Steve Jobs' Correlation with the Hotel Industry

By Ashish Modak General Manager, LUX* Belle Mare | January 03, 2016

I recently had the pleasure of reading a yet another book on Steve Jobs. Almost at the same time, I watched (during a training session at the hotel) the much-publicized address of his at the Stanford University commencement ceremony. Steve Jobs had summed up his address to the young students with a very simple and catchy phrase – Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish! Jobs shared three personal stories to illustrate the power of this phrase. Three personal stories that could connect with the entire audience and even today after more than a year of him leaving this world, this phrase and those three stories resonate with many.

Having reflected upon this address and the gist of a couple of books written on him that I have been fortunate to read, I find it compelling to share these stories with their relevance in the hospitality industry and with a couple of examples of what we have done at my hotel - LUX* Belle Mare here in Mauritius based on this very philosophy. It is a well-known fact that the hotel industry demands people with extraordinary passion and commitment. The question is – Is this enough to create the difference between an 'Also Ran and a Winner'? 

The difference to me lies in the rules laid down by Jobs through his beliefs. Lets look at the three key parts of his address to the students to reflect upon his philosophy, which made Apple what it is…

Learn to Connect the Dots

Using the example of his college days, his learning of calligraphy and its usage in the later years while designing Macintosh, Steve Jobs touched upon a very key mantra… Trust your guts; your belief, your inner voice. It is a fact that our inner voice talks to us. Many a times, we fail to listen to it carefully. Be it work pressures, formalities, hierarchical orders or any other reason, but inner voice is often stifled and only reflected upon at a later stage with a feeling of 'Only If'! In hotels, people who have learnt to believe in this principle have done wonders. These people have been the pioneers in the industry worldwide and their hotels and organisations have become trendsetters. From Hilton to Marriott, from Ritz to Oberoi - each hotel company has a story to share. A story seeped in belief in your inner voice, a belief in yourself and a belief born out of being very close to the customer. The CEO at LUX* Resorts & Hotels has been a mentor for me for many reasons. 

Having been in the industry for many years and having played a key role in the successful launch and operations of some very successful hotels in the world, Paul Jones is a live example of someone who knows what to go with and what not! LUX* Belle Mare – today a jewel on the east coast of Mauritius was a run down, tired hotel until Paul stepped in. A series of transformations followed. The whole process of transformation of the hotel culminated with a two - month closure for a total refurbishment. From rooms to public areas, from landscaping and lighting to training of the team; all aspects were worked upon resulting in a trendy, young at heart and a very special offering.

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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.