Making a Difference in Your Hotel Culture

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” That’s a quote by Tom Brokaw and it’s one of my favorite quotes. I trained myself to keep it in mind when I start my day, and then in late afternoon or evening I reflect on it by asking the question, “Today, did I make a difference?”

I am not talking about altering the entire course of someone’s life or finishing a task worthy of the annals of history books. No, that’s unrealistic. Instead, it’s the little things that count, and part of our job as hotel managers and executives is realizing that we can make a difference for the better in the lives of those closest to us through simple, recurrent actions. And I’m just talking about how courteous and attentive you are with your guests, but more importantly the ways that you can subtly motivate your staff to perform optimally.

After all, when your team is at its best and you have incubated a corporate culture of respect, then everything else – be it operations, guest satisfaction or new initiatives – will all fall into place. To help you understand how you can motivate your associates through easy and minor adjustments, here are ten ideas to get you started.

1. Smile. It’s amazing what a difference a smile makes. It lets your guests and associates know that you are approachable and that you care without saying a word. No matter how bad your day is, if you can force a smile it won’t be long until you can feel the change. Then when people start smiling back, it gets easier. And guess what? It’s contagious!

2. Sincere compliments. Who doesn’t like to hear something nice? From admiring a piece of jewelry to a comment on the behavior or appearance of someone’s child, a compliment elicits a positive response from even the grumpiest person.

3. Go beyond what someone expects. Guests and staff members alike bring certain expectations to us every day. We can fall short, meet them or exceed them. When we fall short, there is a certain level of disappointment. When we meet them, then that was what was expected, so who cares? However, when we exceed them, we make their day and ours just a little brighter.

4. Send a personal note. To express thanks for a kindness, send a handwritten thank you to a guest (not every letter needs to come from the manager by the way) or a note to an associate just because you appreciate them. Such a simple gesture can make a difference in nearly anyone’s day.

5. Ask someone about their goals. When was the last time someone asked you what you wanted out of life or out of your career? We don’t ask that often enough. If you are a supervisor and you haven’t asked this of every member of your team then shame on you! We should measure our success by how many people we have helped succeed and not just by our own personal success.

6. Help someone take a step toward accomplishing their goals. Once you know your associates’ goals, try to help them to take a step toward accomplishing them. It may be by offering to work a different shift so they can attend a class or by ensuring they get the training necessary to advance. As a supervisor or manager, never forget that you are also a facilitator for growth and intellectual development.

7. Make a vow each morning to give something away that day. Then actually do it! I don’t mean literally or strictly of a physical nature; it may be a smile, appreciation, a compliment, encouragement or praise.

8. Love what you do. If you love what you do and feel that it matters, you can’t help but make a difference. This type of enthusiasm is contagious. Your associates feel it and want to be around you. Your guests feel it and think, “Wow, did I choose the right place to stay or what?”

9. Understand that different people have different motivators. During your property orientation, pass around a questionnaire to be completed by each associate. Questions may be as simple as asking what their favorite color is, their favorite food or restaurant, or what they would do if they had a day to pamper themselves. Then tailor awards to how those individual responses. It means so much more if thought went into the award.

10. What this all comes down to is caring about those around us. Caring about the people we spend a lot of time with, the people we work with day after day and the guests who by their presence ensure that we continue to get paid for doing what we love. Make a difference in someone’s life every day and it will make a difference in your life as well.

By Lizz Chambers, CHA/CHE