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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

Did we learn something? Hospitalty & Tourism trying to recover!

Fortunately, there is positive news from the world of tourism again. Guests are traveling again, restaurants and bars are filling up, cruise ships are cruising again and parties are no longer condemned in panic as super spreader events, but celebrated as it should be.

Only - have we really learned something?

New trends that are described and ideas of how and what we should improve often miss the point or would not help the hotel industry to recover. The situation today after Corona, the existing inflation, rising prices and the changed geopolitical situation requires changes from us and we certainly have to adapt, but we should think a little beforehand. We didn't do everything wrong before, so we shouldn't change everything either. What I miss the most is the fact that quality and service are rarely or only marginally mentioned. Quality and service are always on our mind? No! They weren't long before Corona and still aren't. But quality and service is what we should offer in the hospitality and tourism. The guest will thank us.

Keep your distance and more hygiene. Really?

Hygiene and cleanliness should always have been the mark of a good hotel and restaurant. This is certainly a basic rquirement that every guest expects. Those who didn't think much of cleanliness before Corona have hopefully gone broke. Keeping our distance from other people cannot help us either. There are suggestions to continue to offer fewer seats and to keep more distance between guests. Anyone who has ever tried to make a profit in the catering trade rightly thinks that is nonsense. Banquets, parties and events live from people who want to come together. A full restaurant, a full bar, a full concert offer the atmosphere that many guests have missed.

During the Corona times, the hotels (if they were allowed to be open) offered instead of service a set of strict rules that contradicted any idea of ​​cleanliness and hygiene.

Rooms were not cleaned daily (very hygienic and the burned out lightbulb was ignored on top of it).

The restaurant and bars were closed so that every guest had to buy their pizza outside, which resulted in mountains of rubbish in the hotel corridors and in the rooms. Garbage was very rarely cleared away because the risk of infection was huge. Some cockroaches who lived elsewhere must have understood this as an invitation to move in.

The rules that applied during Corona should be forgotten as soon as possible - no guest will miss them and if they still see or feel traces of them somewhere, they will certainly not like to remember them.

Self-service at the buffet?

Unfortunately it's everywhere again. A really quickly served breakfast (without the annoying list of questions that unfortunately seems to be programmed into some waiters) perfectly replaces every buffet that is anyway trashed with a spit glass or without. Unfortunately, the good employees - the ones that could offer this service - were fired as quickly as possible during Corona and discovered that stocking up supermarket shelves allow for better working hours and is also paid. So I guess I can forget my breakfast service for now.

Returning to good service will be a long, hard road

Service will continue to suffer from wage costs, the unwillingness of staff to work at all in the catering and hotel industry under poor conditions and the insecurity of many employees who were often ruthlessly thrown out on the street and certainly do not want to experience that again.

What we should have learned

What we should have learned is that cleanliness and hygiene are still an important figurehead even without having to hide our staff in Martian suits and behind masks.

That we shouldn't treat our staff like interchangeable numbers, but like people we enjoy working with. Up until the devastating Corona measures, things went well even if you treated the staff like cheap servants. After Corona, however, those treated in this way did not return. Good ! I hope that was a lesson for some, but I don't really believe it yet. The first plantation owner attitudes can already be observed again.

Dealing with finances is very important. Profit margins have always been thin in hospitality, but during the last crisis, some ran out of breath after a week.

Employees over 60 are valuable

Everyone noticed that after it suddenly became empty in the staff canteen. They have always been valuable and good hoteliers have always taken care of their veteran employees. A cook, a waiter, a maid do a physically very hard job and at some point the joints crack too loudly. Of course, a large hotel chain sorts out something like this immediately and replaces it with young, motivated, clueless people. The good hoteliers use the knowledge and experience of long-term employees to train new staff and, more importantly, to maintain guest contact. I think that's also called motivation, but the word is often only used by the young clueless (who then also become managers) in "meetings" without grasping the meaning.

We are on the right track only since the financial crisis of 2008, the pandemic panic and the geopolitical shifts worldwide we should watch more critically what comes next and be ready to react faster and better. We should take the qualities of the past to heart again.

Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in the hospitality industry ranging from senior management positions with the most renowned hotel and resort companies to the project development - launch of operations, business development- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.

His expertise includes not only planning, opening and operating of hotels, international golf clubs, airports, resorts and cruise ships, but also successful restructuring and repositioning of businesses during the financial crisis in Asia.

Stephan Busch earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA and served many years as Academic Director / Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism at the State University for Humanities RGGU as well as the Swiss International University.

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