Crash diets and good habits
I loved this piece from Robert J Nyman on HotelInteractive. We make a point at Chanters Lodge to write to each and every Guest, or their agent, following their stay, thanking them for choosing our lodge, and indeed do so in our reservation confirmations as well.
As a child I was brought up to fear the consequences from my parents of not saying ‘thank you’, and indeed ‘thank you’ letters were a frequent chore! It’s much easier now with e mail.
As far as the staff are concerned the Chanters Girls are very good at replying ‘you’re welcome’ when Guests and visitors thank them for their great service! I also try to make it a point to thank the staff for their long hours and hard work – often on our regular Sunday night radio show – nothing like letting the public know you appreciate the great work of the staff! And public support for that matter!
“Call me old fashioned or maybe even fashionable these days, but you can decide once you take the following into consideration. Business is tough enough without making waves, or so I am told, but when did saying ‘Thank You’ become so difficult for us to realize the most basic of common courtesies? I know each day in the restaurants and hotels we visit, I continue to be amazed at the amount of different types of people I interface with and how I am greeted, spoken to (or not) and what happens when I initiate a conversation with them. I know we are all busy and caught up with our own life and issues – but there is no excuse for not being personable or polite, as we in the ‘Hospitality Industry.’ When did Please, Thank You and You’re Welcome go out of style or leave our daily vernacular? I have always believed a smile and simple polite greeting go a long way in our world and can make the difference.
Recently, I needed to make an airline reservation using a certificate I had, that could not be used or booked online, which in today’s digital age many of us utilize. So I called the reservation number and waited in the cue for an agent to answer my call. The agent introduced herself as Judy and referred to me by Mr. Nyman, I then asked her to please call me Robert, which she then ‘thanked me for’ and continued to address me by my first name. We finalized all of my reservation needs, then Judy thanked me for my business and then I thanked her for assisting me. Before we both said goodbye, she asked if she could tell me something, she stated I was one of the few customers who took their time to say thank you in return!
It got me thinking; something I have always done and we continually train our clients’ staff to do is to thank the guest, but now I realize that is only half of the equation. When do we as restaurant and hotel guests thank the people who are taking care of us for the work they do, especially when they go out of their way to be helpful, polite or as some say the ‘extra mile?’
My challenge is to change the persona of the Hospitality Industry and our guests/customers and make it a two way street, or should I say make it into a full equation. Just like we didn’t say the phase ‘you know’ as an answer or comment when we were speaking to someone, until just a few years ago, maybe the words Please, Thank You and Your Welcome could become as prevalent in our business again as most of us were raised to say them.
In every pre-shift meeting you have with your staff, instead of just talking to the team, maybe use please to preface a request and when a staff member offers a comment, say thank you and maybe they will even start to say you’re welcome – if you start the ball rolling. If you’re in a hotel and walking the guest room hallways, and see a housekeeper or maintenance person, a quick greeting and thank you, will most likely make their day, as they are one of the areas of the hotel that guests seem typically not to verbally acknowledge or get a simple greeting. When you have your management or executive team assembled, make it a ‘brand standard’ to address each other with please versus just talking at one another and then a sincere thank you at the end of each conversation. At the end of a shift or if a person is leaving for the day, rather than just say goodbye, go around and personally thank each team member and maybe they will do the same for their fellow workers or better yet for your guests!
This might all sound corny to some of you, but remember, we are trying to change the perception and attitude for each and every person who dines in your restaurants, stays in your hotels, uses or buys your products but it will take some time, and if we learn to address each other first with common courtesy, it will become contagious. Or just call me old fashioned and call it a day.
“Work smarter, not harder.”
What happens when you say that to me?
One: You imply I’m stupid.
“There is no ‘I’ in team.”
Sure there is. There are as many “I”s as team members. Those individuals, the more “individual” the better, serve to make the team stronger. The best teams are often a funky blend of the talents, the perspectives… and the individual goals of each person.
If you want a team to work hard and achieve more, make sure each person feels she can not only achieve the team’s goal but also one of her own goals. Spend time figuring out how each individual on the team can do both… instead of taking the lazy way out by simply repressing individuality in the pursuit of the collective.
