Emergence of New Trends in Guest Services

By Adrian Kurre Global Head, Homewood Suites & Home2 Suites by Hilton | March 09, 2014

Earlier in my career, I spent some time on the food and beverage side of the hospitality business. A former manager once told me the golden rule of food and beverage: "Serve hot food hot. Serve cold food cold. And do it with a smile."

It is a simple notion that makes a big difference for guests. But its straightforwardness belies a deeper complexity – applicable beyond food and beverage – that we need to continually address across the hospitality industry: delivering on our promises and creating an excellent experience for guests at every step. The reality, as we all know, is the research, the testing, and the partnership with all the stakeholders that create that experience is far from simple.

When it comes to fulfilling our promise to our stakeholders, every hotel brand goes through the usual motions – every few years, we make an upgrade to a property here or there. We switch up the shampoo and conditioner offering; strike a partnership deal with a relevant brand; update our logo. We make incremental changes. The true opportunity is to ensure each change, no matter how small, connects with the entire experience we aim to create for our customers.

Incrementalism is no longer enough. Guests expect more, and rightly so. Their preferences are changing. As choices expand, brand loyalty is more important than ever and harder to win (and keep winning every time).

To meet the moment, hotel brands must think and act for the long term, embracing the complexity and uncertainty of our category.

At Hilton Garden Inn, we've adopted a roadmap, called 'Flourish', that's as much brand strategy as it is a mindset that provides direction and context for everything we do. We use it as a filter to help us make decisions about what's right for guests and to help our general managers, owners, and our entire hotel teams deliver a highly relevant, highly memorable experience and, most importantly, deliver on our promises.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.