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How Do Your Hotel Staff and Guests See You? ehotelier Editorís Week in Review
By Anne Edwards
This week in ehotelier there was considerable interest around Alan Fairweather's article Discover the Cure for Cranky Customers. Alan gives ten points of advice, underlining that hoteliers must first deal with the customer's cranky feelings and then deal with their problem. Why? Because customers are primarily driven by their emotions and it is only after you have acknowledged these emotions that they will be likely to accept what you say and forgive your mistakes. Further to dealing with people's emotions, in Fifteen Vital Business Etiquette Rules, Royale Scuderi reminded us that most people prefer to collaborate with or work for or buy something from someone who has high standards of professional behaviour, and explains fifteen time-tested rules of better behaviour.
There are many things that we ‘should' do and a number of helpful, informative articles pointing us in the right direction. Before we embark on the ‘shoulds', have we asked ourselves ‘What is?' What is our current situation? What is our current behaviour? How are our relationships with those around us right now?
In L. Aruna Dhir's article this week Top Ten Things Luxury Guests Want, she points to Richard Gere as someone who knows a thing or two about luxury living and hoteliering because he is used to travelling ultra luxe and staying in uber luxury abodes. Dhir says that Gere "liked the Oberoi in New Delhi because the staff knew in depth his likes and dislikes....one of Richard Gere's main diktats to staff was that no one should greet him in the lobby or approach him for photographs..." What Richard Gere appears to be good at is being able to articulate exactly what he wants.
This kind of feedback is not something that seems to come naturally to a lot of people, perhaps because they don't give themselves the opportunity to practise it; a high-profile person like Richard Gere with a retinue of staff and minders would be lost if he could not let them know exactly what he wanted.
It is the guests who know what they want and are able to clearly express their needs and desires that bring us, as hoteliers, the greatest opportunity for success. How often have hoteliers heard complaints at the end of the stay (or read scathing reviews after the guest has long gone) when it would have been relatively easy to meet the guests' needs had the staff known about them?
To look at this from another perspective, how aware are the people around you of your needs and desires? How do you come across? How do you appear to your staff and guests in your daily activities? How are they ‘reading' you?
How Can I Know How Others See Me?
The simple answer - ask them. ‘Oh no' I hear you say, ‘That would compromise my status'. Would it? What if there was a way to get that valuable feedback from staff and guests and at the same time increase the respect they have for you? Imagine yourself in the following conversation:
GM: I noticed that only three staff members responded to that circular I sent around regarding X. I'm thinking that's not a great response and I guess I'm feeling a bit disappointed - you know, my thinking is that they're not interested. What I want is for all of us to benefit by X so I'm wondering what I could do to capture their interest more effectively. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Staff Member: Well, there was some language in the email that had me thinking it was just a directive from above.
GM: Yes, can you give me an example of that?
Staff Member: The start of the email - ‘It has been decided that...' kind of discounts the staff's input, and then there were a couple of ‘musts' and ‘shoulds' in there.
GM: OK, thanks for that. I'll re-word the email and send it around again.
Or another example:
You have just chaired a meeting in which your ideas were met with indifference or reluctance and you have left the meeting feeling isolated from your team. You speak to a trusted staff member:
GM: That didn't seem to me to have gone down well. How did I come across in that meeting?
By starting with an observation of what happened followed by your perception, your feelings about it and what you would like out of it, asking for feedback can be a simple conversation and the benefits you will reap from hearing how others perceive you can guide you to build more effective behaviours.
To conclude, let's briefly revisit the article Discover the Cure for Cranky Customers. Alan Fairweather advises ‘to be very aware of your body language and tone of voice - people listen with their eyes and will set greater credence on how you say something rather than what you say'.
How many of us can actually ‘hear' the tone of voice we are using or ‘know' whether our language patterns are being heard in the way we intended them? For this we need others. To be able to ask how something sounded or was received is our ticket to moving forward.
About Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards combines her love of language, travel, and different cultures as Editor in Chief of ehotelier.com. Prior to this position, Anne lectured in Cross Cultural Studies at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia and currently consults to the Australian Federal Government on subjects such as Leadership and Building Productive Partnerships. Anne has travelled and worked internationally for twelve years, holding various positions in the field of education, most notably as linguistic advisor to the Crown Princess of Thailand for two years where she sampled some of the best hotels in the world. Her love for travel spans the freedom of wandering on a shoe-string budget to the finest standards of service in world-class properties. As Editor in Chief of one of the largest hotel news sites in the world, Anne has a birds-eye view of what is happening in the industry internationally.
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