By Doug Kennedy
I have always been a huge fan of articles written by Alan Young, CEO of Puzzle Partner, but I was super happy to read his most recent article entitled Has the ‘New’ Service Culture Become the ‘No’ Service Culture? In this publication.
I definitely suggest that my readers click and read the full article wherein Alan calls out and challenges major, iconic brands to live up to their lofty company mottos and read his pointed questions to them.
His work has inspired me to write more about the disconnect between brand messaging and operational delivery, along with discussion questions for your next leadership meeting.
Alan quotes the specific brand promises of major chains, questioning whether these are just clever sayings framed on walls and boxes being checked off by staff, then asks, “So, what’s going wrong? I’ve been pondering this, and I think it comes down to something quite fundamental – the definition and delivery of hospitality. We need to go back to the basics, to the very root of why we all got into this business. It wasn’t to manage transactions; it was to create experiences, moments, memories.”
I couldn’t have said it better. Alan then adds… “We need to teach each and every person on our staff what true hospitality is properly. It’s not just about being polite or following a script. It’s about understanding the guest, the human being in front of us, with their unique needs and wants. It’s about making them feel seen, heard, and valued.”
So now I ask you, the corporate executives, General Managers, and department heads, when was the last time you discussed the concept of hospitality and guest service excellence with your frontline associates? How often have these recently been topics for staff meetings? How much formal training have you put your staff through on these subjects?
Now, if you are a client of Kennedy Training Network, I’m sure your answers are “recently” and “often,” because most of those who engage our company for on-site or remote hospitality training are already at the top of their game!
However, from what I hear from others, these discussions are rare and training is infrequent or nonexistent at the vast majority of hotels. Here are some questions I encourage you to ponder at your next meeting, along with suggestions.
• What do new staff learn during their onboarding process? Does your orientation focus mostly on compliance issues such as workplace harassment, active shooter training, alcohol awareness, and an overview of benefits? (All are important by the way!). Do you also present core hospitality essentials that everyone is to live by, such as empathy and kindness?
• What training do new staff receive about hospitality and guest service itself once they hit their new department? Or is training limited to shadowing another staffer and/or watching videos on how to use the PMS or POS system?
• Speaking of core hospitality essentials, do you have these? If so, is it a long list that sits in a binder or dusty frame on a wall? Is the list comprised mostly of “must-do” communications “standards” that only foster transactional, scripted interactions? Or do have a shorter list of essentials that everyone truly lives by and obsesses on? (If you need that list, register your team for KTN’s Heart of Hospitality Certification program!)
• Do leaders truly model the behaviors and actions they ask the staff to use? Do leaders treat your staff the way you want your staff to treat your guests?
• Do your leaders truly understand the difference between hospitality (which is philosophical) and guest service (which is demonstrative).
• What are you doing to measure hospitality excellence? Are you relying only on guest surveys and reviews, which we all know are skewed and biased? Or do you also have leaders observe, score, and coach actual hospitality and guest service delivery?