Tag Archives: hospitality management

More than just a headache

I don’t normally write about personal stuff but as this week is National migraine week and I’m a long-term sufferer I thought this was a great opportunity to educate those who are affected by friends and colleagues or employees who suffer from migraine. Also to promote some of the excellent achievements from the National Migraine Centre in London who have a worldwide reputation for treatment and research into migraine, and have certainly helped me to keep my migraines in check.

Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population and every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack. The World Health Organisation ranks it as one of the 20 most disabling conditions, however it is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact (it costs the UK economy in the region of £7 billion).

My migraine hell started in my early teens and I remember whilst at university some of my fellow students reporting that they thought I was dying when they first saw me with a migraine attack.

Mercifully when I’ll was working in Florida for 14 months I can only recall one migraine attack; maybe I was just a little bit more relaxed while I was there. Frustratingly the one attack I did have was when I was visiting friends and I certainly wasn’t fit to drive home and missed work the next day. My boss simply could not comprehend that a ‘headache’ could prevent me from getting to work.

Then as I moved into management positions initially my migraine attacks became more frequent. Although I had a certain amount of empathy from the company I always felt that there was an element of suspicion that my ailments weren’t genuine. A consultation with the company doctor at the time confirmed this as “classical migraine” and from then on in my colleagues were a little more understanding.

If you have friends or family who suffer from migraine you’re probably already aware of just how debilitating it can be. But if you’re an employer and it affects someone’s reliability and quality of their work you may not be quite so understanding. Migraine is not simply a headache, and pumping yourself up with painkillers does nothing to alleviate the symptoms, and in fact in many cases can make things worse, especially nausea and sickness.

Talk to your employee about any known triggers to a migraine attack. Quite often it might be a combination of triggers that bring on an attack rather than just one. In my own case there are a few things that I am wary of and in the past as an employee it could sometimes be difficult to avoid without letting others down. Of course the net result is you let them down any way if you then end up being ill.

Here are a few triggers that I’m aware of which can crop up in the workplace:

  • Low blood sugar, made worse by skipping or working through the lunch break
  • Dehydration so not having access to water
  • Interruption to sleep patterns, so made worse by shift patterns for example working a late shift followed by an early shift
  • Extremes of temperatures, e.g. Overheating in stuffy rooms or hot kitchens
  • Changes in barometric pressure or weather and/or extreme cold temperatures
  • Flickering lights
  • Undue stress or worry, which is often okay until people relax and then the migraine hits and on the first day of your holiday or at a weekend, so you come back to work feeling as though you never had a break.

If any of your team suffer from migraine and have not sought professional help, then do them (and yourself) a favour and refer them to the migraine clinic. More details below.

Extent of the Problem of Migraine

  • Every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack
  • 90,000 in the UK miss school/work every day because of migraine
  • Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 30-50, and in women.
  • More than ¾ of sufferers report that their activities are limited by their condition
  • Most sufferers say migraine interferes with family and social relationships
  • Migraine is more common than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined
  • The World Health Organisation ranks migraine as one of the 20most disabling conditions.
  • 1 in 3 neurologist referrals are for headache
  • Migraine is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact
  • Over ⅓ of sufferers face difficulties and discrimination at work because of their migraines
  • Less than half of migraine patients consult a physician

National Migraine Centre has for 32 years provided treatment to sufferers of migraine and cluster headache as well as education to healthcare professionals. Patients can self-refer and are asked to donate towards the cost of their appointment as the Clinic receives no NHS funding. The clinic is based in London and open to those from all over the UK, however hopes to setup outreach clinics in the future to improve accessibility for sufferers around the country.

Migraine treatment has come a long way in the last ten years, but recent developments show there is more that can be done. The current approach is for treatment that targets the head (as opposed to the whole body with drugs). These treatments include; Greater Occipital nerve block injections, Botox injections (recently approved by NICE – The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and due to be offered by the NHS from mid September), and handheld devices giving electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain.

For information regarding the charity and its work:

Rebecca Sterry, National Migraine Centre. 22 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6DX.

Tel: 0207 251 7806/07716 426896 rebecca.sterry@nationalmigrainecentre.org.uk

Website: www.NationalMigraineCentre.org.uk Registered Charity no 1115935.


What we can do to get kids hooked to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry

 

OK, I’m hooked

If anyone had suggested to me a month ago that I’d devote the best part of a sunny summer weekend to watching road cycle racing in preference to gardening I’d have thought them mad! But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Seeing our boys in the Tour de France was the start, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics right on my doorstep all for the cost of a train fare was too good an opportunity to miss.

The day on Box Hill was perfect; an amazing atmosphere, great weather, brilliant view and not one, not two, but eight chances to see the action on the loop.

Needless to say I was hooked, and was glued to the telly for the entire ladies race on Sunday, despite a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden (and despite what was seen on TV it was actually sunny in Sussex most of the time!).

So what can we learn in business and in particular hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses from this surge of interest in cycling and other sports? 

One of the biggest problems I hear is the concern for a lack of young talent joining the industry. So what can we do to emulate the success of attracting new talent to cycling, athletics, or rowing?

There have certainly been some fantastic role models for the next generation. And what an inspiring idea to have youngsters nominated by some of these past winners to light the Olympic flame.

But the sports have gone far beyond this; rather than waiting for the young talent to come and find them, they’ve been out into schools to find them.

