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 1667

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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Mauritius B2B Hospitality magazine, a quarterly publication and blog for the industry professionals. Want to reach the hospitality decision makers in Mauritius/Rodrigues? Contact us +230 57 94 64 37 or [email protected]

THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN Comments Off on THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN 400

After the recent round of short interviews with hospitality leaders in the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, these were the key messages that will win customers back. 

MALDIVES – No social distancing, but a rather physical distancing in the Maldives.

One month ago the Maldives reopened the country borders to international travelers and since then, welcomed nearly 4500 tourists mainly from the UK, USA, UAE, Germany, Swiss, and Russia. With strict health and safety standard procedures implemented across the country, starting from the airport to the resort islands, the ‘new travelers’ have already voiced their appreciation for the level of care and hygiene on various social media and forums. But if being welcomed by the resort representatives wrapped in PPE and armed with face shield, gloves, and masks might not feel like the most relaxing start of a much-needed holiday, Afeef Hussain, Regional Director at LUX* Resorts in the Maldives, reassures that guests do love the feeling of safety 

“Being able to arrive at the resort and start enjoying their vacation right away not having to worry about anything, is what our guests want”

Together with high levels of hygiene, another key element to restoring travel confidence is the value of the experience. Afeef Hussain shares that the ‘new travelers’ are not going to spend the same amount of money they used to. Therefore, the value of the vacation is under great scrutiny and determines whether your customer might decide to return to your hotel or to travel somewhere else. 

“There is no such thing of ‘new normal’, but rather a ‘new mindset’”

To ensure that each action taken to uphold the hygiene standards at the resorts is mutually beneficial, Afeef says that whatever is done for the guests, is also done for the team members. This ensures their wellbeing and wellness and translates the Company’s core message of ‘care’ into action.

SRI LANKA – Borders are closed, but our resorts are not.

Sri Lanka has recently delayed the opening of the country borders, but hotels and resorts across the island are back in business with the local market. The execution of health and safety standards at each property has been instrumental to restore a domestic travel confidence, says Arjuna Perera – Sales Manager at Theme Resorts & SPA based in Colombo. To start with, Arjuna Perera and his team produced a video message to show all the procedures and reassure their customer base. 

‘We immediately created a survey, to help understand what are our customers’ priorities at this critical time’ 

But, as we know, the local market demand alone does not cover it. A voucher system propelled by Arjuna’s sales team successfully generated over 1000 room nights. This shows that flexibility is another key factor to encourage travel demand. Flights can be canceled or delayed, quarantine systems are changing by the day. ‘All we need is a bit of flexibility’ says Arjuna ‘and the results are showing us that people are keen to travel, they just want to feel safe’. 

But how do we ensure social distancing in Sri Lanka? For Theme Resorts & Spa, more than distancing, we talk about isolation, but in a good way. The nature experience of some of their properties is guaranteed to the point that to reach some of their glamping sites, you will have to be picked up by the hotel concierge somewhere in the jungle.

MAURITIUS – A contactless experience and smart use of technology.

As Mauritius prepares to reopen borders next month, the health & safety checklist of the destination seems to grow longer.

The use of technology, however, plays a key role in the destination, currently undergoing a digital transformation with a brand new website, a travel platform in the making and a range of digital solutions for tourists. Airline and travel industry expert Youvraj Seeam, based in Mauritius, shares that to pick up on travel confidence, we first have to observe the consumers’ changing behaviors and thereafter understand the new demands.

“For this to be truly successful, we need collaboration with all the stakeholders across the industry”

Youvraj shares that tools like the Travel Recovery Insights Portal of ARC & Boston Consulting, the McKinsey Travel Pulse, or the Traveller Trends Tracker by Adara must be on top of today’s agenda for the modern marketer. This would enable industry leaders to have more visibility and start making progress along the way.

Based on his experience in the airline industry, the key message needs to revolve around hygiene standards and procedures from the moment the traveler checks-in, boards the plane and reaches the destination. Once arrived, says Youvraj, a contactless experience needs to be in place to ensure a safe transit until the guest ultimately reaches the hotel.

