What did I wish I knew when I started my career?
'Ne regrette rien', meaning 'no regrets' has been one of my strong tenets in life, and that doesn't mean I haven't made mistakes, on the contrary, I have made more than my fair share, but mistakes are the rungs on a ladder to the stars. Once we learn from our mistakes and learn not to repeat them, it helps us to move forward and not to look back in anger. That's the end of the cliches ha!
My memories of my early career were that I was like a 'sponge' soaking up as much information as I could about product, processes and systems. It was a time of great changes in the hotel and hospitality industry, and I.T. became a massive and valuable tool replacing manual and mechanical systems and processes. Many at managerial level in the industry didn't know how to turn on a computer, so there was a large amount of turmoil, a certain degree of fear, and a fair amount of casualties!
In the hospitality industry, we became too obsessed with shiny new products - room designs, brands, and marketing became a major and necessary skill to add to one's portfolio.
In the frantic faffing around, I almost forgot (as many did), that's it's a service business and 'a people business'. It's about looking after people by teams of people, and that should always be the central focus and the ultimate and supreme objective of our collective efforts!
It is my experience, both as a hospitality provider, and in my later role as a consultant that often management provide basic training, and the necessary tools and skills to carry out the job but they forget about people skills. In my view, this is the most essential feature in providing hospitality to a customer. Whether serving customers or building teams to provide a service, it's often a key ingredient left out of the mix!
How many times a week do we experience indifferent or lousy service. The crazy thing is it takes the same time to carry out a job poorly as it does to do it right! Its not the people it's the trainers and while we know some people are just not suited to the industry, again it's managements responsibility not to hire them. However, it's a human condition to take pleasure in providing something of value, to another human being, whether its a product or a service instantly one can see and enjoy the fact that you have enhanced their pleasure or enjoyment. It's a win-win!
I remember I said to a sleepy waitress once after receiving a complaint about her poor service, 'would you treat your family like that? Or would you like somebody else to treat them like that? Guess what - they are someone's family' - it was like a light switch turning on, she got it, and she bounced around for the rest of the day and eventually became a valued manager and a provider of excellent customer service.
I possibly learned or realised this later than I should have, but it has become a speciality and a passion of mine in the constant battle to provide the best hospitality experience.