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  • Stephan Busch

Standard Operating Procedures are a clear & present danger in hospitality

Wishing to make it perfect is the beginning that leads to disaster! Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) explain exactly how, what and when to do to provide perfect service. Be it in housekeeping, in the restaurant or in the kitchen and reception. The idea is certainly nice, but we often forget that we work with people who work for people who are anything but perfect.

SOPs are certainly good for explaining work processes, but there are also recipes for cooking and if you give the same recipe to 10 cooks, 10 dishes will still come out that taste and look different. It's the same with SOPs. At BMW on the assembly line, it works in such a way that 10 different models don't come out but that's the difference between hospitality and production.

More important to us than the perfect work process, which I believe doesn't even exist, is that everything looks perfect in the end, the guest is satisfied and the staff doesn't work themselves dizzy.

In the hotel and catering industry, we swing from small to large catastrophes and we smile at the same time, even if we don't know exactly why at the moment. In the end everything went well again (at least nobody noticed anything else) and the guest is satisfied.

But when we pick up all these SOPs and go through the day again, we look pretty old! In principle we understood everything, but in order to achieve our goal we had to deviate a little from the course, creatively stretch the rules to the point of breaking them and omit one or the other task completely because it would have stood in our way without bringing the guest any advantages.

The hotels and restaurants that remain unforgettable for us are those where maybe not everything was perfect, but we only remember it well and actually only want to come back. That's is because of the people where the SOP's are probably a bit dusty on the shelf but who have understood and live true hospitality.

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 Moscow as well as the Swiss International University St. Petersburg.

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