HOTELIERS, IT IS THE RIGHT TIME TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS Comments Off on HOTELIERS, IT IS THE RIGHT TIME TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS 1408

During the past years, I have through my humble professional experiences came across different people of the hospitality world. Whether into operations or at senior head office level, with a good exposure to their respective and distinct objectives and goals to achieve. I met more than a hundred of people, be it team members, HODs, GMs, guests, agents, tour operators, to name a few.

I feel today, surprisingly concerned about the difficulty in finding new perspectives, to rethink and bring a new dynamic to this very complexed sector. Not to generalize, but we can count a few of the leading hospitality groups which not only have a clear vision of where they are heading to, but are also giving them the means to achieve these results and who finally respond faithfully to their respective brand promise.

Today we all focus on the term ‘’experiences’’ – Name it… Culinary, Golf, Spa or wellness, family, wedding and honeymoon. Just have a look at most hotels’ websites, and you’ll find them. It is true that we do need to put forward the experiences that our guests will encounter. However, how many are we, to seriously, reply to these two questions: Experiences, for whom? For what? I’ve been giving a thought to this, and here are a few observations which I believe we need to rethink of:

We are a people business

Hospitality, is the spirit to serve. You may have the best rooms, with the best location and the best service. What will make it best, is the daily contact with people. It is the daily affirmation that each Team Member will repeat in the morning:” I am here to serve and make my guests happy.” The same affirmation for HODS and Management with a slight change and which go like; “I am here to serve my Team members.” The spirit of service is the essence of efficient leadership.

In his book, ‘’The Spirit to serve’’. J.W Marriott tells us of a story of his dad who enjoyed talking to his employees. ‘’When employees know that their problems will be taken seriously, that their ideas and insights matter, they’re more comfortable and confident. In turn, they’re better equipped to deliver their best on the job and to the customer. Everyone wins: The company, the employee, the customer.”

Take time to listen

Richard Branson says it very clearly: ‘’Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’’

You can only take care of your employees by experiencing their day to day and listening to their experience on the field. Many are we today, at management level, to focus on results, figures, SOPS, reports. Staying a major part of our time behind the desk filling excel sheets. It is true, that procedures, process and records are essential to the proper running of the business. Yet, we, as hospitality professional should always consider or remember that feedbacks from Team Members or guests are crucial to our survival. Go around the hotel, talk to the guests, and the Team and you’’ll be surprised of all the essential information available and nice stories to tell and share. I always think of this story just after the terrorist attack in Paris. During a management cocktail, I was discussing to one of the guests and she obviously mention the subject. While I was trying as a sales and communication person to push forward the experiences she could enjoy within the resort, she looked at me and just said: ‘’you know what? Luxury for me today, is just waking up, in a calm place, where I don’t have to fear the people who are smiling and serving me and just knowing that I am in a safe place, at least for the next 10 days. This is luxury for me, safety and peace of mind for 10 days’’. Without this deep conversation with her, I would have continued to push emailings and information comfortably from my office desk or upselling experiences. I would have missed the essential of her holidays: Peace of mind experience.

Today, so much involve into management process, we are many to be in a constant fire fighting mood, especially with the pressure of ‘’instant response’ encouraged by social medias and new technologies or over internal processes and reports. In addition, we are clearly facing a strong mindset change with the new generation of Team Members. Indeed, the Y and Z generations are in a perpetual search of purpose and meaning. They need to understand why they are here. What are their contribution? What change in others’ life are they bringing through their job? We have no choice today than to go back to the essential. Listening and action consequently. It’s all about putting back people into the heart of the business.

Drive emotions

As I think, why I have always loved hospitality, I remember at the age of 9 or 10 to have been in a wonderful 4 Stars hotel in the South western part of Mauritius. I knew then, that I was going to be part of the hospitality industry when I grow up. The most important part of this very first experience, as a guest, was that I was profoundly touched by the beauty of the resorts, and mostly by thinking that such beautiful things can be done by men and women. I was curious and always tried to imagine how people could have such a savoir faire to make beautiful things. Or I would just wonder what I could improve or would have done if I was the ‘’Chief’’. A buffet set up, a bouquet, a nice and properly folded tower, nice smell in the room. However, what I loved the most, was the smile of every staff when they would meet me. In those time, I thought to myself that it must be nice to work in a hotel, since everyone smiles, greet each other and even chat with a little boy. I loved it and felt like a little prince who’s being taken care of.

A few years back, while visiting two luxury hotels in the Maldives, I was again impressed by the emotion driven by its people there. The kind words of welcoming hand-written by the GM or a housekeeping guy telling you on your departure day that ‘’we will miss you sir’’. Simple actions, that need no SOPS or obligations or reports. Just people who are encouraged to be profoundly human and authentic, is what makes the difference. Emotions are not brought only by the experience a guest would live. But by the emotion brought through the interaction of the guests and the ones who served them or have made the experience happened.

