I guess all of us have our own criteria and there are tiny little things that can lead to simply leaving the hotel door the same moment we entered the lobby once they happen. Working in luxurious hotels taught me that guests usually don`t get as upset with big, major issues as they get with what we can consider meaningless, minor, little “thingies”. Never neglect any uncertainty, doubt, communication gap, lack of information & don`t count on somebody else. Observe the guest discreetly.
Here are top 5 points and solutions:
1. Wrong greeting. Addressing the guest wrongly devastates the whole first impression. Can you imagine using improper title? Wrong surname pronunciation? For luxury hotels it is unacceptable. Quite common is combining Ms. & Mr. with first name which is childish and totally unprofessional. Why is your staff than doing this? Because you didn`t spend a second to check how they pronounce the
family name. It is less stressful for them in case they say it wrong. Additionally you haven`t taught them how to politely ask the guest for their name yet still giving the recognition. That is why you have Ms. Kate and Mr. Peter instead of the Robinson family. Now what happens when there are 3 Roberts and 5 Kates in the hotel? Solution : go thru all your arrivals during morning meeting and pick the difficult names up and practice them – common, it takes 5 minutes, only! Additionally, I always had extra 10 minutes for my butlers and we together “googled” our guests to make sure the title, name and all necessary information are correct – didn`t cost us anything but made us feel confident in providing the excellent service.
2. “Oh sorry, we don`t have”. This phrase drives totally crazy, a pure fire-starter… and you know what? It just proves what kind of leader you are. Let me tell you 2 stories from a manager point of view and a guest point of view.
When I was Club Lounge Manager I always taught my team that there is no such a phrase – we always HAVE, if not, we will get it in 10 mins. It was during opening. Still in the middle of trainings. All of a sudden club become full of people. Teas and coffees didn`t stop and I noticed colleagues started to serve without a tea spoon… So I grabbed one staff and I asked where is the teaspoon?! She replied “finished” as if nothing happened. We quickly went back to the pantry and I said that it takes
seconds to clean a teaspoon and follow the standards, which was one thing, and second, come back and clean ALL teaspoons for the rest of her colleagues serving – support is the basics. You can imagine me – perfectionist, how boiling inside I was… Patience, patience will save us! Once you start lowering your standards using excuses “but it`s busy”, you will never get back your team on the “excellence
Second story happened just recently. I asked for cappuccino and extra cinnamon. My cappuccino came but when I asked for my cinnamon I heard “oh, sorry, we don`t have, just the sticks”. Well, my common sense would tell me to get a rasper and simply rasp a little cinnamon for my coffee! Any hidden philosophy here? It is not a Hawking level science! Solution: Pick few items than you may run out of and train your teams to handle it, for instance: you run out of lemon – offer lime instead or be back with lemon in 10 mins, you run out of sugar – offer honey/maple/sugar syrup or be back with sugar within 10 mins etc. My team and I build a list of “must
have items” in agent department, butler department and F&B – to each was a person assigned who checked the stock once a week. Simple.
3. “No problem” & “Let me check” – I am sure you yourself realised that wherever you go if someone says “No problem” there actually was one so you had to bother to come or still is “a problem”. If the guest is thanking you for something the professional answer will be “you are most welcomed”. Word “problem” has negativity inside and whenever you hear this word a red lamp turns on in your head. The second one is common for guest questions such as ” Can I change my room..?”, “Can I have this steak without mashed potatoes?” etc. – and usually the answer is “Let me check” & the staff disappears for 10 minutes to come back with THE ANSWER to the world`s most difficult QUESTION. Whenever I hear “let me
check” – I am already annoyed. Professional way of saying this, is “Allow me to verify” – verify sounds more professional – the whole phrase makes you think you deal with qualified person. If I may kindly ask you to also mention to your team that “OK” is not and answer in a luxurious hotel. Solution: (nothing sophisticated) training, repeating & repeating.
4. Staff having an amazing conversation among themselves & me approaching desk, or raising hand to order is just a huge, rude interruption. Trust me, I do pay high attention to have a great atmosphere at work, to create no stress type of workplace but when the team starts to overuse it – changes need to happen asap! Situation described above is not even a wake up call – it is now a habit you will have to root out! They will be super-surprised once you take actions!Solution : Don`t sit in your back office all the time! Stay with the team in order to support them and lead by example. Observe – React.
5. Chewing gum, missing bulbs and misspelling. For a perfectionist (if you are working in LUXURIOUS hotels) standards must be elevated up to infinity. There is no space for such annoying things such as chewing gum, missing bulbs in chandeliers (or some burnt or flashing irregularly) and wrong spelling/different fonts on menus, welcome cards etc. It is a NO GO. Solution: Check, ask team if anybody reported that (if not – why) and get it fixed now!!!!!!!!!!!!
I guess you can add plenty more to that list – and there are no rights and no wrongs here. Once you realize what is your weak point – it is half of the success!
We tend to have excuse for every situation. Unfortunately it only spoils the team and lowers the standards. The way back to excellence is painful, unpleasant and positive energy consuming. Set your expectations high enough and simply motive, lead and recognize the team in order to pamper and delight your guests.