“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Fate had nothing to do with it. Something went wrong. Figure out what went wrong and learn from it.
“Oh… it wasn’t meant to be…” is not just lazy but also places responsibility elsewhere.
“Oh… but let’s figure out what we can do next time…” is empowering and places the responsibility where it should be: on you.
“That’s probably not what you want to hear.”
It sucks to hear bad news, no doubt. But when you say that something isn’t what I want to hear you shift the issue over to my side of the table. Somehow it’s become my problem. Don’t shift. Explain why you made a decision. Explain the logic. Explain your reasoning.
I still may not want to hear it… but that way the focus remains on the issue and not on me.
“Perception is reality.”
Yeah, yeah, I know: How I perceive something is my version of reality, no matter how wrong my perception may be.But if other people perceive a reality differently than you, work to change that perception. Make reality the reality.
Besides, perceptions are fleeting and constantly changing. Reality lasts forever… or at least until a new reality comes along to replace it.
“We want your feedback.”
You see and hear a similar line everywhere: websites, signs, meetings…
Don’t be passive if you truly want feedback. Don’t “make it easy” for people to provide. Go get it. Be active.
People who really want feedback take responsibility for getting that feedback–they don’t wait to receive it.
“Do it now and apologize later.”
You’re not a bold, daring risk-taker; you’re lazy and self-indulgent. Good ideas are rarely stifled. People like better; if they don’t like your idea, the problem usually isn’t them: It’s you.
Don’t take the easy way out. Describe what you want to do. Prove it makes sense. Get people behind you.
Then whatever you do has a much better chance of succeeding.
“Failure is not an option.”
This one is often used by a leader who gets frustrated and wants to shut down questions about a debatable decision or a seemingly impossible goal: “Listen, folks, failure is simply not an option.” (Strikes table or podium with fist.)
Failure is always a possibility. Just because you say it isn’t doesn’t make it so.
Don’t reach for a platitude. Justify your decisions. Answer the hard questions.
If you can’t, maybe your decision isn’t so wise after all.
“Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”
Because hey, your wheel might turn out to be a better wheel… which means my wheel wasn’t so great.
And we can’t have that.
“It is what it is.”
Here’s another shutdown statement. “It is what it is,” really means, “I’m too lazy to try to make it different… so for gosh sakes stop talking about it.”
“It is what it is” is only true if you take the easy way out by letting “it” remain “it.”
Paying Attention to the Details: Every luxury hotel guest expects comfortable and elegant accommodations, a broad array of food choices, and service efficiencies. What sets these Asian properties apart are details normally not seen stateside. Some examples include: newspapers delivered with gloves to avoid ink stains on your hands; rather than pillow-chocolates, a small cake at turndown service; notes handed out in leather folders; multiple amenity packages including full shaving and dental kits; jewelry boxes inside the room safe; a stationery kit of goodies to help handle minor business requirements; in-room espresso maker (not just a coffeemaker); multiple lighting configurations for various times of day and ambiance; a unique two-piece martini glass set; contribution envelopes to support local charities as a deposit for your coin change; and proper folios for your departure invoice.
Continuous Innovation: These properties continue to test new ways of improving their guest relationships through product enhancements. In one hotel, they were experimenting with a dedicated floor for couples. Another property was testing new menus. Still another was encouraging customers to create wild, new drink combinations.
Expert Maintenance to Support Quality Construction: As expected, the woods, marble and granite used for room furnishings were all immaculate. While the properties ranged in age from 7 to over 20 years old, they all have the feeling of a newly opened hotel. This was largely a result of superb maintenance levels. No visible marks or scuffs were noted on door frames or hallway corners. Upholstery was fresh, both in look and smell. All electronics were up-to-date and far beyond what is the norm for North America.
MTN came to Nigeria at a time when nobody wanted to invest in Nigeria, at a time when Nigerians did not have phones. Even Zenith Bank refused to lend MTN cash to operate, UBA rejected MTN’s offer – but today see the difference. Millions of Nigerians, and Africans have cell phones and many use MTN!
And, we all know the story of the only civilian unelected President in Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan. We know how people said he was not going to be President, they even made him acting President. Today the rest is history!
