Read…read…read…read…

Read…read…read…read…

Key to understanding the industry, and all that is happening is to search out and read as much as you can.  Find the authors of your book.  Find the authors mentioned in their references.  Look for trade publications.  Bookmark web pages.  Research your interests.  Because I will tell you, prospective interviewers might just ask you questions concerning the industry and these people.

Many of you are interested event planning.  Here is a brand new article by one of the authors I follow…

Professor Buhalis is one of, if not the leader in eTourism research.  His latest is on event planning.  

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

Today we talked about tourism motivations…

Today we talked about tourism motivations…

Why do we travel?  Why do we want to get away from it all?  It is different for all of us.  Our motivations are particular to each of us.  The key for the tourism destination, their marketing staff, and those part of the greater value chain, are to develop a message that tugs, and pulls you to make a decision.  It is hard though.  It is hard to understand why people choose one place over another.  There is a plethora of research out there, hinting at the various angles.

Motivations change over time, even minutes.  It is not an exact science, but more relative, and qualitative.  It will always have air of mystery.  The crystal ball will be murky, clouded by the mist that is our minds, those internal and external forces that exert some influence on that decision.  What drives me today, is not the same tomorrow?

So how do we get into the mind of the consumer?  How do we dig for nuggets of information in order to craft experiences that they would want?  What goes in to making those marketing messages that bombard us on TV, and other distribution channels?

Can we employ words, videos, music, and other methods to create visuals that plant kernels into the minds of our potential consumers?  That means we need to dive into the breadth of the soul of a destination.  Not just from a customer’s point of view, but also the destination itself.

I know you might get tire of my ongoing use of Scotland, but Scotland is the birthplace of organized tourism in modern times (IMHO).  Think Sir Walter Scott and the search for the honors of Scotland…just noodle around Google.  Their representation of the country align the tangible products of the country with the mystique, and mystery, the colors, the culture, the taste, the music, the words…the soul.

If we understand ourselves as a destination, then strike out to understand our potential customer, who they are, what drives their motivations; their lifestyle, then we can pinpoint on the mosaic of products all that they might be interested in, and craft an experience.

As I said in today’s class, 140, we are visual thinkers.  Books, words, transform into pictures as we read.  Therefore, the image is currency. We develop a sense of that destination from what is on the page.  Likewise, any encounters with the people of differing backgrounds, those conversations can give you a sense of their background, their lifestyle, their home.  It may just be enough to prompt us to investigate, even if it is from the arm-chair in front of our computer.

After we get them to move, make a decision, we wonder how their stay was…and that gets into a whole different arena

So, enough to chew on….more on the conversation later…

 

What does Service mean in Hospitality?

What does Service mean in Hospitality?

So I have been noodling around YouTube, Google and other materials to find out more about service.  There are a host of resources out there, both factual, and opinionated.  So I went to the source for an example of exemplary service.  There is perhaps one name, that has stood the test of time for consistently delivering on their promise of quality guest service.  And that is Ritz Carlton.  Yet, do their promotional videos get at the heart of what service really means?  For instance, here is their latest video upload to YouTube:

Of course any promotional material will be from the point of view of the customer, but here are host of promises from business to consumer.  As I have stated in class, there are three drivers influencing our industry, money or financial, information, and promises.  Service is a promise.  Service is a human element; a coordinated effort between all team members to deliver on a promise.

Okay, but what about the definition:

According to Brymer and Johanson (2014, glossary), Service is:

A type of product that is intangible, goods that are inseparable from the provider, variable in quality, and perishability.  The reason why private clubs exist; members receive high-end, personalized service at their club.

The authors go on further to define Service Experience:

Sum total of the experience that the customer has with the service provider on a given occasion.

So, we can draw several inferences from these two concepts.  One, that service is an intangible element, varies in delivery, and is perishable.  That would mean that is has links to the human element of our industry, that it may or may not be consistent, and that it may or may not last.  Yet, perishability, in terms of service, needs a little more thought.  How do we draw turnover into this concept?  If service is perishable, part of the human element, could that not mean that we have a tenacious grasp on retaining valuable employees, that understand service, and its effect to the bottom line (profitability), and loyalty?  That employees, if not seen as a valuable asset to our company, could easily jump ship and migrate to another company that values their efforts.  Therefore, how we plan, how we coordinate, how we train, the matrix of our corporate culture, envisioned in our mission and vision statements, should relate back to that core concept of service.

