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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

Service as usual? Or will we learn from the lockdowns?

Might sound a little provocative but long before the Corona panic stopped us cold the complains that great service was hard to be found anymore were getting more and more.

Self-service was the best way to ensure you get a fast proper meal & drink without having to rely on slow service, understaffed restaurants and more unwanted contact with unskilled waiters. Starbucks taught us that its the best and charged a little more. MacDonalds is teaching our children.

Now that would be a problem for only those establishments?

No it is a problem that crawled into hotel and restaurant chains as cutting on service was the only wisdom management could come up with to save cost. Cut cost - cut the service for your guest. Looks good on paper - the monthly report - but is a sad sight on stage. On the hotel stage - where we perform great service for our guests.

“Replicating intimate service on a mass scale is an inherently implausible goal—and when applied to the world’s 16,500 posh hotels, the mission has led to an arms race of obsequity. Once hotels competed through their facilities: first came shampoo bottles, then ergonomic mattresses, flat-screen TVs and spas. Now they jostle to engineer “emotional touch points” and “wow moments” with guests.

(A short history of hotels - Be my Guest, Economist print-edition icon Print edition | Christmas Specials)

Restaurants that value the guest ( in person not on trip advisor) have a connection that results in repeat business and thus profits. Seeing the guest only as a number will reduce the numbers of guest you will see.

“If industrial hotels do not have an emotional connection with their guests, can they manufacture one? This hope is behind the modern cult of service. Yet perfect service is a slippery elixir: branding gurus speak in tongues to describe it; hospitality professors crunch regression equations to capture it and every hotel chain swears it is what makes them unlike all the others.”

Some elements are quantifiable. For example, the best hotels often have long-serving staff (the average tenure at the Bangkok Mandarin Oriental is 14 years) and a happy atmosphere.

(A short history of hotels - Be my Guest, Economist print-edition icon Print edition | Christmas Specials)

At the end service was the same everywhere - the same non - existent. Of course there are great exceptions and that gives hope the reason to worry is that there are getting less and less. Now Corona stopped us and it would be a good time to re think and to win guest back not only on great food and gorgeous cocktails but on great service. Otherwise it will be all the same.

Unless I see a brand sign on the door I can’t tell the difference,” one hotel boss himself admits.

(A short history of hotels - Be my Guest, Economist print-edition icon Print edition | Christmas Specials, Dec 21st 2013)

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality and the Swiss International University earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.,

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