The Importance of Teaching Future Hospitality Professionals about Guest Service

By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | June 10, 2012

Training the hospitality professional in guest service seems to be somewhat of a common sense concept that we all should apply in our hospitality establishments. We also do our best to find the best candidates that have the appropriate personalities and attitudes. Yet, training alone perhaps may not be sufficient. Additionally, it seems that there is a lack of truly demonstrating this skill (service) thoroughly. It seems that we need a bit more to execute the service element. Perhaps we need to reinforce it in meetings or on a one on one scale perhaps. Still, it seems that some of our employees do not get the overall concepts that are needed to own each moment of truth. That said why not put them through an education process, in addition to the training that you also may have for them?

You may ask "Why add education to my effective training plans?" Well, we should observe what each of these entail and what they may lack, so we understand what the relationship is between them and how by incorporating both can equal to an outstanding hospitality organization.

Hospitality Training overall and in guest service, connects more with what the expectations of certain tasks is performed, in a proper manner, to ensure that the brand is operating efficiently, thanks to standard operating procedures. There is a bit of technical terms being implemented and they are certainly customized to the respective organization. I am sure we are very well aware of what these are in our own establishments and certainly we see how much needed and valued training truly is.

Hospitality Educating brings to the table more of the theories and explanations as to why these procedures are put in place, and also explains them in a more macro sense, meaning to see the overall understanding of why a hotel, restaurant or service environment, operates in the manner in which they operate, from a more fundamental point of view. This, I observe, helps each individual, going through both education and training, to grasp the overall idea much better, than just having it observed in their particular place of work, or position. They also realize potential to seek out new opportunity in the organization, meaning a possible career. This is very positive to your establishment. I cannot begin to tell you how many hotel executives, mid manager and line level employees, find value and further career options once they add this piece of the puzzle to their professional portfolio. If the establishment invests in both the training and the education, you will find that the employee will be more loyal to the brand from a career standpoint. It will be harder for them to leave to work for the competitor, as they are educated valued team players.

In my initial experiences working in the front lines of several hotels and restaurants, for example, always had another backside to how employees were amongst each other, versus how they applied their service skills in a moment of truth (in relations to performing in front of the customer). I would hear negative comments on certain guests and their ways of being. I have found that those guests are like that for a particular reason and they do demonstrate justification and rationalization on what they may have a comment on, or a complaint. To simply not capturing that (from a hospitality professional's point of view) is something that can be detrimental to guest service scores, and repeat/referral business.

The solution that can expand on the experience of truly connecting with the employee and truly making them engaged in their role as a service and hospitality professional is to take the opportunity and time to educate them on what they are learning. Explain to them the "Why we do this?" in order to make it clear. I have found that employees are just told what to do, yet information (here is a communication issue right here) is absorbed differently. The reasons why are not given. They are not educated fully on the objective that they are given and they are lost. This creates that opportunity that will promote a sense of belonging. Your employees will understand better why we do certain things, say at the front desk, or when cleaning a room. If we simply tell a front desk agent to complete this checklist by a certain time, for example, one item can be, to do your call around list by 6pm, without further educating how this can impact yield/revenue management, simply becomes a task where the employee will sigh and just complain about how they need to call other hotels in the area to get occupancy and rate. If you educate them on how this is another technique that is used by management to determine what would be the best rate to position our property at for that evening (being that hotel rooms are a perishable item and we do "reset" each business day in a hotel), to ensure that we penetrate properly the market, and also have Intel to know how much we can charge walk in guests, for example, will let them know how critical that particular task is for them and the hotel. This will certainly help the bottom line.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.