We managers and professional leaders in hospitality, have the obligation to embrace the people culture and drive it to our respective teams. In making our employees happy, confident and happy with themselves and the job, we will bring to them a positive attitude which in return will be felt in everything they do. That same positive attitude is what drives the emotion towards guests. To make it short, it is putting the people in the heart of the business. The formula is rather simple:

Happy team members = Happy guests.

Happy guests = Good business.

Author – Ian Dindoyal

Communication and PR Manager at Heritage Resorts

Photo: Maritim Crystals Beach

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HOW TO USE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND TO ALLEVIATE YOUR BUSINESS PROFILE Comments Off on HOW TO USE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND TO ALLEVIATE YOUR BUSINESS PROFILE 187

Whether we believe so or not it is in our DNA to sell both ourselves and any tangible product we can regain enough influence to promote, in the outcry for both attention and reiterated self-absorption, the tactical selling tools we use to advance our way into the hierarchy of society and manufacture relationships is the very tool we must interject into our career proposition. This leads to purposeful sales and trustworthy partnerships.

It dawned on me recently that the trajectory of my personal life lies effervescent in all notion of proprietary influence, from the recommendation of small purchases such as hula hoops, books and sun cream, to more permanent life changes with influence of recommended breakfasts, vitamins and health alleviating foods. Yet minor, these personal wins got me thinking about how to use the attributes of your vocal whims to succeed in business.

Firstly consistency, the closest people to you, family, friends, partners, may see you regularly enough to see whether you are upholding any kind conscience and impactful life plan, this could be turning vegan, cutting out alcohol or changing your sleeping pattern. Showing consistency is a sure-fire way to get you noticed for your strong will and desire for meaningful change, this goes hand in hand for any career and business endeavours, constantly being active, communicative and visible on a cross platform of social media will build your authority and express a clear narrative to your readership.

Secondly, stay within your remit, I don’t mean isolate yourself and pigeonhole your talents, I mean stay clear to your niche, a continuous stream of career changes and sector interest broadcasts a message of uncertainty and disorientation, ( I certainly speak from experience on this one ) trying to find your passion and enjoyment is one of life’s downfalls, but stick with a specific talent and explore the territory around it instead of moving on to the next.

From my personal experience I started out in fashion journalism and decided some years later I hated fashion, and decided to move into PR and marketing, however realising some months down the line, I loved journalism I was just located in the wrong sector, finally now finding my feet with specific concentration on the luxury market for female pioneers. 

Distinguish yourself from the sheep, it is harder now more than ever to create and imagine something that solves a problem and fills a void, with endless pop-ups of data driven ads and access to more content than we can ever consume, finding un explored territory is nigh on impossible.

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There are thousands of consultants, marketers and PR agencies vying for the same end client, but in the race for the chase ensure your voice differs from others, usually you will find, every imaginative topic or multi-million-dollar idea you dream up has already been traversed. Hence, identifying and honing in on a unique niche will get you noticed far more frequently than choosing a conventional topic. Once your passions and talents are in line, devise strategies, marketing and sales tools that will not only directly hit your end consumer but those of a wider audience, gaining industry recognition and viable sponsors will build a loyal audience, then you just need to deliver on discussing out of the box ideas and selling with credibility and authority.

If your pipeline is drying up and sales seem a thing of the past then look into changing up your tactics, direct sales door-to door, telephone and email stratagems are so 2018, building meaningful relationships that align with company values, generating industry credibility and showing consistent and out of the box ideas will keep your buyers and audiences desiring more.

For more luxury, consulting and business related articles, visit:https://www.thecblifestyle.com/ or contact me directly at thecblifestyle@gmail.com

POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR A POST PANDEMIC TRAVEL INDUSTRY, PART 2 Comments Off on POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR A POST PANDEMIC TRAVEL INDUSTRY, PART 2 271

The first part of this series outlined the background to the disastrous set of circumstances that the travel, tourism and hospitality industry finds itself in.

It also outlined the first of four scenarios: Travel swings back to normal in 2021.

We continue with the next theory…

Scenario 2:  The end of mass tourism as we know it

In this future, the economic recovery plays out in similar fashion to the scenario described before. However, the emotional and social impact this crisis has on humanity is too deep for people to get back to the old normal.

Months of lockdown and new patterns in social distancing, bio-surveillance and our digital consumption will change travel at its core. Spending more time at home, a higher focus on hygiene and health and shunning away from crowded places will be the new normal.

These attitudinal shifts will also be reflected in policy changes in our daily life, such as health and safety regulations, data privacy and border controls. All of these trends have huge consequences on the travel industry

Urban-based crowded tourism will decrease in favor of outdoor and natural environments and long-haul destinations will be perceived as high risk compared to closer-to-home locations.

Tourist destinations will experience different fates. Countries that have traditionally been net tourist flow senders (Northern Europe, U.S., Japan, etc.) will win, while countries that enjoyed positive inbound numbers (Southern Europe, Thailand, Mauritius, etc.) will be on the losing side.

Beyond washing hands

In a rush to build confidence among travelers, hygiene protocols and labels have started being implemented across all destinations and companies from the early days of the outbreak.

