Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Service Ethic – Dead or Alive?

I met with a colleague the other day.  He left his last job in a major branded Hotel a few months back and we have gotten together on a number of occasions to discuss the “state of the nation” as it relates to Hotels.

Our conversations have taken us in many different directions when we have gotten together, but it was the topic of our last conversation that left me wondering about the future of our industry, or at least as it relates to the true commitment to service.

My friend, as I said, has recently left his job with a major branded Hotel.

Why, you may be wondering?

Because, in short, he could no longer work in an environment that boasted of their commitment to their associates and their guests, through their over-riding commitment to service, while experiencing first-hand the actions and instructions of his General Manager to the contrary.

This friend of mine, himself a department head, was repeatedly told by his General Manager, to do things that were completely against their corporate (brand) commitments to employees, to guests, and to service.

When this Manager respectively questioned some of the directions that he was given by his General Manager, he was accused of not having any business acumen and told that “this is what it takes to be a Manager.”

Now, don’t mistake me for some bleeding heart that can’t make the tough decisions, pass on the bad news, when the need arises, or make necessary cuts, to improve an operation – quite the contrary.

I have gone into operations and found multiple items that could, and should, be cut.  Frivolous or extravagant expenditures or programs that did not add any value to the guest experience – gone.

However, what I have not done is cut items that were invaluable to the staff in their ability to deliver service to our guests, or items that provided a direct or indirect benefit or value to our guests, thus supporting our commitment to providing consistently exceptional guest experiences, and ensuring their loyalty to our Hotel and our brand. 

My over-riding concern, what got me putting fingertips to keyboard, was my view that this is happening more and more every day, certainly in North America at least.

More and more, Hotel companies are standing up and professing their unwavering commitment to service, telling consumers why they are better than their competitors, and why YOU should choose to stay with them, while on the other hand, they are cutting the guts out of their loyalty programs, reducing their (inclusive) services and operating like a limited service brand, while they charge for the luxury brands that they are, or at least by definition.

Service, is for sale, and if you want it, you’re going to have to pay to stay at the most exclusive Hotels, and even then there won’t be any guarantee that they haven’t made significant cuts to their service or guest programs as well, or, you’ll have to travel to Hotels in places like Asia, where the labour market is still so cheap that the major Hotels in Asia can afford to provide service, and, throw bodies at the problem when all else fails.

Service doesn’t have to be defined by a higher body count, sure it helps at times, depending on the specific service, but it isn’t a necessity.

What is necessary is a dedication to service in the first place, and a specific plan on how to deliver it, consistently, so you can look your employees in the eye every day, with the confidence that you are behaving like and modelling the behaviour of the leader that they expect and deserve.

There is, in my opinion, no better leadership model than leadership by (positive) example.

Great leaders inspire others with their passionate commitment to what they believe in. They love what they’re doing, and they’re doing what they love.  

Inspire your employees through your passionate commitment to service. 

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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