The wisdom of hospitality CEO’s!
More then a thousand CEO’s answered PwC’s latest survey but the findings seem to indicate that these CEO’s are business / financial managers with little or no deep understanding of hospitality as such. The ideas, prediction and wishes would benefit the hospitality sector but the actions observed show a different picture. The conclusion in PwC’s summary offers this ideas and solutions by CEO’s for the near future:
Modernize the service offering:
Hire high-touch-oriented employees
Implement the latest technology
All of this three make sense to all of us but are critically seen by many. Are companies really ready to invest? Are they doing something or are CEO’s just voicing their wishes?
Hire high touch oriented employees
Great idea but the hospitality industry and especially the big brands should develop, educated, produce this employees. From where to hire when for the last decades exactly this companies moved to ever cheaper un educated labor to please the bottom line and advance in their career – only?
PwC survey:” To overcome some of these issues, hotels must begin to pay higher wages, which will go a long way toward recruiting staff who view hospitality as a legitimate career path and not a stopgap before they get a better-paying job."
In a recent podium discussion CEO’s from the big brands came to the conclusion that more immigrants and more cheap labor is need. How does this work together? The old saying: “- if you think a professional is expensive – wait until you hire an amateur” , will maybe be a topic in PwC’s 2025 survey. If we are lucky!
PwC survey: “improving employee-to- customer interaction by automating as many guest activities as possible—from self-service check-in and checkout to lights and curtains controlled by apps—freeing up staff to be prepared to immediately”
Well as discussed many times before it will not result in employees having more free time to attend to customers. With the current mindset initiated by these CEO’s the manager will have to notice this staff “doing nothing” and cut the head count.
Modernize the service offering & Implement the latest technology
To modernize service offerings the recommendations are robots, 24 hrs. snacks and open work & leisure spaces. Besides the robots all these could be observed in hotels since they exist. They have been cut in order to cut cost and unfortunately services. Implementing the latest technologies should be a given just to stay up to date. Implementing the newest technologies will also – as could be observed in the past up to now – result in cutting service staff, thus cost, thus service.
Creating a distinctive experience
PwC survey: ”But much more devastating to hotels is that their rooms are becoming commodities. As long as reviews are generally positive across platforms, many guests believe that a room in one hotel is the same as another room in a different hotel.”
This was answered very good by David Eisen in one of his 2017 articles.:
"Offering an experience has become the de facto battle cry of the hotel industry. But it begs the question: If every hotel is offering an experience, then hasn’t the experience become commoditized?
Also David Eisen was more then confused by the CEO’s vision of service and experience:
“a CEO of a brand, kept saying over and over that a great experience is all about great customer service. -- The future of luxury is less about product and more about experience. Less services and more experience.”
David Eisen| Oct 25, 2017 3:26pm
What? More service? Less service with experience?
Another scary quote from the PwC report:
“it isn’t surprising that the ability to create brand awareness campaigns that feel like one-on-one communication with potential customers—that is, campaigns that speak directly to customers’ preferences and desires—has always been a keystone of success for H&L companies. But recently, for many parts of the hospitality and leisure industry, that connection to consumers has frayed.”
Yes – that is not surprising if you just concentrate on one word in this sentence: that feel like one-on-one communication. Your customer is not so stupid to not be able to distinguish between a honest real sincere one and one communication and one that was created to make you feel that you have a one on one communication. Simple isn’t? Maybe something for the 2025 survey too.
What is needed and I am sure all of this thousand CEO’s would agree is more innovation and creativity. They don’t know how but the wish for it as much as they wish for the perfect employee that they did not develop. To say it with Bob Puccini from his article “Why can’t hotel companies innovate?”
Where are the hoteliers of today who are thinking about the ideas we are not thinking of? I can tell you they don’t work for the big brands.
5/3/2017 BOB PUCCINI
Bob Puccini, founder, Puccini Group, San Francisco
To be fair also PwC realized:
“In fact, although many hotels are automating and digitizing back-office and administrative tasks, too often this is done in an attempt to reduce headcount as opposed to hiring staffers in customer-facing roles. That strategy may provide short-term gains, but in the long run could reduce customer bookings. “
PwC’s survey: “Hotel companies that make the right decisions about the services they offer—and that apply technology and skilled staff to provide these services at a high level — may find that connecting directly to customers and forging an ongoing relationship with them need not be a thing of the past after all. “
Here PwC has all my support. If you can’t innovate, be creative look at least back to the pas, admit your mistakes and go back to the good things that were offered without only short term profit in mind.
Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA.
Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.