We need to follow suit. And not just leave this to the likes of Springboard. We all need to be doing our bit to fly the flag for the industry and inspire youngsters to want to be a part of it. It won’t happen overnight – most of the youngsters competing for the first time this year have been in training for years. Not all will make it of course, but the earlier we can introduce youngsters to the industry and all it has to offer the more likely we are to leave them with a positive perspective and attract new talent.

Parents, teachers, college lecturers, and careers advisers all have a part to play in influencing future careers. What perception do they have of the industry? Let’s do all we can to educate them and ensure that hospitality, leisure and tourism management is given the profile it deserves.

Establish ambassadors who can generate the passion. 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 jobs.

Offer work placements for universities that give a structured programme and a really in depth view of the options within hospitality management so once they graduate they stay the course. Feedback from graduates who have experienced work placements in a particular segment of the industry are invariably drawn back to the same disciples on graduation. Without this connection it’s all too easy to stray into other industries if a job of their choice is not immediately forthcoming; potential talent maybe lost to the industry forever.

Let’s put on our own show open to all and give everyone a taste and a chance to be a part of this fantastic industry.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

 


Build rapport and build a sense of anticipation with your customers

Before your customers arrive, start to build the relationship and get your customers excited about their visit. Let them know in advance what they can be doing the make the best of their time with you. Offer your help in booking restaurants, (yours or JV partners’), entertainment, outings, taxis, accommodation, attractions. etc. Anything that will make their stay or visit with you memorable.

Introduce your future customers to the team; let your head chef describe the menu or his/her signature dish, personal recommendations from one of your local team members of places to see or things to do, your gardener to talk about what’s in bloom,  your events team about any special entertainment. Anything that will whet their appetite.

Pass on useful (and most importantly up to date) information that will enable a smooth journey: forewarn of expected traffic delays, what’s the quickest and/or cheapest way to get from the airport or railway station, personalised driving directions from their home post code.

Act like a travel company and give tips on what to bring, and what you provide, so they don’t have to overload their suitcase or cram the car with unnecessary toiletries, clothing, sports’ gear or travel books.

Say thank you

The quickest and easiest way to create an impression and get remembered by your customers after their visit is to send a thank you note. A handwritten and personalised card or note will win hands down over and above an automated email.

Show you appreciate their custom, and show you care. Make reference to the rest of  their day out, their holiday, onward journey or something they mentioned during their stay. And one of the easiest ways to show your appreciation is with a small gift of some kind. This might be an exclusive offer or deal for them or a friend, a memento for them to keep or pass on, or some useful snippets of relevant information or tips.

A follow up thank you is also a great opportunity to get feedback too. If you know they enjoyed their visit prompt them to write a review in TripAdvisor or Google Reviews (make it easy for them by providing a link). Ask for direct feedback too; what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to enhance their stay next time.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to start to build the customer relationship before they have even become a customer.


Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 5

Keep talking

Give constructive feedback -what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved.

Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them.

Having a happy and motivated team will not only help you retain your talent and reduce staff turnover, but will lead to better productivity and customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs.

If you want to retain your best people you need to give them what they want.

Click here for more articles and resources


Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 4

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.

In the final part tomorrow will discuss the impact good communication with your team.

Click here for more articles and resources


Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 3

Insecurity

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.

Tomorrow we’ll look at whether you or your management team may be the reason that people leave your hotel.

Click here for more articles and resources


Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 2

Recognition and reward

When staff leave, 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.

Tomorrow will look at the impact of changes in your hotel business and how to minimise the disruption this brings.

Click here for more articles and resources


Hanging onto Talent ~ Part 1

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? Well maybe there are a few things we can all be doing to tip the balance in our favour.

Each day this week I’ll be posting steps you can take to hang on to your hotel’s talent.

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.

Tomorrow we look at how we can use recognition and reward, and career prospects to help retain our best people.

Click here For more articles and resources


Are you letting hotel bookings slip through your fingers?

The other day I was stood in the reception of the top Glasgow hotel. While I waited to check in the sole receptionist took a phone call.

What I heard was

I’m sorry our wedding coordinator isn’t here at the moment. Can you call back in the morning?

Mmm, now I wonder if I would bother to phone back. The chances are that this potential wedding booking has been lost forever.

But how many other hotels are guilty of similar scenarios, of letting potential room, conference or wedding bookings slip through their fingers?

Now I’m not suggesting that the meetings or wedding coordinators need to be on hand 24/7, but at the very least ensure that there are some procedures in place for anyone to take an enquiry and give the potential customer confidence in the hotel’s ability to handle the potential booking.

Ensure that all of your staff who are customer facing (not just reception) fully understand the facilities on offer. It should be part of their induction to see the facilities, the layouts and get a general understanding of the types of events you’re able to host at the hotel. Even if someone is new the very minimum is to have a handy fact sheet to hand for any enquiries to include this top ten:

  1. Number of meeting/function rooms
  2. Optional layouts for each room
  3. Capacity of each room for each layout
  4. Equipment available
  5. Basic charges and what these rates include
  6. Breakout areas
  7. Catering options
  8. Wedding licence?
  9. Anywhere for indoor photos?
  10. Any other frequently asked questions about your venue

Don’t just assume that because you have a list that everyone treats enquiries in the same way. Ask a friend or colleague to act as a mystery shopper and find out how your staff deal with these enquiries.

And as an absolute last resort, even if you can’t manage this, make sure that your front of house team have a system in place to capture details of the prospective customer and are able to make a commitment to them that their enquiry will be followed up, by whom and by when.

And of course that you deliver on this promise and follow up promptly….

 

Hear it from the experts. Join me on my regular FREE interviews when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.