Every time I am back from a training assignment, I come back with fresh ideas. As we say training is a mindset, it’s the facilitation of knowledge and experience that’s out there with the participants. With adult learners, the process is mutual- you learn from everyone’s experience. The feedback that comes from the participants energises me at the same time, I learn so much from them. I was in Delhi last week, conducting training programs for our managers and supervisors. The Park New Delhi is our ‘Hot Hotel’ from the perspective that out Chairperson is based in the city, moreover the theme of our boutique hotel is the five elements of nature- Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
I had a great stay, engaging conversations and lots of learning in the week that I spent there. Found the people to be warm, surprisingly the weather was pleasant too in the month of May due to the showers that the city received. I was there last time almost 3 years ago and the innovative practises that the hotel had adopted such as using the bathtubs removed from the hotel rooms for gardening, was now delivering great reward. In Fact the vegetables that were grown were used for the lovely meal I had at the Fire, our signature restaurant serving organic food. Chef Ajay Jain curated an organic Indian thali for me, I loved everything about the dining experience – decor, service, ambiance and above all food that just tasted right with innovations and a bit of a twist added in it for the palate by the talented chef.
Link to the blog that I wrote on my last visit:
The hotel was quite busy with full occupancy and banquets hosting events everyday. But I had full house in my training sessions and received exceptional service during my stay, be it the caring housekeeping or the thoughtful restaurant staff. It reiterates my belief in creating memorable experiences for the guests and our hotels do that with panache.
Met the hotel HODs during lunch breaks- it is always a pleasure to catch up on the latest trends from the people who are in operations. I am specially interested in people trends and it was really a fruitful opportunity to talk to the HR Manager Mr. Bahl. The Training Manager of the hotel, Ms. Ritika Malhotra ensured that I got ample opportunities to do what I expressed in my conversation with her, taking cues here and there she did a brilliant job. On the latest in the Rooms Division I managed to catch up with Mrs. Vaneeta Arora who I have always felt not only shares knowledge but much more; life lessons as well. It’s a pleasure meeting her. Was equally delighted to finally meet the dynamic GM Mr. Rohit Arora as well as the Management Trainees posted there. Vaishali Katal did the show around and shared a beautiful note, could see the Management Trainees learning and evolving on their way to becoming resourceful managers.
I simply loved the handwritten welcome note by the Housekeeping team, it took me back to an old blog of mine written a long time ago where I highlighted the importance of experiencing the product that you deliver. Being a trainer it’s important for me as I can talk about my experiences in my training sessions; they become stories and anecdotes.
Infact one of such experiences was when Ms. Paul shared that she wanted us to do much more than just teach. Those have been words of encouragement and great feedback at the same time that I have carried with me.
When we create experiences for our guests, our staff needs to fully understand that so they in turn can deliver the best service possible. Lets see how? I am on both the sides of the table as a guest and then a trainer; so I become the customer of the product and the staff myself.
A business keeps its customers by treating them Right every time!
A consistently superior customer experience cultivates guest loyalty, strengthens the brand value and helps generate better revenues. It also turns the customers into fans or the advocates of the company. In today’s extremely competitive market, it’s just not enough to have the best product at affordable price but requires much more. To survive , sustain and progress; the business must deliver a great customer experience what we call a ‘wow’ in our hotels. Hotels must deliver what guest wants in the best way possible.
In my hospitality career, spanning over two decades , I have met people; right from the entry level staff to the General Managers and Managing Directors. All these interactions have been extremely fruitful; each one has been a learning experience. When I joined as a Management trainee with a reputed 5 star hotel I got to learn a lot about hotel operations that I hadn’t learned in my student days. Also it brought about a few questions on my mind. When working in the housekeeping department I came across Room attendants who were on the job for over 25 years. They were good in what they were doing but didn’t understand some finer nuances of their job. I always wondered why and started looking out for those answers.
I have seen Room attendants who haven’t ever used the rooms that they made. For that matter, even the Executives or Housekeepers may have worked in the same property for many years but would’ve never stayed a day in the hotel room. They would’ve never experienced the services that they provide to the others. When it comes to the chefs and the kitchen staff they have to test and then taste the dishes on the menu. The same applies to the Food and Beverage Service staff, each dish or a drink is reviewed before it finally sees itself on the menu card. But we don’t look at the room as a product. In fact it’s a product that gives the highest revenue to the hotel. It deserves the same level of commitment that goes for the items on the menu. The Guestroom is the customer’s personal space for the time that he is staying at the hotel. Housekeeping staff are the eyes and ears of the hotel as they get the first hand feedback of the guest experience.
Housekeeping staff need to know what happens when they make the bed a bit tighter, or ignore certain areas while dusting. Sometimes the guest gets no soap and at other times two, or no shower gel but two shampoos printed with writing that is so small making it difficult to read. Guest keeps certain amenities in the place of his convenience but while cleaning the room the attendant may put them away at a different place that being the standard for placement of amenities. This can get annoying for the guest. We need to maintain our standards at the same time be sensitive to guest likes. Whereas this situation can be altered if we make our Housekeeping staff stay in the hotel room for a day to experience the services and understand the product that they deliver. They’ll learn about the aspects that they need to focus on or areas that they can’t afford to overlook. For instance when lying down on the bed the guest can see below the writing table, if it is dusty, it is visible to him. Whereas while checking the room Housekeeping staff may have overlooked. Similarly while having a bath the guest can see the areas below the vanity counter and the WC. So these areas require the same attention as the vanity counter or the mirror. All these add up to the guest experience that the attendant will be able to visualise.
Paying attention to details makes all the difference when we try to achieve excellence. It’s not the 98% we do but the 2% that we don’t has an impact on the guest experiences. Employees need to know what the 2% comprise of and that will come only with experiencing it. It is applicable to almost all departments and verticals of a business. Front Office or Sales and Marketing that sell the product need to know it well too. The key is to make the staff experience the product that they deliver –be it food, drinks, guestroom or it’s facilities. Thus they can deliver impeccable products and services.
This has been my takeaway this time around along with some extremely encouraging feedback from the participants in the two workshops that I conducted at The Park New Delhi.