By: Lizz Chambers
Enthusiasm is sometimes defined as a whole-hearted devotion to an ideal, cause, study or pursuit. One might be said to be enthusiastic if they are excited about that in which they are engaged.
I am a trainer and I must admit that although I have a passion for training and I spend most of my time in the classroom environment attempting to transfer my enthusiasm to attendees there are times that my particular vocation causes me pain. A prime example was the time I had spent four (4) hours teaching a workshop entitled: ‘It’s Show Time’. This is a training workshop for servers. During this workshop the agenda consistented of: Servers: The ‘Front Line’ of Sales; Product Knowledge; Menu Item Presentation and Role Play focusing on enthusiastic selling techniques.
By the end of the training, I was confident in our server’s ability to sell as I witnessed their abilities grow in role play after role play scenario. The room was alive with enthusiasm. I could see them mentally counting their additional tips as they grew more confident in their abilites. As a professional trainer and sales person I was satisfied and I was sure our guests would be too.
A couple of months later when I found myself sitting in the very restaurant whose servers I had trained, accompanied by the hotel General Manager and our company President, I must admit I was a little smug about what was about to happen.
We were approached by one of the server workshop attendees. When the President asked, “How are the crab cakes?’ I was ready for her to take the opportunity and run with it. Instead to my horror I heard, ‘Nobody’s sent ’em back yet’. I know the training session was two months ago, but did nothing stick? Although our management company President was appalled by the response, to add insult to injury the hotel General Manager did not appear to see anything wrong in the server’s answer. The GM’s reaction told me what was wrong and it had nothing to do with my training techniques.
It was apparent that the server had been ‘re-educated’. Apathy, lack of recognition, lack of appreciation and an obvious lack of confidence in the product had killed the server’s enthusiasm before it had a chance to mature into practiced ability. This attitude can run through an organization like a virus and kill any chance for business and personal growth.
As a trainer I am not immune to this virus. However, I have standards for the products I represent and common sense tells me an inferior product and negative attitude eventually reflect in my presentation and productivity.
So, where do we start in ensuring that this virus does not infect our hotels? The most obivious is to focus on the lack of confidence in the product/service and management/owner apathy. The following are a few simple techniques to start to protect your position and contribute to improving problems in product or attitude:
Front Desk Reception- Simply asking, ‘How was everything?’ will only get the standard response ‘Fine’ – instead, try using a ‘One Thing’ log. Ask guests when they check out two questions, (or better yet, during their stay, with a courtesy call and not 15 minutes after check-in, try calling a day or two into their stay) ‘What is one thing you truly enjoy about our hotel?’ and ‘What is one thing we could change that would make your stay more enjoyable?’ and document the responses.
Dining Room- The hostess or server should also keep a version of the ‘One Thing’ log, whether in the form of a two question questionnaire placed on the table or in person when presenting the check. What was one thing you truly enjoyed about your dining experience?’ ‘What was one thing we could change that would have made your dining experience more enjoyable?’
Housekeeping- Room attendants and maintenance staff should be interacting with guests whenever possible. They should also be asking your guests during each interaction the same type of one thing questions and documenting the responses they receive.
Sales Department- Sales Associates should diligently complete lost and cancelled business reports and the reasons. The devil is in the details…so get details. Why did the client not select your hotel? This is your reputation. If you lose a contact or a sale due to something in or out of your control, document the lost business and search for ways to correct the defiencies before it costs you more business.
What about those clients that do love you? Get testimonials and referrals! Exactly what do they love about your hotel? How much are you leaving on the table by not exploring more of the types of markets you do please. You may not be perfect for everyone but each business has its market niche as do hotels. If you are pursuing the type of client with which you have been successful in the past, you will be more confident and therefore much more enthusiastic.
General Hotel Feedback- Where the franchise permits, use in-house comment cards and respond to every response given, positive or negative. Keep a record of all product and service deficiencies mentioned and correct what is within your control and report those issues out of your control to management/owners along with suggested solutions. Avoid verbal reporting of guest concerns as these tend to become diluted in the presentation and the fact there is no backup results in very little, if any, attention.
Lost business reports, cancellation reports, comment card responses, franchise service scores and one thing logs should be reviewed in each staff meeting and complied into an owners report at the end of each month. If it is memorialized in writing, it should get their attention. (Don’t forget to share this information with your entire staff. If they don’t know about it how can they start to correct service issues within their control)
Everybody in a hotel sells. From housekeeping to the sales department, we all must be engaged in convincing someone either to stay the first time or to return. We sell an item on the menu, a hotel room, a meeting room, a banquet function or simply a level of service.
Everybody sells! If your leaders lack this enthusiasm how can you be enthusiastic, how can you possibly convince others to buy if your leaders have ceased to care about their reputation. If your owners/management do not start doing more of what your guests say they enjoy about staying with you and implementing your guests suggestions of the things that would make your hotel a better place to stay then you may have no alternative than to look to other sources for employment… Just because your owners and management may have compromised their values does not mean that you have to follow suit.
As a hotel sales person, no matter what your position, stop whining, take action or start looking. You must take pride in where you work and what you have to offer your guests or you cannot adequately respresent it. When you are proud, natural enthusiasm is the by- product and increased sales is the bottom line.
Nevistas Publishing (http://s.tt/1uA4r)