 About the author:

Dolores Semeraro is a multilingual professional speaker and trainer, fluent in the Chinese language. She provides strategic direction and training courses to companies and tourism institutions helping them to speak today’s digital language of their audience. Her vision is to create a sustainable digital connection between travel industry stakeholders and their desired customers.

IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS Comments Off on IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS 478

IT’S NOW OR NEVER, I am only tired, as the song goes and so says mother Earth after years and years of succumbing to the filth that are being spilled into her bosom by the 7 billion of us.

 We are at a crossroad and an eye-opening moment that have to be reckoned with. The changes to the way we live, the way we do business and the way we conduct ourselves in this world will happen whether we like it or not. It will be subtle and forcing us to be the architect of this change – it’s another industrial revolution enabling humans to evolve into a more conscientious being for the benefit of all and mother nature. And it’s worth mentioning here the abrupt change we are witnessing in the hospitality industry. 

Being reliant on large number of human capitals, the hospitality industry has been the most affected by the global pandemic, like no other. Think about it, its an industry that needs an intensive labour force to serve its consumers, it needs the use of fossil fuel to allow its consumers to travel and at the core of the travel industry there is the need for the Oil & Gas producers to power the planes and run the establishment that serves the hospitality industry. So, it’s an industry that at the core, survives and becomes profitable on the demands and supply within the Petroleum Market – for instance, when we see a low cost of crude, the demand rises, consumption rises and tourist travels. On the other hand, as the demand for Petroleum products rises, we see a rise in production which accompanies the rise in crude price. At the same time industrial catering contracts are signed in numbers around the Middle Eastern oil producing countries to support the crude majors, like BP or Total, and their service partners.

Then sometime in March 2020 the world stopped…

As every human activity came to a standstill, the price of crude oil stumbled and crashed as the demands crumbled. Unfortunately, we have made crude oil the center of our existential activities; that businesses linked to its production, whether directly or indirectly, are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic period. This is a true portrait of our vulnerability as humans who have become too dependent on fossil fuel – the only matter that is damaging our beloved mother Earth.

In light of the new normal as we fashionably call it these days, the only way forward for the hospitality industry, but more certainly for the industrial catering sector, is automation and robotics with a change in attitude within the concept by all stakeholders and consumers. This in turn will reduce the heavy reliance on large manpower thereby improving profitability which has hit the industry since the fall of crude price. Although change is a pill hardly accepted by people entrenched within a certain framework and mindset, and unless changes are actuated, the hospitality industry may lose the precious backing of the investors. 

How can we forge this sudden change then…? One aspect with the labour intensive hospitality industry is to use automation and robotics wherever possible but still remain within the framework of good practice. For instance, within the kitchen we have already started using automation when it comes to the processing of veggies, washing up of cutleries, pots and pans. What we need now would be the autonomous self-cleaning equipment – in the domestic market we already have self-cleaning oven – with a bit of imagination we can have self-cleaning combo oven and cooking plates inserted on a stainless free stove where every debris or liquids drops into an underlying tray from where they are sucked into garbage cannisters. The idea here is to reduce the manpower wherever possible and keep only the chef and a small brigade to assist him in the mass production. 

The other crucial change within the industrial catering facility, most appropriately, would be the implementation of self-service as a general rule of the game. This will limit human contact and adheres to the on-going rule of distancing as applied in the pandemic situation. The onus will then be on the catering team to properly and intelligently prepare the plated layout which is then collected by the consumers. This process will help on portion control amongst other things, which is important in controlling the cost. 

Obviously, the arguments for change and innovation within the hospitality industry is a hot subject at the moment and should be for quite some time. After all we do not know when the pandemic will subside nor when will a real cure be found! However, we have already engaged in a new way of living and a new way of doing business, which in the industrial catering sector it means finding innovative ways to reduce the reliance on large manpower and engaging strategic actions to reduce the cost of doing business in order to be more profitable.

Let’s hope at the end of the day, the right course of action is taken with the interest of all the stakeholders considered and enough investments are made to meet up the challenge of considerable change. 

Marc WILLIAMS