What about Cowbell? When they came to Nigeria, they made milk in a sachet. Peak laughed at them – they said Cowbell was milk for the poor and they were right! 3 million poor people could afford N10 a day for a sachet of milk. Do the math – 3 million people buying milk at N10.00- that was N30million every single day. In a month they grossed N900million (almost N1billion). Even Peak have had to make sachet milk in order to survive in the market.
So what have people told you? What have they said you cannot do, that you are not qualified to do, or for that matter do not have the experience to do? They told Cowbell, they told Goodluck, they told MTN, but today the story has changed.
Success is not about where you graduated from, but what graduates from you!
Keep the spirit!
I enjoyed this one from Mr. Larry Mogelonsky – CHA, on HotelInteractive for you hoteliers out there!
“Here’s a marketing creed that was scribed into textbooks well over 30 years ago, back when I was an MBA student: People connect with other people, and not necessarily with businesses. For a long time, this wasn’t exactly feasible. Even in the hospitality world where personality is king, managers meeting customers on a one-to-one basis wasn’t always in the cards.
Nowadays though, sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are paving the way for a resurgence of quality communication from management directly down to the consumer. But look closely at this practice: nothing has really changed. Even with the leaps and bounds of electronic messaging systems, people still crave that personal touch.
Hence the title. Whenever, or wherever, you can get your guests to ‘meet the managers,’ you’re not only giving your hotel a real face, but drastically enhancing client retention. With this in mind, social media presents both a challenge and opportunity to accomplish this task.
The challenge is that managers have to commit themselves to a role in the public eye, albeit even when reluctant. People are the new brand; no longer just the hotel logo and top brass. What managers say on their personal online accounts is now intrinsically linked to their respective properties, whether for good or for bad. Luckily, many have already found the opportunity within this trend, harnessing these new channels to build stronger personal connections and grow their businesses.
Obvious from the introduction, embracing social media is imperative for this process, but a first step should always involve a trip to HR to see whose job descriptions might curtail social media responsibilities. From there the answer is in the specifics, so let’s go through a few choice techniques I’ve seen work in recent years.
When it comes to LinkedIn, every manager should have an account and join your company group. Although the site is chiefly for professional networking, it will open your staff to a worldwide forum for business ideas, emerging trends and potential partnerships.
Twitter offers a host of options for building these bridges. For your generic company account, only one or two people should be tasked with posting material, giving them space to add some zest and initialize direct messages. Next, talk to your managers about their own profiles and how they would use the site to converse with guests. The idea here is to form person-to-person connections; something much harder to accomplish when a guest converses with a faceless corporate account.
The prospects are good for Facebook, too. You can easily design a tab to introduce each manager (with a picture) or even build a custom fan page for each department and link them all to the main page. Managers should also be active participants on the wall, commenting on what fans are saying as well as providing original insights.
Blogging is the fourth big one here. Most blog content management systems allow you to designate regular columns authored by specific staff members. You’d be surprised how far the phrase ‘By XX Manager’ goes when at the end of an entry. Or, you could even run a ‘Manager of the Month’ editorial to highlight your team’s characters and fun stories.
The online possibilities are aplenty; even including video which I did not previously discuss. But to me, however, they are just a launch pad. You still have to find ways to squeeze in some face-to-face time for maximal efficacy.
To start, personalized greeting letters should be in every room; the power of a handwritten note working its charm. Seeing managers in the lobby welcoming guests is another powerful statement, especially when it comes to a VIP arrival or a group coordinator. A sharp uniform can exacerbate their presence, too. Beyond that, you have to get creative.
Look to what your hotel offers and to where staff might interact with customers. If you run a golf resort, how about a tournament where guests are paired with managers? Perhaps a manager could greet and eat with patrons at the lobby bar. How about a follow-up phone call after a guest has left? Not only are these personal, but they’re great avenues for constructive feedback.
So, what I suggest is you sit down with your fellow managers and discuss your strategy for heightening interactions with guests; both online and face-to-face in a winning combination. Have a plan and stick to it. Sure, it’s a lot of effort, but the rewards are definitely worth it.”
Good advice in my opinion!
