Archive for August, 2012

The Power of Thank You

Friday, August 17th, 2012

The next time you have a good service experience say thank you! The effect can be magical.

Call me old fashioned or maybe even fashionable these days, but you can decide once you take the following into consideration.  Business is tough enough without making waves, or so I am told, but when did saying ‘Thank You’ become so difficult for us to realize the most basic of common courtesies?  I know each day in the restaurants and hotels we visit,  I  continue to be amazed at the amount of different types of people I interface with and how I am greeted, spoken to (or not) and what happens when I initiate a conversation with them.  I know we are all busy and caught up with our own life and issues – but there is no excuse for not being personable or polite, as we in the ‘Hospitality Industry.’  When did Please, Thank You and Your Welcome go out of style or leave our daily vernacular? I have always believed a smile and simple polite greeting go a long way in our world and can make the difference.

Recently, I needed to make an airline reservation using a certificate I had, that could not be used or booked online, which in today’s digital age many of us utilize.  So I called the reservation number and waited in the cue for an agent to answer my call.  The agent introduced herself as Judy and referred to me by Mr. Nyman, I then asked her to please call me Robert, which she then ‘thanked me for’ and continued to address me by my first name.  We finalized all of my reservation needs, then Judy thanked me for my business and then I thanked her for assisting me.  Before we both said goodbye, she asked if she could tell me something, she stated I was one of the few customers who took their time to say thank you in return!

It got me thinking; something I have always done and we continually train our clients’ staff to do is to thank the guest, but now I realize that is only half of the equation. When do we as restaurant and hotel guests thank the people who are taking care of us for the work they do, especially when they go out of their way to be helpful, polite or as some say the ‘extra mile?’

My challenge is to change the persona of the Hospitality Industry and our guests/customers and make it a two way street, or should I say make it into a full equation.  Just like we didn’t say the phase ‘you know’ as an answer or comment when we were speaking to someone, until just a few years ago, maybe the words Please, Thank You and Your Welcome could become as prevalent in our business again as most of us were raised to say them.

In every pre-shift meeting you have with your staff, instead of just talking to the team, maybe use please to preface a request and when a staff member offers a comment, say thank you and maybe they will even start to say you’re welcome – if you start the ball rolling.  If you’re in a hotel and walking the guest room hallways, and see a housekeeper or maintenance person, a quick greeting and thank you, will most likely make their day, as they are one of the areas of the hotel that guests seem typically not to verbally acknowledge or get a simple greeting.  When you have your management or executive team assembled, make it a ‘brand standard’ to address each other with please versus just talking at one another and then a sincere thank you at the end of each conversation.  At the end of a shift or if a person is leaving for the day, rather than just say goodbye, go around and personally thank each team member and maybe they will do the same for their fellow workers or better yet  for your guests!

This might all sound corny to some of you, but remember, we are trying to change the perception and attitude for each and every person who dines in your restaurants, stays in your hotels, uses or buys your products but it will take some time, and if we learn to address each other first with common courtesy, it will become contagious.  Or just call me old fashioned and call it a day.


[Read on Original Source]

Thinking Different

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

If you want to be perceived differently than your competitors, well then, you better do things different! Here’s how.

Working with hospitality companies over the years has taught our team to always expect the unexpected; regarding ideas, opinions, egos and random thoughts on the way a program or project might unfold, regardless of what it is supposed to work like on paper.

Try as we might, and we do, to keep the development process moving forward, sometimes it gets sidetracked.  We typically set up outlines and overviews to remind the project team of what our end goal is supposed to be, regardless of the stops and starts, opinions and sometime tantrums of individuals on the project team.  We coined the term, ‘Dream Period’ decades ago so that we didn’t hamper the thought and creative process of the team and everyone involved and would always look for the best option or solution for the program.  Many times we travel with clients and other project professionals and always kept an open mind to their ideas and ideals, along with a good dose of humility, when we realize that everything has a place and time, not necessarily all together though.

In my recent business travels I was fortunate to visit several different hotels in Europe, all with different levels of service and hospitality.  Being familiar with many different brands, their standards and the competitive set was helpful in realizing if a hotel was living up to their potential, through their product and room offering, or not.  Many hotel brands like to talk and advertise about their benefits, but sometimes the program that sounds good on paper, is less desirable and effective in the actual guest experience.

The hotels of this particular brand of which I stayed at on several nights, lacked consistency and vigor; from the check-in process to the guest and room experience, there was no esprit de corps with the service aspect or the food and beverage programs.  When asked about my experiences by my associates, I could only think of what could have been, and how it could be improved, with some forward thinking, attention to the details, putting oneself in the guest’s position and offering the type of experience that is advertised by the brand and the actual lack of value for the price being paid.

I was most interested to stay in a competitive and a new hotel concept which exemplified an ‘Outside of the Box’ experience.  From the check-in, room product, food and beverage program and service standards, it was nothing like I have ever experienced in the past.  I had heard about this particular hotel, and wanted to visit and learn all about the operation as it had been recommended to me by an associate, who gave it high marks for delivery on the product promise.  From a friendly welcome by a staff member to individual access to a central kiosk that controlled the entire property via touch screen computer, I was able to either be anonymous, or enjoy the human touch of the experience.  The computer gave me a choice of rooms, view, etc. and even offered up city and dining recommendations, along with identifying my charges and pre-paying breakfast options.  My room was as advertised, more like a cabin on a mid-level cruise ship that fit my expectations and gave me the necessary creature comforts that most business and leisure travelers are looking for; cleanliness, safety, Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, great bed and comforter, etc.

The food & beverage operation which functioned more like a free-standing restaurant was a gathering space for hotel and outside guests, that had a central bar counter, that was the turnstile of the concept.  During the main part of the day and evening it was a combination of self service and ‘grab & go’ with staff assistance and in the morning the breakfast offering was with a Full English Breakfast or choice of a la carte.  There were various different seating experiences from the Living Room to the Lounge area. The entire hotel and food & beverage operation at any given time of day was controlled by a staff of three ‘Ambassadors’ that could manage the property and attend to guests’ needs and requests.  The hotel didn’t have the traditional barriers that we sometimes see in some hotel operations, but certainly excelled on hospitality and product; just thinking and going about it in a different way than some might be used to doing things.  Interesting, was that I found out that the majority of the staff was chosen for their attitude versus their previous job experience, as I was told, “you can’t teach a person to be happy and/or helpful” they either have it or they don’t.  After what must have seemed too many questions, I found out the person who was serving me my late night glass of wine, was considered the hotel manager or ‘Main Ambassador’ although he blanched at being named the person in charge.  He explained that the hotel was like a home away from home for most guests and that was the appeal, which they realized that people would be happy with a friendly personal experience, fewer choices and rules and more about hospitality than too much structure.  Each Ambassador was cross trained in all areas and aspects of the hotel, from making a bed to assisting and servicing a guests needs, each task was equal in the total guest experience and satisfaction.  It seems that my questions and comments were no different than most, first timer guests to the hotel, although I was told the next morning at breakfast by another Ambassador that many of the return guests become members of the family and look at the concept as coming to a friends home for a visit, or as she said just throwing away those preconceived notions of what should be and ‘Thinking Outside of the Box’.

[Read on Original Source]