How to Keep Hospitality Entertaining

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | December 30, 2018

The passionate airline pilot loves soaring above the clouds, savoring the feeling of power and freedom from our home planet's strong pull. However, when "on the job," she or he must attend to a long, prescribed protocol of pre-flight, takeoff, in-flight and landing procedures and responsibilities. It takes knowledge, experience and attention to detail, as well as being able to react at a moment's notice to a "change in flight plans," to safely and productively navigate to one's destination.

Similarly, in operating a hotel, our staff must attend to what is a complex list of mandated policies and procedures, not to mention record keeping and having to manage a tremendous flow of information. The tasks can come fast and furious at times. No matter the job description or level of our organization.

Moreover, caring for our guests takes a subtle blend of these technical skills, along with a keen understanding of human nature and a genuine interest in making someone's stay as accurate, comfortable and rewarding as possible. When done well, our capabilities and motivation are proudly on display.

However, as we are often reminded in life, all work and no play can dull the edges of that pride and motivation. There are many ways to break up the routine of hospitality, while at the same time reinforcing a sense of teamwork, involvement with community and, in a gentle way, instilling a healthy sense of competition. This article will explore ways to keep hospitality entertaining without going overboard, especially for those good people who serve our guests-reinforcing the clear vision that "it's fun to be in this career field."

Our Many Audiences

Whether we are interacting with guests, brand partners, vendors and suppliers, local business people or the community as a whole, working in hospitality is interwoven with the experience we create for these constituencies or audiences. In particular, this is a principle that we hear discussed more and more these days with respect to a wide range of guests. This means everyone from young adult business or leisure guests wanting their company's or their own travel dollars to yield more than a room, with or without a view, to seniors who don't mind some coddling and a watchful eye on our part making sure that everything is OK.

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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.