The flip side of a luxury hotel

Image Source: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – HI

On my first blog post, I talked about having faced many challenges working for a hotel. You may be wondering what can be so challenging about working at some of the most gorgeous and pleasant places on the face of our planet.

Looking from outside, it may seem like working for luxury hotels might be a walk in the park. Always surrounded by nothing but the best, covered by beauty and so many elements to entertain our senses in ways we could never dream about… working with people who are kind, generous and have true passion for making others happy… are a few perks of being in this industry, no doubt….

But despite the amazing set-up, human life takes place 24/7, 365 days a year. When a person walks into a hotel, their whole lives also arrive with them. Whether if they had a fantastic day, or if they are living through some of the toughest moments ever, will definitely impact the way we interact.

At a hotel, people have fun, enjoy great family moments, celebrate business accomplishments… people get engaged, people celebrate life… but life is far from being a full time celebration. We all know that the shady moments have to be lived, so that we grow, build character, and learn to appreciate life. So, rest assured… people also fight, get divorced, get ill, come to be with their loved ones for months, while they are in medical treatment, people loose deals, jobs, relationships and even life sometimes… everything can happen at a hotel.

And if you think that, at the same time this is happening to your guests, this is also happening to the team who serves them… perhaps it would get easier to understand some of the challenges we go through. An upset guest does not want to know if you just lost a loved person… you are there to serve, to solve, to find the room with de blue decor, just as he would prefer, with a smile on your face, and to understand that, for him, this is the most important thing in the world right now. There is no putting things into perspective. This requires a lot of empathy, a lot of self control and definitely being able to leave your problems behind, just for a few hours, so you can do that whole hearted.

At a hotel, nothing can wait. Things are happening now… regardless if your colleague showed up to work or called in sick, the event will go on, the group will arrive, the dinner is going to happen, rooms have to be clean to perfection. Virtually nothing can wait.

At a hotel, when you work in operations, you share desks, you share computers, you share drawers. After all, if you do the early shift, once you leave, someone else will take over. And then a third one will use the space before you come back to your next shift. When you arrive, the challenges you were dealing with are solved. New ones have appeared. Some have escalated. Nothing is where you first left. And that requires a great deal of flexibility and an open mind to be able to understand where we are at, so you can continue through the day.

Working at a hotel is not only smiling while acting in the public areas. A great deal of administrative, planning, managerial and strategic work is performed at the back office. And regardless of how concentrated you are in building that complex spreadsheet… if duty calls, you will need to leave that for later, attend to the guests needs immediately. But the deadlines will not be rolled for that reason. In fact, punctuality is an important value in this industry… so a hotelier must be fast, must be able to multitask, must be extremely good at planing and very, very organized.

Hoteliers need to have many different skills developed: their ability to communicate, to solve problems, to generate opportunity out of adversity, just to mention a few. A lot of planning is required so you can put your team through all of the necessary training programs and, yet, make sure you are providing your guests with a flawless experience.

Regardless of how much you plan, you cannot control human behaviour. And sometimes it will just happen that everyone decides to go to the bar at the same exact time. When you ask a colleague call for help, you drop what you are doing and you go buzz and set tables, refill side-stations, and give all the support you can to your fellow department. And you know you will be able to count on them when the volume hits your desk. At a hotel, teamwork saves the day.

To work at a hotel, you must love what you do, or else, you will not survive the first month… this is an industry that requires your every effort to overcome your shadows, to learn how to deal with your difficulties, to exercise your weakest muscles.

I am glad I have spent 15 years in this industry. They taught me a lot about the human being, about how to be a good leader, how to build trust and engagement, how to serve the teams that relied on my lead. It is a very humbling experience to be part of a hotel team.

And this is just a bit about the flip side of this beautiful coin. Once you get in contact with all of this, you come to appreciate even more the magical experiences that you are exposed to when staying at an amazing hotel.

So, this was one of the motivations that we had, when we decided to open Mandarina: to bring these amazing client experiences to clients of every type of business.

We would love to hear about amazing service stories that you might have experienced anywhere. A retail store, a movie theatre, your favourite coffee place, the doctor’s office… it doesn’t matter. Service is service, people are people, and a great experience is a great experience, regardless of what type of business you are in contact with.

Can you share a memorable service experience you had?

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