Answering Milli Jam’s rapid fire questions, Godfridah told listeners that she’d been with 107.7 fm for a year, originally having been employed as a senior producer, but quickly promoted to production and programmes manager. Following a short course in Kasama in the north of Zambia (from where Godfridah actually hails), she was promoted to acting station manager, a position she’d now been holding down for a few months. Milli Jam – who should know these things – asked Godfridah if it was difficult handling DJ’s and broadcasters with big egos, seeing she was not only young, but also female. She replied that although it was challenging, she believed that if you loved your job, were hard working and committed as well as willing to learn, things would go well. She believed in consultation and respect for others.
Godfridah told listeners that she was a graduate of the University of Zambia in mass communications and development studies – she’d been selected to join 107.7 fm following a request from the station to the University department for the name of the hardest working, brightest graduate on her course!
The guys played some great music! Lionel Ritchie with Billy Currington ‘Just For You’ opened proceedings – a track from Lionel’s latest Tuskagee album. This was coupled with Alexandra Burke’s ‘Elephant’. The local selections included Macky 2 featuring P-Jay with ‘Landlord’ back to back with B1’s ‘Mr Perfecto’. Milli Jam chose Nicky Minaj’s ‘Young Forever’ coupled with ‘Bright Lights’ from Tinchy Stryder featuring Pixie Lott. His ‘oldie of the week’ was ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ by Mase and Brandy, and the prize for the first person to text us telling us who was singing the track was quickly snapped up! George’s pick of the week was JK featuring Hanni with ‘Pistol’ – and it’s hot!
Godfridah told listeners that she was single, had one daughter Kalaba, aged 1 year and 9 months, currently being cared for by her mum in Kasama. When she was not working she loved to read, mostly Christian and motivational books. She intended to start her own programme on 107.7 fm – ‘Winning Women’ – very soon. She declared herself passionate about the affairs of women and children in society. When it came to sport Godfridah told listeners that she had little interest in soccer but loved volleyball – she was a keen player before she became a mum! On the subject of music, Godfridah told us her taste is ‘Zambian through and through’.
Asked where should would like to be and what she would like to be doing 10 years from now, she replied that she would like to be married with another child, holding a masters in development studies, as well as having her own business. I, for one, would not bet against that!
Asked about her plans for the future, this serious minded, hard working, married British lady (she had greeted husband Pete listening to the programme live back in UK) told listeners that she hoped to be able to expand her business and therefore be able to grow her charity work and other interests. “Great!” We said.
Here’s another one from a Facebook friend:
A young lady was waiting for her flight in the VIP lounge of a big airport. As she’d need to wait many hours she decided to buy a book to read to pass the time. She also bought a packet of biscuits. She sat down in an armchair to rest and read in peace. Beside the armchair where the packet of biscuits lay, a man sat down in the next seat, opened his magazine and started to read.
When the young lady took the first biscuit out of the packet, the man in the next chair took one also. She felt irritated but said nothing. She just thought: “What a nerve! If I was in the mood I’d punch him for daring to do that!” For each biscuit she took, the man took one too. This was infuriating her but she didn’t want to cause a scene.
When only one biscuit remained, she thought: “Ah! What will this irritating chap do now?” The man, took the last biscuit, divided it into half and gave her one half. That was too much! She was now very angry! In a huff, she insulted the man, took her book and her things and stormed to the boarding area to catch her plane. When she sat down in her seat inside the plane, she looked in her bag to take out her spectacles and to her surprise, her packet of biscuits was there untouched and unopened!
She felt so ashamed. She realized that she was wrong and that she’d forgotten that her biscuits were still in her bag. The man had shared his biscuits with her, without feeling angry or bitter while she’d been very angry thinking she was sharing her biscuits with him and now there was no chance to explain herself or to apologize.
The moral of the story?
There are 4 things that you cannot recover.
– The stone after the throw…the word after it’s said…the occasion after the loss and the time after it’s gone. So always be careful and patient!
As a Gunner (Arsenal supporter) Kay Jay was inordinately proud of having shaken hands with Robin van Persie when he was in Holland. We were very jealous! He also met, hugged and we suspect fell in love with Doutzen Kroes the gorgeous Dutch super model. More jealousy on our part!In 10 years time Kay Jay told listeners he wanted to have his own business, a Phd and a wife and family.
Great ambitions, great guest, great show!