Will we change and offer excellent service again?
Service on a wide scale is often not expected anymore as more and more people are already happy once they receive any service at all. There are still Hotels and Restaurants that never stopped delivering excellent service. To offer it on a wide scale again is a change that will have to come from the top and from the bottom.
Looking at the Restaurant sector there are many fantastic concepts and there are always innovative people coming up with new ideas. In the Hotel sector the best in service are the small and often independent hotels. They offer local, customized, personalized service not because they invented this as a new concept. They can offer this because this is what they truly are and always were.
From the big hotel chains we can unfortunately not hope for much innovation when it comes to excellent service. Technical and digital innovations for sure as they have the financial power but for being truly able to offer personalized service the have simply grown to big. They have to rely on SOP’s to control their empires which limits them already. For new ideas, concepts and innovations to brake through and being implemented they have to go through layers of corporate offices and approvals. Innovation dies slowly on the way.
Train & coach excellence again
It shows when it comes to Hotel Restaurants. Outsourcing the restaurant space is a way to get a safe income on the balance sheet by collecting the rent and not to worry about the F&B related costs. It always amazes me when I see a wonderful successful outsourced restaurant concept in a five star chain hotel. There are many! With all their manpower, all the financial advantages, all the logistical support available could the hotel not come up with a concept like this?
We have to continue to train and coach young people to understand what excellent service is, how it can be delivered and maintained. We have to work on the reputation of the professions and have to manage the benefits better.
A path to success
All hospitality professions should be attractive again when it comes to showing a path to a successful career. Why do we need more certificates or an MBA or PhD nowadays to get into management? The possibilities for a hard working individuals with the right attitude and willingness to learn to make there way up were multiple in the past. The way up from bellboy to GM was a possibility.
Why do we have so many GM’s with F&B background but so few from Housekeeping? A Chief Housekeeper able to manage a multi national workforce and the multiple challenges of this department has what it takes to manage an entire hotel. The additional relevant knowledge of the other hotel function can be learned the same way the F&B person has to do it.
To learn again to provide excellent service to our guest we should look a little bit back. The times when we did not have all the devices on hand that we use now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them. This look back should not bring us back in time . We have to go forward and under no circumstances ignore or avoid the innovations, the advantages that our digital world of today provides. They are necessary, and good to make life easier , more convenient for our guest and us.
Tools should support humans
But at a time when all this tools were not available service depended only on the human members of staff. Coaching, learning by experience made them perfect when it came to service technique and etiquette. They also could read guest, adapt to difficult situations, had a memory of guests and their behavior which they gave on to the younger ones. Serving the guest best and up selling in the restaurant was taught in stages. Remember what the guest preferred, adjust to his mood of the day, to the company he is in today and to all the influences that may change guest behavior. For new guest: Read the guest, judge the behavior, dress code, is he alone or with what group of people? Consider time of the day, rushed or does he look like he has time? Business or leisure? A lot of questions that after a while you could answer faster and faster. And the better you got the easier the job was, the more satisfied the guest was. And still the old long staying employees could surprise you and show you another twist.
Combine this with the tools that we have today on hand and service can be perfect. Unfortunately we neglected the human part and rely more on tools. The guest is still human, it is us who became more robotic. For hotel chains with more than 1 Million rooms and thousands of properties spread all over the world it is the only way to rely more on devices, tools, technique and SOP’s to be able to manage. They have to rely on Marketing phrases like “exceeding guest expectations”, “the Experience”, and the “Wowing” of guest. There were times when we made this happen to guest without having to brag about it.
This leads unfortunately to the younger Generations growing up in an environment that makes them believe it is the only way. Hotel business is hard and demanding and without the human touch it will never be satisfying. This in turn gives the hope that entrepreneurs will discover this possibility for themselves and continue what still exist in a small niche and open it again for a wider audience. The new generations are the ones that we should encourage to become those entrepreneurs.
The lack of drive
“The shocking complacency and lack of drive to change these circumstances is surprising, as the new generations display an enormous sense for values, real mission and a desire to make a difference. They are a significant indication for the future highlighting what both employees and guests will expect. And yet too many people refuse to make changes. They prefer silent executors as opposed to proactive initiative taking team members.”
(13) The shocking truth about todays Hotel industry! Dirk Dalichau, Published on July 25, 2016
Most important is to always keep in mind that we have to do it for the guest. Our benefits will follow. The guest has more options today than ever and will explore, learn and be more educated also when it comes to excellent service. The Guest will demand more and better service and we should be ready to deliver.