Monthly Archives: February 2012

Give your talent a feeling of security (part 3)

I’ve worked with a number of businesses recently who have had to make cuts and changes. This makes people uncomfortable, and so when another opportunity comes along, they jump at the chance if they feel it has better long term security.

Communicate any changes that are happening in the business before they happen, and how this might affect them.

Set standards so that people know what’s expected of them, and can measure their own performance, and not left in doubt about their contribution.  Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it.  This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.  And make sure you provide the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.

Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas. A win-win for both.

They say that “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers“. Can you really afford to let that happen? This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February. Find out more here.

Give people a reason to stay (part 2)

Yesterday we looked at why staff leave. Today we focus on positive reasons to stay

Recognition and reward

If the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition (bearing in mind for some roles your competitor for staff may be in totally different industries). But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package.

What about the less tangible aspects of their package. Recognise and reward performance and achievements. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people strengths, training, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.

Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths.


Career and prospects

If they’re moving for career progression, is this something that you could have given them but just didn’t make them aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that all your team get the recognition and development they need for their career progression?

Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons. And make use of the training grants available through the tourist organisations, colleges, and government-funded schemes.

You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small hotel, but having some kind of succession plan in place does give people something to work towards. However, be careful you don’t make promises that you are unable to keep.

Make training a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes for both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their CV and are willing to take on training responsibilities as part of their own development.

They say that “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers“. Can you really afford to let that happen? This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February. Find out more here.

Hanging onto Talent (part 1)

I was at hoteliers’ meeting recently, where one of the topics of conversation was finding good quality staff, in particular chefs. We already know that there is a lack of new talent entering the industry so it’s important that we hang on to our best people. The hospitality industry has always had one of the highest labour turnover rates in all sectors of the economy, so are we just deluding ourselves if we think we can beat that trend?

Why do they quit?

Staff turnover can be infectious, the more people  come and go, the easier it is for others to make the decision to leave. Unless we understand why staff leave it’s unlikely we’ll reverse the trend.

In an ideal world some kind of confidential exit interview should be conducted and wherever possible this is best done by someone other than a line manager. Let’s face it, if the reason is it’s poor management or leadership that has prompted the move, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the whole truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.

But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out as much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.


What if you are the problem?

We may not want to admit it, but you or your management team may be the reason that people leave. Rather than hide your head in the sand, reflect on what you need to do to change. Find out what are the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach before others decide to jump ship.

How much direction do you provide? Do people know exactly what’s expected of them, and have the tools, time and resources to deliver? Lead by example so there are no mixed messages.

Ensure that you and your management team are approachable. Provide support when it’s needed, and be receptive to when this is required. Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. Consult staff and listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.

Take time to talk to staff to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.

They say that “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers“. Can you really afford to let that happen? This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February. Find out more here.

Show you appreciate your guests’ custom

Your relationship shouldn’t end the minute they walk out the door. Keep in touch with your guests. The first and most obvious way to make contact with them after they’ve left is to write and thank them for their business. Not a mass produced impersonal e-mail, but a personalised letter sent by good old-fashioned snail mail with a handwritten signature. Even better if the whole thing is handwritten on a thank you card.

What better way to show your appreciation (and giving an incentive to return) than with a voucher of some kind for them personally or to pass to a friend or colleague if a return visit in person is unlikely. Again make this personal; there’s little value in offering a complimentary bottle of wine to a teetotaller, for example.  If they have been celebrating an event extend this to their next anniversary.  Or if they only ever stay on company business on expenses, tailor the offer to something they’ll benefit from personally. If you missed out on the opportunity for the little finishing touches mentioned earlier, now might be the perfect time to send them the information, gift or little extra that leaves them with that lasting memory of “Wow, what an amazing place, that was amazing service”.

Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February

Going the extra mile for your hotel guests

What can you do to make their onward journey all the easier? Assisting with online airline check-in, arranging taxis, looking up train times, printing out directions for the onward journey; checking the travel updates; looking up an updated weather forecast of their next destination; and doing all of these things the night before they leave and offering to do it before being asked.  Helping them get on their way by scraping ice off their windscreen (or washing off the squashed insects, depending on your climate and time of year); writing out a list of your favourite coffee or lunch stops en route to their destination; highlighting the worthwhile detours to visit a hidden gem that they won’t find in the guidebook, or to avoid a tedious bottleneck; sending them off with a little travel goody bag of a bottle of water and a snack if they a long journey ahead of them, or a little puzzle or game to keep the kids amused for a moment or two.


Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February

The last hurdle

The level of service a guest receives should be maintained right the way through to leaving the car park at the end of their stay.

Breakfast on their last day should be memorable for the right reasons; consistent service and being mindful of people’s travel plans and not wanting to be held up.

Offering a helping hand with their bags not just down to reception but out to their cars too.

Having guests’ bills ready when they come to check out (or offering the option to have these settled up the night before) so their lasting memory is not one of hanging around to part with their money, and getting irritated that their travel schedule is getting behind. Reminding them of any procedures to get out of the car park, such as a token or a pin number at the exit barrier.

These basics extend to conference guests and organisers too. All too often I find that conference and event organisers are nowhere to be found at the end of a long day when you truly appreciate a helping hand with clearing up after the meeting or conference and getting equipment back to your car.


Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February

Finishing touches for your hotel guests

Identify the little finishing touches that you can give guests at the end of their stay that will leave them with that wow factor. This might be picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had with the guest that enables you to give them a personalised memento of their stay. For example, they raved about a particular dessert so your chef has written out the recipe for them and where they can find the unusual ingredients (or even given them a sample to take home if that’s practical). They’ve been away on business and missed their wife’s birthday, so you assemble and gift wrap a selection of your luxurious toiletries for them to take home. They lost something on a day trip and you manage to source a replacement for them before they leave.

These are all little things that the customer will truly remember and also recollect to their friends. But don’t fall at the last hurdle……


Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February


Leaving a lasting impression

We’re all familiar with the sayings about a first impression: a first impression is a lasting impression, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you only get one chance to make a first impression, it will form a lasting impression within the first seconds, etc. So does that mean if you make a great first impression that’s all you need to do?

We sometimes put so much energy into a positive first impression that we then forget all about the lasting impression. What is the impression that stays with your guests when they leave your hotel? What will be the lasting memory that stays with them when they’re thinking about booking their next visit, telling their friends or colleagues about their stay, or telling the world on review sites about their experience?

These are the three ways to be proactive:


Ask for their feedback

If what you have provided fails to meet expectations wouldn’t you rather know about it before the guest leaves? Simply relying on reviews, questionnaires or a visitor’s book when your customers leave is not only impersonal, but is leaving it a bit too late if things weren’t perfect. Face-to-face feedback will always be the most effective, but making a hurried statement such as “I hope everything was OK” as the guest checks out doesn’t do much to demonstrate that you’re really interested in the feedback and finding out how they feel about their stay. Make it easy for your customers to give you useful feedback by asking specific questions that will give something more than a yes or no. Open questions starting with how or what are the most useful; for example how would you rate …, how could we improve on …, what did you like most about …


Talk to your customers throughout

Of course leaving a lasting impression doesn’t mean only showing your interest when they leave. Being visible in your business, and making contact with your guests throughout their stay builds rapport and trust. Once you’ve gained this you’re in a far better position to identify guests’ needs and expectations and gain valuable feedback first hand.  The same goes for your staff too, so encourage them to talk to your customers. Give them the appropriate training to ask for feedback in the knowledge that they are confidence to deal with it – good or bad – in a positive way.


Problem recovery

Accept that from time to time things will go wrong; there may be occasional delays at breakfast, you’ll get power cuts, you might run out of their favourite tipple in the bar, fellow guests or deliveries may disturb your guests in the early hours, something may get overlooked by housekeeping. Most of our guests are reasonable, and they understand these things happen too, just as long as you’re prepared to listen, empathise and do something about it to resolve the situation and not allow them to leave with a bitter taste in the mouth.

The sooner problems are identified, the easier before they have a chance to fester. Be observant and look out for signs that things aren’t right or that someone wants to get your attention. Picking up a problem early on and dealing with any complaints (justified or otherwise) in a positive way before a guest leaves ensures you can not only deal with it before other guests experience the same problem, but ensures the affected guest has an opportunity to get it resolved to their satisfaction before telling the world about it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at those little touches which add the wow factor……………….


Delivering outstanding customer service generally stems back to getting people engaged, enthused and focused. This is what the Leading for Peak Performance 29 Day Challenge is all about, and starts on 29th February

Educate the career influencers (part 3)

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of accommodation management? Let’s do all we can to educate them. And unlike my own experiences, let’s do all we can to ensure that accommodation management is given the profile it deserves within the syllabus.

Establish ambassadors for the department who can generate the passion. Involve general managers. Offer work placements to schools and colleges, and make these fun and informative. Organise ‘A day in the life’ and open days for schools, colleges and careers advisers for them to get a real feel for the roles and opportunities, and a chance to talk to those who do the job.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of accommodation management.  Although few might set out intending to work in accommodation management, feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in the department are often drawn back to accommodation management on graduation.

Engage recruiters and agencies

Make it easier to fill vacancies by educating agencies with what the work entails and the attributes we need, as well as enabling them to sell the benefits of the role. As with the educators, invite agencies in to see for themselves what is involved and the merits of working within accommodation management.

We won’t change perceptions overnight, but if we all do our own little bit will be in a better position to meet the challenges of recruiting for this key role.



Raising the profile of accommodation management (part 2)

Maintaining a reputation as a good employer, and publicising this, all helps to raise the profile of a career in housekeeping. Look at what gets into the press about the industry as a whole, including social media (as well as looking at what our teams are saying about us on social media).

Recognise and reward the team, and shout about our success from the rooftops. Good food, good beer, and good service all get recognition,so why shouldn’t good housekeeping?

We also want to consider what reputation housekeeping has within our own hotels. How much do other departments understand the role of the housekeeper or accommodation manager? How much profile is given to accommodation in the general running of the hotel; is housekeeping always represented at management meetings and in any key decision-making?

Promote the benefits

Let’s not hide the benefits of a career in housekeeping. It develops people in a number of transferable skills: customer service, organisational skills, an eye for detail to name but a few. And let’s not forget that housekeeping is not just about making beds and cleaning toilets! It involves linen and stock management, budgets, and as with many other hospitality careers, provides plenty of opportunities to progress up the management ladder.

Accommodation management can provide an opportunity to work in some very special locations with potential for access to a range of leisure facilities when off-duty. Unlike many other roles though, particularly in hotels, it can have the added attraction of far more sociable hours.

…..Continues tomorrow: Educating the career influencers…..