Thursday, 10 November 2016

Five things that will always stay in style in Hoteliering!

Marketers shape our demands by enticing us with their company’s R&D and innovation. There is always the latest trend, fad or gizmo vying for our wallet.

But the marketers know that regardless of the novelty, the snazziness, the glitz and the glamour; all their products will have to go through the tried and tested touchstone of purpose, use, relevance and effectiveness. 

Perhaps that may be the number one reason, why companies bring back on demand the bygones as the newest fad in an almost cyclic fashion.

Hotels, as products, are no different. We attempt to present the old pie in a new packaging. We enclose ourselves in focus groups and mega think tank meetings to develop exciting, new ideas, services and systems that we feel our guests will cherish and look out for. 

We rise up to the challenges of changing times to reinvent ourselves. We ensure that, as hospitality companies, we keep abreast of latest in product development, concepts, technology and guest expectation.

Still, regardless of the period in time that we inhabit, the following FIVE will always stay in top reckoning as far as the business of hotels is concerned –

1.     Guest Focus

From the first time a rugged faced alpha male rode on his high horse up to a two-room ram shackled inn and bellowed in his rich baritone “Anybody in?”; hoteliering has been and will always be about guests.

Whether they were cowboys in the Midwest, sheikhs on camel backs, travelling salesmen or in today’s world the smooth politicians, the current day white collared Mafiosi or the designer-wear flashing businessmen right down to simple folk like you and me, hotels will always be about guests.

So, even before you get the concept, the creatives, the infrastructure, the hardware right, you must streamline your software to be guest focused; your people to be guest-loving and your company mantra to put the guest right on top of your mission statement.

2.     Food for thought and Business

From the time our great grandmothers, their mothers and then ours slaved over slow stoves to cook, grill, bake their labour of love to be rejoiced in by friends, family and sometimes the neighbourhood, food has been held synonymously with hospitality. 

In a lot of Asian, Central American and European homes, not letting guests leave without a lavish spread of food has been considered de rigueur.

Perhaps it has been this ancient cultural etiquette enmeshed with the need and demand of the guest, that hotels have always placed a premium on food & beverage; besides it making a whole lot of business sense notwithstanding.

From the tautness of the hard rolls at breakfast, the tastefulness of the home-made pasta, the vitality of fresh produce checked zealously first by the Materials Manager and then passed through the hawk-eyes of the Executive Chef, the entrapments of molecular gastronomy, the novelty and excitement of new menus, new concepts and new presentations, hotels are always buzzing around and chirping about their food and beverage activity.

No wonder then, that a lot of hotels, besides being great places to stay in, have become landmarks resting on the laurels of their culinary wizardry. It is also no surprise that a lot of hotels house talented men in vibrant restaurants making them culinary destinations of repute.

3.     Value for money

If you think that the rich & famous and the guests with deep pockets do not mind squandering their stashes of greenbacks just like that, then you are sadly mistaken. Your guests, no matter how wealthy they are, want their money to bring back value – the more the better.

Don’t quite agree with me! Then sample this - Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, does not mind driving a second-hand Volvo and always flies coach. 

Warren Buffett, ranked the world's wealthiest person in 2008 and as the third wealthiest person in 2016, still lives in the house he bought in 1958 for $31,500, doesn’t eat fancy food and drives himself to work every day. So think about how they would want their money to stretch when they pay pretty pennies at hotels.

Even those celeb big spenders who are known to run mile long bills wish to get a bang on their buck. It must be seen as money well spent, whatever their definition of wellness may be at that point of time.

Speak to your colleagues in Front Office and Reservations and find out how even the big, mega-spending Corporate accounts want to get the most out of their expenditure at your hotel and like to not only see sound features added to the room business contract but also study how they can get more value out of the dollars they commit to your bottom line via the confirmed stays of their personnel at your establishment. Enough said!

 4.     Employee Orientation

Companies that ignore their internal customer or ride roughshod over their employees prepare to bleed internally and scar for life.

The secret of being a happy work place, for nurturing a healthy organizational climate and for ensuring loyal guests who love to not just come back to you but also recommend you in all the right places and among all the right people is essentially keeping your employees happy and engaged.

If there are 4 Ps of marketing, viz. price, product, promotion, and place; the same four hold a lot of weight in people management too. The 4 Ps in ‘your’ people relations could translate into deserving salaries, a great brand to be associated with, opportunities for growth and promotion and respect for their place in the organizational matrix and value for their unique skill set.

Tomes have been written on how happy, satisfied, valued employees are behind soaring, successful companies that deliver on target and in turn keep their customers happy and committed.

With hotels being so people-centric, this fact holds a far greater significance. Walk through the doors of a hotel and nine times out of ten the faces, demeanour, gestures, body language of and your first interactions with the Doorman, Valet, Bellboy will define how the rest of your stay is going to be.

5.     Experience Extraordinaire

When I was doing research at the University, there was this tiny, hole-in-the-wall tea shop we would love to visit, every single day. Sort of on the way from the hostel to the Library and School, only a bit of a detour - the longish one, yet we had to visit this place once a day. We soon realized it was not just for the perfectly blend and brewed cup of hot tea that the wise, old man stirred up. The entire experience was a package deal – the setting in a quiet corner of a dirt road, the seating on rocks of the Aravalli Range - the oldest fold mountains in India, clear views of the auburn sky and the setting sun, vegetation typical of the region that bore a sense of intrigue, the conviviality of the tea vendor, the aroma of fresh ginger and basil wafting over the steaming pot, the thick, luscious taste of the beverage and the happy price in pittance that the glass of tea came for.

This, then, was the magical experience dished out by a small tea vendor on the sidelines of life in the University. Imagine what the hotels, of any genre in any location, are capable of doling out with all those schemes and strategies, know-how and knowledge, branding and big budgets, attention to detail and acumen, creative energy and charm-infused chutzpah behind them.

After all, in hospitality more than much else, it is a business of experience to be partaken of in its entirety and savoured by all the senses!

So, don’t stop paying heed to what the wise old men of hospitality have been upholding and telling you. They are making a lot of sense!

The Five aspects above will, indeed, never go out of business sense and style of hoteliering, regardless of where you are located and how distinctly you may have defined your Brand.

Picture Courtesy - Google Images

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