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Finding Pleasure in the Hotel Business: ehotelierís Week in Review
By Anne Edwards, Editor in Chief, ehotelier
Could there be a better representation of the spirit of hospitality than this photo of Rich Flores of Wyndham Hotel Group and Kimberly Christner of Cornerstone Hospitality, taken at the fourth annual Lifestyle/Boutique Hotel Development Conference? Something about this photo reminded me of why many of us joined the hospitality business – for the pleasure of working in an environment designed to bring pleasure.
Pleasure. It’s just one of those words I like to say out loud. The soft pop of the P, the elongation of the vowels and the final syllable that coaxes one’s lips into a gentle pout. Pleasure. What brings pleasure? How many different forms of pleasure are there and how many different ways do people interpret pleasure? I’m waiting for the day when I walk into a hotel and the staff ask me ‘What pleasures would you like to indulge in today and how can we help make them happen?’
Certainly there are examples in Larry Mogelonsky’s Ten Differentiators: Inspiration with Ten Examples of Unique Hotel Features. Opening the closet to a zebra print and a tiger striped gown, or a complimentary mid-afternoon tea in the Library Collection’s in-house club room sounds pleasurable. Or in Luxury Doesn’t Always Define Boutique Hotels, a thermos of hot coffee left with the morning newspaper. Simple pleasures. Gestures that provide a welcoming atmosphere. L. Aruna Dhir gives us a plethora of examples of pleasure derived from luxury in her article Top Ten Things Luxury Guests Absolutely Want Part 2.
Choosing Employees Who Understand Pleasure
Let’s return to this idea that perhaps for many of us, this pleasure soaked environment was one of our inspirations for joining the industry. Along these lines, it might be worthwhile asking staff what brings them pleasure. It might be even more worthwhile asking them that question when interviewing them for the position in the first place. This week, Alan Fairweather wrote about How to Be a Great People Picker. He suggests that what you’re looking for when you interview someone for a job is not their knowledge, or their intelligence; it’s about their talent to do the job. Does your staff have the talent to bring pleasure? Or, following Alan’s line of reasoning – does it bring pleasure to your staff to bring pleasure to guests? An example is given in his article of ‘Mr Grumpy coffee person, slamming down coffees and grunting responses’. Alan says “This guy shouldn’t be there, and I don’t necessarily blame him for his poor customer service. I really don’t believe he should be in a customer facing job, and no amount of training will help. My question is – ‘Where is the person who put him in the job?” People have different capacities for pleasure – find staff who delight in pleasure.
Creating a Pleasure Culture
I’ve worked in companies that seemed to have a pleasure culture; opportunities within the day for some pleasurable time, whether it be a good quality coffee at a break or the chance to chat to a mentor and receive invaluable advice. Opportunities for pleasure need not be grand nor costly. I’ve also worked in companies wherein that pleasure culture has been gradually eroded by the corporate push for productivity. When the last drop of pleasure dried up, I handed in my resignation.
Is it possible to create an environment of pleasure for others when your own day is void of pleasure? Pleasure is worth investigating and investing in. Ask questions. What brings you pleasure? What brings your guests pleasure? What brings your staff pleasure? If your staff were your guests, what would bring them pleasure? If you find at the end of reading this article that your heart rate has relaxed and you’ve gone a bit dreamy, it’s because the simple mention of pleasure can put you in a pleasurable state. So go on – go forth and talk about pleasure.
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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