Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Technology - Friend or Foe?

Sure, I know what you’re thinking; is he crazy?  Look at all the advancements in technology that we have experienced over the last decade, and look at all the great things that have come from those advancements.

Fair enough, but have you also noticed that the technology that is supposed to “make the world smaller” and make us all so much “more connected” is also responsible for creating more distance between people than ever before?

Take a ferry between two cities, jump on a bus, take a look around you the next time you are at the airport or on a plane, or, just look around when you’re walking downtown and notice how many people have their faces buried in their IPhone or Blackberry and how many of them are wearing headphones at the same time, and as a result, how many people are NOT speaking to each other.

The same can be said, to some degree, in the workplace.  That is, that the technology that was supposed to “make our lives easier” and contribute to “work/life balance” is instead increasing peoples’ workload, their stress levels, and their inability to have any work/life balance based on the fact that they are always reachable, and always expected to be reachable.  There is no longer an “off” switch for many people.

One of the additional symptoms of this to me is when you receive an email from someone whose office is next to yours or around the corner about something that does not require a documentation trail.  In short, they could have either picked up the phone or popped around the corner to your office to have had a conversation with you, but who has the time?

As simple as it may seem in the face of this situation, one of the simple solutions that I put in place to increase relationships and connectedness within the workplace in one of the hotels where I worked was to create “email free day” one day a week, every week.

The “rules” were simple and we got everyone on-board with participation.  On email free days you could not send any emails internally, except where there was a sense of urgency around some form of documentation that had to be circulated on that day, such as BEOs or changes to BEOs for banquet events scheduled within that week.

External emails to/from clients, corporate office or other hotels within the company could be responded to, to ensure we continued to comply with our commitment to respond to all correspondence within 24 hours of receipt.

But if you sent an email internally on email free day, you were fined $1.00 and the funds generated from those emails was donated to charity.

At first, there were some people who responded as if we had asked them to work with one hand tied behind their back, but quickly people saw that their job was not in fact made any more difficult, and, as you would expect, there was a whole lot more interaction between people, not to mention that people who habitually had been locking themselves in their offices all day were now seen meeting and talking to people all over the hotel, and they turned out to be some of the biggest fans of email free day.

Give it a try.  You may be pleasantly surprised to see how much more liveliness and fun get produced in your workplace.

We spend a good deal of our lives at work.  Is it too much to ask that we have a little fun while we’re there?   I don’t think so.

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

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Exceeding Conference and Event Clients Expectations – A Full Time Job

We all know that our guests are exposed to a great deal of information every day, through the media, the web., etc., and as a result they are increasingly expectant that everyone that they come into contact with within a Hotel is equally as knowledgeable as they are, perhaps more so.

There is no greater example of this, to me, than the expectations and the role of meeting, event and conference services managers (CSMs).

Conference Services Managers have a tough role, made so by the fact that they will regularly find themselves dealing with multiple levels of individuals charged with organizing a meeting, conference or event – Everyone from the seasoned veteran who has done this 100 times before, to the novice who has never done this before.

As the demands within businesses has changed over the last several years, companies have combined positions, or eliminated positions entirely, sometimes associated with organizing their events and conferences, and the task has fallen on to some unsuspecting individual who may never have organized anything this complex in their history, and as a result, they in turn have come to expect that the meeting planners, or CSMs that they deal with, are experts in their field and completely knowledgeable on all of the latest trends and technology that could be employed to make their meeting memorable.

Although you could argue that the circumstances have changed, the need to exceed customer expectations has not, and as a result, it is and always has been critical to ensure the ongoing education and training of meeting planners  and CSMs to ensure that they are adequately equipped to deal with the increased level of demand being placed upon them, and, the fact that a good or bad meeting or event at your facility could make the difference between securing a long-term relationship with a leading company, or, losing them to a competitor who is in a position to better provide what they need.

So, whether it’s participating in the necessary programs to have all of your key CSMs PCMA certified, or having your team members participating in other training or development that makes sense in your market, it is imperative that meeting planners and CSMs are continuously investing in their training and development.

Your clients expect it, sure, but more importantly, the increased level of confidence that emanates from your CSMs will be evident to them, and to your clients, and it will give both the platform for continued success, and that in turn will translate to bottom line results for your property that will far outweigh any costs associated with providing the necessary training and development to these vital team members.

The ROI on this one is a no-brainer.

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

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