Expert’s Voice: S.E.C.R.E.T. of service mentality – how to excel in hospitality
Hospitality trainer & consultant Raimonda Grigaite-Kjeldsen reveals the S.E.C.R.E.T. behind what it takes to be a great hospitality professional #expertsvoice
It’s not a job – it’s a lifestyle! That is likely to be the most common saying I have heard from multiple colleagues during the years when asked to define what hospitality means to them. And I would probably agree – this industry in special in many ways and this is one of them – attracting people who live hospitality.
When you look at it closer – it’s no surprise. The whole essence of hospitality refers to the relationship, to the goodwill and care. So no wonder it feels and means more that just a job to many of us.
But what does it take to be a great hospitality professional? Is the passion for this lifestyle enough? Can the will-for-good alone ensure our success and also personal satisfaction? Although that is certainly the driving force, there is more to consider in discovering the SECRET of service mentality.
What probably comes as no surprise, certain job skills are required for excelling in the industry. On top of the practical role-specific skills necessary for particular position (cooking for chefs, gardening for a gardener, administrative for reception and etc.), general understanding or close acquaintance with other roles is the key to successful performance. Receptionists, who comprehensively understands the operations of housekeeping or F&B, will be more likely to have better complaint handling skills and solve challenges faster and more efficient. Or the waiting staff, who have extended knowledge of the kitchen processes, will in many cases be more successful in their role as the ones limiting their experience to specific job responsibility. The better understanding we have about different roles and their required job skills in our establishment, the easier it is to succeed not only individually, but also as a team.
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another is a great gift in life, which helps us build relationships and create communities. Being aware and sensitive toward our guest is also the answer to business success. Those, who have empathy, are naturally more willing to help others and show compassion which is essential in dealing with people. Our goal is to create deep connections with the guests and ensure they have great overall emotional experience – this is where empathy is a starting point to make them feel valued, welcomed and cared for.
Something many successful people often have in common. Despite of different backgrounds and unlike experiences, they always come across as very professional and knowledgeable, so earning our admiration. In many cases it does not mean they are better than others, but their confident way of expressing themselves or performing certain tasks creates this lasting impression. If we are confident in what we do, our guests will be confident in relying on us. An assured answer is always more convincing, and a positive “Good Morning” in the hallway will surely create a better impression than a shy speechless pass.
Naturally confidence comes with experience, but it can also be practised and encouraged any time – making small steps toward the goal and having confidence to learn and try, or even confidence to fail for the matter of gaining that experience. No-one was born with a set of skills and knowledge and we all acquire them with learning. But let’s do that with confidence!
How to spot a great hotel manager (or any great employee for that matter) in a busy hotel? Take them for the property site inspection! During my years in the industry I have observed both great leaders and mediocre “bosses”, and funnily enough their business success has very often unfold with simple and yet so significantly symbolic action of picking up (or not!) the litter on the way. The ones who always did – no surprise usefully had a well performing, growing establishment. And the ones who not (instead of leaning down themselves they would prefer calling a staff member to “check the area”) – often seem to struggle. Because they had no sense of responsibility.
Either it is responsibility for own role and certain tasks, responsibility for the team or, finally, genuine responsibility for guests satisfaction – the feeling of being personally accountable for the success of the business is one of the most valued characteristics of a thriving professional. Responsibility results in reaction – reaction to the situation, to guests’ needs or challenges; and it stimulates the ownership – a strong sense for reaching targets and results. A strong feeling of responsibility prevents from excuses and blaming and encourages proactive performance, both individual and team, which never goes unnoticed by the guests. So next time you see a rubbish on the floor – please pick it up! It is also your responsibility.
Tourism and hospitality is an exciting, bright industry. It is the industry, which for many represents the happiest times of the year – holidays; or is at least a welcoming rest-oasis after intense travelling or working day for the others. When visiting the hotel, restaurant or any other hospitality establishment people want to unwind, relax and enjoy special experience different from their everyday life routine. We need to ensure that energetic, positive and eager to be involved staff are the ones taking them on that journey. Because there is nothing more unpleasant as the missable or emotionless face welcoming you to “your home away from home”.
If the first five components of service mentality are more focused on individual qualities, the very last one requires cooperation. Great establishment can only function if all departments and teams work closely together for the common goal – greater guests’ experience. Besides, the whole variety of skills needed for individual success – such as effective communication, empathy & understanding, organisation and similar – can only be gained while working in a team. Like a famous quote states “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it” (H.E.Luccock).
Service mentality is not a skill – it is the whole set of personal and interpersonal characteristics, which makes us live and feel hospitality inside us. Revealing the S.E.C.R.E.T. of it can guide to the professional success, business accomplishment and memorable experiences for our guests.
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― About the Author ―
Trainer & Consultant, Sole Proprietor at Guestbook Consulting
Raimonda Grigaite-Kjeldsen has over 10 years experience in international tourism working with world’s leading tour operator, various hotels in different destinations and other hospitality professionals. She now aims to help hospitality establishments to unlock their full potential in delivering great service and create long lasting memories for the guests by helping industry representatives to understand guests’ needs and find their very own, original way of delivering the unforgettable experience.