So let us revisit The Ritz’s Credo:

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

That is a solid promise to guests, that must be communicated down through the layers of an organization.  Every day this must be reinforced, and understood.  It’s not just about the job, it’s an ideal, an attitude, that must percolate consistently through every employee’s mind.  This also extends the argument to empowering the employees with clearly defined promises.

Yet, what is that empowerment to the Ritz employee?  We must visit their motto.

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.

Here the culture is proactive, already a thought in their mind, even before a guest decides to stay with them.  They understand the moment of truth, that at any contact point, they can and will make a difference.  The Ritz further articulates this into the Three Steps of Service:

  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name.
  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.

Again, these steps illustrate the need to understand your guest, before, during and after their stay.  We need to understand their decision-making process, their needs, their wants, even if they don’t understand quite what they want themselves.  It is about relationship building, CRM (Customer Relationship Management); about asking the right questions in order to understand, to progress from a limited awareness to a greater awareness.  To be cognizant of our world around us.  If someone family suddenly pops into your establishment without a reservation, and Mom is holding a three-year old, and Dad is trying to coral and maintain order with the other two youngsters, you know to ask a few questions to make their stay more comfortable.  Look at the people, look at what is going on, note the time, note the weather, even if you are sold out.  Service is about going that extra mile for your guest.

These steps can be further broken down into objectives or values:

Service Values: I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
  11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

What these are,are goals and objectives, in developing a corporate culture.  Something that is deeply rooted in the psyche of every employee.  Not only for the guest, but also, in how all employees are treated.  And thus a promise is made between the company and their employees:

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.

By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.

The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

So, what have we learned.  Service is about promises, about experience for both the employee and the guest.  And that leads to the final definition offered by Brymer and Johanson (2014, Glossary):

Service product: Entire bundle of tangibles and intangibles in a transaction that has a significant service component.

 

 

Empowering your employees…

Empowering your employees…
Empower your employees, don't rule over them
Empower your employees, don’t rule over them

Richard Branson’s recent blog post on Empowering your employees, don’t rule over them is an interesting read.  I agree, we need to treat employees like responsible adults, but one question remains:  Are employees mature enough to understand their responsibility to that policy and the company?  Do they understand the ethical and moral obligations that, that entails?  Maybe I am over thinking this.  Maybe I need to get to the root of what empowerment really means.  But then again, I promised you to be brutally honest, and not sugar coat the world.  Or hand out rose-tinted glasses.

Sure, as an operations manager, supervisor, and fellow employee, I recall the days when colleagues would call in sick, and know perfectly well, they were skipping out.  We called them ‘mental’ days and I took my fair share.  We just had enough of work, and needed to just be ‘bums’.  Now don’t take offense, it’s a fact of life and we all must understand why this behavior occurs.  We all have a threshold of productivity; a pinnacle of use before we slide into procrastination.  And that threshold varies from one person to another.  Believe me when I tell you, this week has been challenging in that capacity.  Half my brain is on an island in the middle of no where, or strolling along the streets of my favorite cities in Scotland.  The other half is tugging, pulling, pushing, and screaming at the procrastinating side to get to work, reminding me I have plenty to do.   I have reached a saturation point, where I need to step away from the desk, the computer, from most things and recharge the batteries.  I need a mental day.

But empowerment is a bit more than just needing a day off.  There are a host of other factors, and considerations to process.  Virgin is a service company, rooted in helping people.  Let me rephrase that, helping its stakeholders.  And as I have discussed in class those stakeholders include employees.  JW Marriott had it right, “If you don’t take care of your employees, they can’t take care of the customer.  They can’t take care of the business.  Profits won’t follow.”  In today’s information overload, our brains are working over time.  And couple that with other hard work of the body, and something has to bend, even break.

How do you create a balanced life?

I have mentioned this in class.  How do you balance your work, your professional career with personal needs, desires?  How do you give 110% or more to all the ‘hats’ you wear?  How do we develop and attain effective and efficient employees, that genuinely care about our business?  How do we demonstrate a caring attitude about our employees as persons with lives outside of work?  How do we create an innovative culture that allows our businesses to remain fresh, and progressive without high turnover rates?  How do we keep our best employees?  How do we hire employees that have the same value set, and beliefs?  All these questions and more are the layers that is empowerment.

