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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, October 29, 2008

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Defining Hospitality - Readers Respond with their Insights

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By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS
October 29, 2008

Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes
with the wind and sometimes against it -- but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.    

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history 

I recently shared my definitions of the word HOSPITALITY in a column published in this service and asked readers to contribute their definitions.   The response was very positive and I am pleased to share a sampling of the responses from a diversity of people and places.

Defining Hospitality 

My original article included personal and professional reflections as follows:  

  • Hospitality is much more than a word today. It has become an industry that runs the danger of becoming too high tech, with too little high touch. 
  • Hospitality should have many adjectives, but many of us cannot precisely define it. 
  • Hospitality means providing service to others, yet not being cast as a servant. 
  • Adjectives that should apply to Hospitality include: Attentive, courteous, amiable, cordial, agreeable, gracious and welcoming. 
  • Hospitality also means demonstrating consistent excellence and quality in people skills (staff and guests), product and ambiance. It should also mean profitably providing value and worth at any price level, while demonstrating your own unique points of distinction. 
  • Hospitality should be smiles, trust, caring and sharing your operation’s success, regardless of you job title. 
  • Most of all, Hospitality should be a “place”, where people can still be exceptional individuals, where they can extend their own personality and style. 
  • Hospitality  is a place and a feeling where one can build their own self-esteem and pride, by providing positive memories and experiences to our guests.
Reader input came in from many different people. There were definitions from people relatively new to the industry and from seasoned veterans.  Some were individual operators and others who managed companies and multiple brands.  There were educators and there were those who supported the industry.

Enjoy their reflections and definitions of Hospitality. 

A shared definition from a relatively new Director of Sales and Catering and one of his sales managers

Hospitality is “Providing your guest with the same amount of attention and service as you would expect if you were in their shoes.”    - Jed Arrogante  Director of Sales and Catering and Angela Hueth , Sales Manager - The Westgate Hotel, San Diego, California 
From a resource that works with many family owned hotels and companies
“When it comes to hospitality my thoughts drift toward Marriott.  Based upon my travels of 23 years plus throughout the United States of America, Europe, Scandinavian countries, Caribbean Islands, etc., the following are  my thoughts on hospitality.  Hospitality is   – To be invited and made to feel genuinely welcomed and relaxed. To be treated with a disposition of cordiality, reception and support. To be professionally guided by the host to meet and exceed the guest’s expectations.   -  Mike Henning, Founder and President Henning Family Business Center, Effingham, IL


From a lifetime career hotelier who operates in multiple locations and continents

“Hospitality is being a Service provider. A Hotelier taking care of their guests is like a Doctor treating, caring, comforting and thinking about the well being of their patients.  - Manhar P. (M.P.) Rama, CHA,  Chief Operating Officer  JHM Hotels, Greenville, SC


From an industry professional now in academia:

“For me Hospitality is defined as "self discovery."  This might sound trite, but it is based on the tenet that as humans we need other people who allow us to discover our strengths and weaknesses.  So, hospitality provides the medium for us to explore different places, culture and things.”  - Jennifer Calhoun MBA, CHE,  Assistant Professor/Director, Hospitality and Tourism Institute (HTI),  Prince George's Community College,  Largo, Maryland  
From a professional who has worked with a major hotel brand in support services, central reservations delivery and as liaison between hotel owners and the brand:
“To me, hospitality is about exuding warmth....genuine care....an innkeeper showing pride and sincere offering of their "space"...Me casa su casa.”   -  Shannon Evans, Manager, Strategic Planning, Phoenix AZ
From a well known and established training resource
“Hospitality is treating others with warmth and generosity, authentically! “ - Doug Kennedy, President and Founder, Kennedy Training Network, Hollywood, FL
From an International Executive Search Group
“Hospitality requires a Passion for serving”  - Phillip Alfus , President and CEO, The Alfus Group, , New York, NY
From a franchisor
Here is the definition of Hospitality I generally use: “Hospitality is providing outstanding hotels with exceptional associates, for ecstatic guests and delivering defined optimum results in profitability to the owners and investors.”  - Ramesh Gokal, CHA President & COO VISTA INNS  Murfreesboro, TN 
From a leading educator at one of the largest hospitality programs anywhere with multiple campuses and specialties:
“I have been teaching this subject for a number of year and find that people try to put it in a small box.  I suggest and finally have resolved to use the following: Hospitality – The care and feeding, and their supporters who care, for people away from home. This really does expand the skills and knowledge of where our students may eventually find themselves - Vast areas that many may not have thought that really belongs to hospitality.  Originally, I used just the Care of Feeding of People away from Home.  I have since amended it to include those  people who are the suppliers, association groups etc.  –  An interesting exercise is to divide groups of students into their areas of interest- hotel- food- Travel and tourism- and Sports, event and meetings-  Let them then define the different aspect, segmentation etc. and when finished put it all on the board.  Most students have never thought their options were so vast or that the skills and knowledge and attributes we teach are transferable across all of these options. “ - Caroline A. Cooper, CHA, Ed.D, Executive Director, Business & Hospitality Relations, Johnson and Wales University, Providence, RI .  Dr. Cooper is also the current chair of the AH&LA Educational Institute’s Certification Commission.
From a European based industry consultant:
“As your article leads to express, there may be many definitions of Hospitality. Some may be more meaningful to the customer; some other, more meaningful to the professional. I wish to contribute with a couple, addressed to the professionals: Hospitality is to create a working atmosphere that empowers and motivates "front liners" to furnish guests with a memorable experience. Hospitality may be obtained by creating a wise combination of three crucial elements: a well conceived architecture in the largest sense; the design of an operational concept that may fulfill all expectations; and a human factor with the attitude and proven aptitudes to deliver excellence. “ - Jean-Claude Koster, CHA, EHL, Président, Koster Associates, Consultants to the hospitality Industry, Madrid - Spain
From several global hoteliers in property management