Singapore was a pioneer in its announcing of a nationwide hotel audit scheme branded as the “SG Clean” label, regulating measures like temperature screening intensity at hotel entrances and disinfection frequency rates in common areas and guest rooms. 

Hong Kong quickly turned its airport into its first line of COVID-19 defense by sending all incoming travelers to the AsiaWorld-Expo upon arrival for throat saliva samples, as well as providing tracking bracelets for visitors tied to a smartphone app.

Elsewhere, Emirates has launched on-site rapid coronavirus tests that take 10 minutes for passengers landing in Dubai. The city of Madrid, badly hit by the virus, has launched its own “Hotels COVID-Free” quality stamp.

In this scenario, this patchwork of protocols and certificates all over the world generates confusion and mistrust across travelers. In a coordinated effort by governments, international tourism organizations and major industry associations, a new universally accepted health certificate label will be established in 2021 for air transport and hotel accommodation ensuring consistent standards worldwide.

In aviation, discussions around the end of the loathed middle seat on aircraft will turn into reality, food services onboard becomes a distant souvenir of another era, indicators like cabin air recirculation rates will emerge and face masks will be a part of new standard safety measures on planes.
 
Hotels will focus marketing efforts away from the beautiful pool landscape towards features like disinfection standards, touchless technology for all types of physical interactions and larger spaces between sunbeds. Hotels will switch to room-only food services, transforming breakfast and other food-related spaces into spacious lounges.

What will hurt a hotel’s balance sheet is the need to keep hotel occupancy rates low, with a health buffer of over three nights between guest stays in the same room to eradicate any risk of contaminated surfaces. 

The alternative accommodation industry will enjoy the advantage of being perceived as a less-crowded lodging option but will have a harder time building travelers’ confidence around hygiene and health standards.

Industry leader Airbnb will push hard amongst its hosts to establish a new set of cleanliness and disinfection protocols, but certain travelers will steer away from private accommodation for good.

The travel industry faces a soul-searching moment 

All these measures will have a dramatic impact on the industry economy. In a world where maximizing occupancy rates or load factor has been turned upside down, travel companies will have to take a hard look at their cost structure and their pricing strategies.

Some companies will feel the punch more than others. Low-cost carriers will be forced to rethink their business model. Their strategy of squeezing as many passengers as possible on aircraft, which in turn stay as in the air as much as possible, will become unsustainable. 

Network mega-carriers relying mostly on long-haul flights channeled through massive hubs will also face a gloomy future. Fewer long-haul trips and travelers shunning crowded places will trigger a significant downsizing of airlines with sky-high airplane orders and iconic airport projects coming to a screeching halt.

Short-haul flights, already under attack pre-coronavirus from the flight-shaming movement, will see the shift of travelers towards lower-carbon-emitting transport means like high-speed trains. 

Corporate travel apocalypse

One of the most radical transformations in societal attitude will be around business travel, fueled by virtual meeting practices adopted during the lockdown period and new corporate travel policies implemented to curb expenses during the cash crunch.

The irreversible decrease in business travel, by any measure the most profitable clients of the travel industry, will hit the balance sheets of travel companies like a sledgehammer.

The implosion of meetings and events activity during the crisis was a watershed moment for the industry. The unstoppable rise of virtual conferences and webinars during the lockdown period and the perceived danger of large crowd gatherings will transform major convention centers into indoor leisure spaces or city landmarks of a past golden era. 

The rise of a new distribution landscape 

Two types of travel intermediaries will suffer a Darwinian process of natural selection.

  1. Traditional offline travel agencies that were behind the digital curve will slowly fade into extinction in this hyper-connected world.
  2. The few travel management company survivors will be the ones rapidly adapting to a significantly smaller market and to a change in paradigm in servicing and duty of care.

On the online travel agency front, there will also be major changes in play:

  • Servicing and connecting with customers during the darkest moments of the crisis will turn out to be the most powerful loyalty program any marketer could conceive. Speedy refunds for cancelled bookings, transport and lodging rebooking alternatives for clients stranded overseas and an ongoing and candid communication strategy will win the hearts and pockets of customers.
  • Deploying bots and machine-learning algorithms, allowing for automation of back-office processes and customer service interfaces, will make the most successful players future-proof for disruption in the years ahead.
  • Many will integrate a traveler’s health data across the entire industry’s service chain, in an ecosystem where health information will become a mandatory data field for all actors.

Faced with our rapidly increasing digital life, where tech giants try to keep users locked into their ecosystem, the most successful travel players will start to integrate daily users’ services like inter-urban mobility, local entertainment booking facilities and food delivery services, in order to remain relevant in the customer’s mind.
 
This trend towards Asia-like super apps in the Western World will spark a frenzy post-crisis, with merger activity between travel tech giants and mobility and food delivery tech players, whose valuations suffered a massive downward correction during the economic deadlock due to their weak balance sheet.

* Check scenario 1 here, then 3 and 4 when they are published next week.About the author…

Mario Gavira is a tech executive, angel investor and board adviserAirlineAirportGround TransportationHotelOnline Travel AgencyPrivate AccommodationTours and ActivitiesCoronavirus