Innovative businesses and culture must have fresh ideas, fresh viewpoints, and fresh perspectives on the dynamic world.  We can’t see the good, the bad, the ugly unless we are focused and cognizant of the world around us.  We can’t take advantage of opportunities, address threats, and weaknesses, or exploit strengths, unless we let the muddy waters settle, and acquire clarity.  We can’t recognize that precarious edge when a decision has to be made before we tumble over into deep, dark pits of stagnation, and potentially worse.  Empowerment is giving the employees the right to make decisions and more.  It has its roots in ethics.

Empowerment is about employing several of the ethical principles I mentioned in my last post.  We are definitely extending the hand of trust (trustworthiness), in that we have hired the right people, that understand that our business’ success and failure hinges on their work ethic.  That they will be honest with their employers, and their fellow employees, even customers.  That they have integrity in that they are courageous enough to recognize their responsibilities.  They will be fair, and not abuse the privilege granted them.  That there is a two-way street, a concern and respect for others, in that we employ the golden rule–that they respect the company, their fellow employees, and the guest/customer–basically, all those stakeholders that effect the company and its continuation.  That the employees have a commitment to excellence, that they give more than 110%, even more before they are even called upon to do so.  That they are all leaders, that they must walk the walk, talk the talk.

Such a policy can succeed and reinforce the corporate culture, and propel the reputation and morale of the company if this culture becomes ingrained in the psyche, and there is self policing of the policy by all individuals.  That corrections are identified and made before that behavior abuses said privilege.  And the employees are made accountable for their actions.  This in turn will build a loyal following within and outwit the company itself.  That they might set the benchmark for others to follow.

So empowerment encompasses all of these principles.  It is an action on the esteem, and self actualisation scale.  It is a difficult concept for some, easier for others.  It can’t be one of those concepts that is merely understood, but needs to be discussed and argued about.  Committed to paper, and more.

Virgin isn’t the only company that has put such a belief on the shoulders of their employees.  Ritz-Carlton, and other firms have clearly stated in their corporate culture and policies what empowerment means to their companies.  That is why it is important to research the corporate culture and core values/beliefs of those companies you want to work for.

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

At one moment in your life, during your career or personal life, you will have to make a decision based your code of ethics.  In determining your career, you should align your own code of beliefs with that of the company you have chosen.  You should research to see if the company has an ethics statement.  Research to see how the company has handled ethical situations.  But what is that?  Do you know your code of beliefs?  What is important to you?  How will you know it is a question of ethics or something else?  Where do I start?

Well there are 10 hospitality principles of ethics:

  1. Honesty. Hospitality managers are honest and truthful. They do not mislead
    or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity. Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions
    by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do
    otherwise.
  3. Trustworthiness. Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in supplying
    information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact. They do
    not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty. Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in
    devotion to duty and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity. They
    avoid conflicts of interest; do not use or disclose confidential information;
    and, should they accept other employment, they respect the proprietary
    information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness. Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they
    neither arbitrarily abuse power nor take undue advantage of another’s
    mistakes or difficulties. They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance
    and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others. Hospitality managers are concerned, respectful,
    compassionate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns
    of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights
    and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to excellence. Hospitality managers pursue excellence in performing
    their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they
    can get out of it.
  8. Leadership. Hospitality managers are conscious of the responsibility and
    opportunities of their position of leadership. They realize that the best
    way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organizations
    is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and morale. Hospitality managers seek to protect and build
    the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging
    in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary
    to correct or prevent inappropriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability. Hospitality managers are personally accountable for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subordinates.

(Jaszay, C. & Dunk, P. (2006). Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

These ten principles can be utilized in all aspects of leadership.  Some would say they are common sense, that one already understands these words.  But, again, the fact that they are down in paper, gives them a concrete voice.  And we aren’t questioning ourselves for a definitive definition when situations occur.

There are other code of ethics, and you can find them on the Internet.  The World Tourism Organization has a code for the tourism industry.

Terminology

Terminology

So, you are embarking on a career in hospitality/tourism, and your worried about terminology.  You are in classes, and your professors are using words that are foreign to you, and you wonder what to do.  Read.  The simplest action you could do is read.  I explained to you on the first day of class that you need to read more, that you need to immerse yourselves in the books, in trade publications, even Yahoo, and read, listen to conversations.  Listen to what is going on around you.  Try to rephrase what your professors are expounding on in class, and apply it to the problem at and.  Make your own dictionary and try to use one each day.  Create your own blog and write about these words.  Jot them down in a journal, and see how they relate to each other.

So, terminology:

1.  Read

2. Use them to understand.

3. Use them every day to become familiar.