful and committed HR employees of the world – Continue what you are doing; you are the reason why all the others are working in hotels in the first place. A suggestion would be to bring in an element of innovation and creativity in what you put forth. Like the finance team, you are undoubtedly the secret superstars in the hotel world.

/ SLIDES

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Coming up in March 2018...

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.