From South Korea:

Here is my (quick) definition of Hospitality:
H = home: the original ‘Public House’ was exactly that: a house where the inn-keeper welcomed  strangers to stay with him: at a (fair) rate 
O = openness: a place where one is welcomed with openness: genuine and caring
S = secure: where you are ensured that you can indeed sleep without a worry
P = peaceful: in order to be refreshed upon departure
I = intelligent: a place where they have given your stay more than a good thought
T = trust: the re-assurance that you are ‘not taken for a ride’
A = able: where there are ‘able’ men (and women) there to serve you
L = listen: where one is being listened to
I = informative: where you can gather news and information as well as share it
T = together: in the sharing warmth of other travelers and providers
Y = YOU: are our Number One: the Guest  - 
Jean Keijdener, Country General Manager, Executive Office, Somerset Palace, Seoul, South Korea 
From Myanmar
1. Hospitality means patient listening and understanding of people’s feeling and desire.
2. Hospitality is no religion, no nationality and no border.                
      - Zay Ya  Min Din,  Managing Director  Amazing Hotels and Resorts,  Yan Yangon,  Myanmar
From Kenya
“I would like to agree with your definitions of hospitality.  My definition is simple - it is the offering of kind reception, accommodation and entertainment to a stranger, a friend or a partner in business”.  -  David Opele, Intercontinental Hotel,  Nairobi, Kenya
From China 
“Greetings from the Ancient City of China, Xi’an. My definition for hospitality will be “providing local knowledge to our customers”,” gracious good bye”, “knowing the culture of each individual”.  - Jim Khoo, General Manager, Holiday Inn Xi'an Greenland Century City (Pre-opening Office), West High-tech Development Zone , Xian ,  PR China
From a recent international hospitality school graduate
One can notice that hospitality may have two different meanings. The first one from the point of view of the guest and the second one from the point of view of the service provider or the so called the server. A guest would define 'hospitality' as a process which takes place in a hotel, restaurant etc. where he/ she receives' a service that is beyond his/ her expectations. However on the other hand a server may define 'hospitality' as a simple process in which they can impress the guests without putting one's life in danger. For example if a server just smiles when he/ she serving the guests he/ she can count himself/ herself in the good books of the guests.   -  Utsav Arora, Graduate of International Hotel Management Institute,  Lucerne, Switzerland. He is currently living in India and planning to open a restaurant there. 
From a career professional serving the industry as a sales resource and trainer for several major brands:  
"Hospitality necessitates an ongoing humility from us, the practitioners. It requires our natural instincts of being right to become deferential to our guests and our prospects. To these people, it should convey a feeling of safety from a physical AND an emotional perspective. Hospitality is the reason my business card is replete with all lower case letters out of respect to the capital letters in my life (my clients)."  - ed. iannarella, president, stonehenge consulting group  lancaster, pa.   relocating to Ft Myers, FL late 2008 
From their web sites 
At Renard, customer service is not a "Department" it's an "Attitude"!    - Sylvia Menezes, Senior Consultant RENARD INTERNATIONAL HOSPITALITY SEARCH CONSULTANTS  Toronto, Ontario , Canada 

Fundamentals of Resort Hospitality: Delivering Welcome-Home Ambiance | “Managing resorts is really about creating incredible experiences. It’s ensuring every owner and guest enjoys special moments, high-touch service, and quality vacation time. Resort management does encompass budget, reserve funds, board management, and all the other back-office functions that are integral to success. But you can have it all and still not deliver the hospitable environment that creates and maintains your relationships with your team members, customers, and owners. Front-line team members make or break your hospitality. Service is all about actions—but it’s also ambiance. It means that special touch, as well as consistent behavior and standards. It means intuitively anticipating a guest’s need for quality that you can directly control and develop among your team members. Practicing a common-sense approach to providing remarkable vacations can be done at all levels, every day, and in every action.”    - The American Resort Development Association (ARDA),  a  Washington D.C.-based trade association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries.



My personal thank you to the readers who took the time to share their thoughts – the insights are meaningful and cross cultural boundaries.
I am looking for additional insights on the following topics that readers have emailed me looking for ideas on:

1. Problems and solutions for room service
2. How to effectively say “thank you” at check out
3. How to provide training for all levels of staff in a tight economy
4. Making Cultural Diversity Real in today’s workplace 

Please communicate your thoughts and I will post a collection of responses in an upcoming column

Feel free to share an idea at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements.  Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE  www.roomschronicle.com and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan.   This column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.

John Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He holds a number of industry certifications and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20 year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,100 workshops and seminars in his career.  He served as senior vice president for a client in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He has published more than 350 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from a range of industry sources and AMAZON.com.  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing his 2nd book based on his dissertation –     The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

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Contact:

Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
johnjhogan@yahoo.com

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Also See: Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Food and Beverage Directors / Hotel Common Sense / John Hoganv/ September 2008
My Definition of Hospitality. What’s Yours? / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
Principles for Success as a Hotel Manager: 6 Observations on Finding and Employing Problem Solvers / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Action Steps to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Mistakes to Avoid in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / August 2008
Ways to Identify and Build Repeat Guests / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Maintaining Relationships Throughout the Organization / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part four: Communicating with Clarity and Candor / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part three: Using your management style effectively / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part Two: Motivating the Team / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of the Hotel Sales Office / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Factors for Successful Interviewing Potential Hotel Sales Candidates / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms - How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Extending Your Sales Team or Make Travel Agents A Regular Part of Your Sales Programs / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Finding Business Leads Can Be Easier Than You Think / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Understanding the Differences Between Marketing and Sales / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
Identifying Your Customers / Lessons from the Field A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
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