The Biggest Surprise in Las Vegas

A friend of mine just returned from a vacation trip to Las Vegas.

The first thing she told me was how nice her hotel was. I pressed her and asked, “What did you like about it?”

You’ll never guess. Even before mentioning the restaurants, she told me about the remote control shades in their room.


The whole city of Las Vegas, and she mentions some mechanical blinds?

Enter the Kano Model. I recently wrote a guest post on this for Bill Quiseng’s blog.

“Delighters” are those are the elements of the experience which are not expected, but bring high value to our guests.

Yesterday I discussed the importance of the basics…the “must-haves”. Without these, the guest is upset. A flushing toilet is a must-have. So is a bed.

Any idiot can run a hotel that satisfies the basics (bed, toilet, etc), and many do. But if you’re a cut above the rest, it’s time to start focusing on those delighters.

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The Flat Tire

I don’t know much about bikes, but I could tell this was a nice one.

Two water bottles. An attached pump. Storage bags.

The biker himself was equally outfitted with a helmet, gloves, and biker clothes.

So why did I notice this guy? I noticed him because he wasn’t riding his bike; he was pushing it.

Two words: flat tire

I’ve been in beautiful hotels and some great restaurants, with all the bells and whistles, as they say.

But here is the undeniable truth: without the basics, the bells and whistles are always useless.

Your guests know when your operation is being pushed along, like a bike with a flat tire. They can feel those things. So can you.

Bill Marriott said, “Don’t get bored with the basics.” It’s all useless without them.

Posted in Guest Experience, Service Excellence | 5 Comments

Communicating with your team: the “why” and the “how”

Here in the United States, we’re heading into what will hopefully be a busy week for hospitality as we welcome vacationing guests into our hotels, resorts, restaurants, and stores.

A primary responsibility of hospitality leaders—often neglected during peak weeks such as this—is communication. I want to quickly walk you through how to effectively communicate with your team so nothing gets missed.

There is a lot of day-to-day variation in hospitality, but there is very little novelty. A good leader can predict what will happen on a given day, just not when, where or how. Great leaders anticipate events and communicate appropriately.

Planning Communication

I meet with my manager semi-weekly. Between meetings, as I come across things I want to talk with her about, I throw those notes and documents into a folder on my desk. When it’s time to meet, I already have a collection of everything in one place.

You can do the same for topics you’d like to communicate with your team. Or, make a list in your DayTimer, or perhaps record notes into your phone on the drive home.

The point is this: when you think of it, record it. When you’re drafting communication to your team, you won’t remember something you thought of last week.

What do I communicate?

This differs based on your role and business, but a few general ideas for hospitality operations:

  • Priorities and expectations of upper management.  Everyone needs to know what senior leaders in your organization are focused on, so they can focus too.
  • Results and forecasts. Recap the previous week/month’s results, and identify areas of strength and opportunity. Provide perspective into projections for the upcoming week(s).
  • Guest-centered updates. What do you want your team sharing with your guests? Might it relate to high-margin, revenue-driving opportunities (i.e. lobby bar entertainment) or special events? Are there events occurring nearby, outside your property, that guests would like to know about?
  • Awards and recognition. Recognize team members who have done great things. Enough said.

How do I communicate?

  • Notice boards
  • Pre-shift meetings
  • Just-in-time coaching

Be deliberate in your communication. Your team will thank you for it!

Posted in Leading and Managing, Training and Development, Your Team | Leave a comment

Clear Expectations

I’ve noticed there’s an aversion in our culture to setting clear expectations, and it is happening at great personal and professional cost. I believe it is the direct cause of a lot of the issues we have in our businesses and with our children.

There are several reasons we do not communicate clear expectations:

  • The “Who am I to tell them what to do?” attitude (i.e., “it’s their life, they suffer the consequences”)
  • The “Maybe they know better than me and I don’t want to limit their freedom/creativity” attitude.
  • The “They should know better!” (“Darned kids!”) attitude
  • The “I told them yesterday and I don’t want to tell them again” attitude

These are all great excuses, aren’t they? And whom among us hasn’t resorted to them?

The message to managers: get over it!

Management is the act of controlling. The word “manage” comes from the Italian “maneggiare”, meaning “to handle”, specifically referring to handling horses.

I find it ironic that we have managers complaining to each other about their team members’ performance when this performance deficiency is due to the manager’s inability to do his job. (His job being communicating the clear expectations).

I’ll stop there. This is a topic that does not need belabored explanation; it needs action.

Posted in Leading and Managing, Training and Development, Your Team | 2 Comments

Great Leaders are Great Followers, too

A young woman was completing her college application and came across a question that asked, “Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, “No,” and returned the application. She expected the worst.

The reply from the college surprised her:

“Dear applicant: A study of the admission forms reveals that this year our school will enroll 1,452 new leaders. We would like to accept you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”

Humble pie goes well with a rich meal.

I heard once that West Point has produced more leaders than the Harvard Business School. Not sure if it’s true or not, but in the United States Military Academy, officers are taught to become effective followers first. It’s a lesson worth emulating.

Posted in Leading and Managing, Training and Development, Your Team | Leave a comment