There must be something surely, that we can keep up at, so as to be able to leave just when we want to, on a positive note, with a warm handshake and a promise to meet again at another crossroad. Could the following be some of the important things we can do to keep our jobs
The dynamics of businesses are in a constant state of change. Innovations and the latest R&D ensure that we must continually upgrade our product. Further, wide exposure, varied experiences, cross-cultural influences and personal demands bring about frequent changes in the needs and desires of the guests. They are demands that products and facilities, endorsed by the guests, must meet and satisfy.
Furthermore, the profile of our customers keeps changing – we not only keep adding new segments to our guest pie but even the existing customers bring in their bagful of new wishes and expectations.
Suffice it to say that our business is in a consistent cycle of evolution. Therefore we, as significant cogs in the wheel, must stay relevant and ready to address these changes that spell growth.
Keep your contact database updated
Regardless of the changes in the way we communicate and stay in touch in these digitally-heightened times, a rolodex or the cards-holder as a time-tested contraption to help us stay connected will never go out of fashion; as long as we continue to display our professional identities through our 'calling cards.'
In hotels, a lot of people do each other's jobs which were heretofore considered traditional territories. Think Sales, Public Relations, Guest Services. Now, reflect on how many times a
Front Office clerk or a Housekeeping executive has initiated a deal! With this sort of multi-functionality at play, a professional is most dynamic when he keeps his rolodex ship-shape, weeded out and up to speed with any fluctuation in his contact database.
And who is the smartest sales person It is the one who cross intersects the contact base from various departments, collects gems of information and reaps benefit by mining it wisely.
I have outsmarted myself on two distinct scores at different places of work. As a Media Relations Officer at the Australian Diplomatic Mission in India, I set about creating a magnum opus of a media list. Apart from the regular suspects, the list also had residence address and number, spouse name, birth date and anniversary date. Of course, it was a time consuming exercise and done without the help of an assistant (the High Comm. had a no secretary policy).
I, often, insisted on speaking with the targeted journalist / editor to get the information. At the end of it, I had invested enough time to get to know the person better. 'The' list, indeed, paved the way for fostering a great relationship. To this day, well 20 years after, I still count a lot of people on that list as good friends or business associates as the case may be.
Another time, I made an ambitious plan to make a giant database of guest contacts, pooling information from my own office, the General Manager's, Sales, Front Office, F&B and the Guest Relations departments. I set about putting all relevant information – from likes and dislikes to allergies and tiniest of preferences. Of course information on important dates in the guest's life was de rigueur.
And to make it one mean list, I also put all the relevant data around the guest's virtual avatar. A list, such as this, kept in its most healthy and up-to-date condition is an extremely potent arsenal for conducting the business of hoteliering.
The database is only as good as the use it is put to. A good list of contacts that is allowed to sit out for long and gather dust is a career-killer.
In most businesses, but primarily in industries such as hospitality, Networking is simply butter to our bread, with the propensity to elevate a simple interaction to a business proposition.
There is a plethora of people to network with – colleagues from other departments, team mates from sister hotels in the chain, most definitely guests – all kinds viz. room, restaurant, Spa or those visiting any other facility offered by your hotel, the media, members of the fraternity, community folk, people from allied industries – travel agents, government bodies, tour operators, tourism boards and international travel associations.
I find networking to be one of the best real-time teachers, imparting valuable lessons that you imbibe both consciously and subliminally. Besides, networking keeps you in the circuit, ensures top of the mind recall for you and your brand and provides a ready track for two-way information sharing.
Finally, in the present times of one-touch, instant communication, there is no excuse for not staying networked with the right audience. The only downside of this, perhaps, maybe that you must watch for the overkill!
Keep your ears, eyes and mind open
The above should, in any case, be a mantra for your life in general. It, undoubtedly, pays richly to keep your senses sharp, soaking in important information, new knowledge and experiences as you go up and along.
While at work in a people-rich environment, you must be aware of the concentric and intersecting circles the human equations work in. You must learn to accept peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, be receptive of behavioural differences, take the high road more often than not and be a great team player in the dynamics of the disparate smorgasbord of attitudes and aspirations.
Keeping your ears and eyes open also helps you be in touch with the grapevine – certainly an inevitable, irresistible and often the main source of information regarding important goings-on and changes in the offing.
But the most important thing is to keep your mind open and be amenable to changes, novel additions to your work life, new colleagues, new way of doing things and of the evolutionary aspect of business as it gets ready to fight new competition and meet its vision headlong.
Learn new techniques, tricks and tactics
As time goes, we stay in a continuous state of churning. Everyone and everything – our vision, our projection, the way we do our business, demands on us, guest expectation, technology, creative influences, benchmarks, our aspirations from the brand value and the bottom line – yes, we all are in a state of upward progression.
That is why we must be perpetual learners, adding new skills to our repertoire. As a PR Specialist, I know that I must become adept at the social media, website management, SEO, photo editors, publishing tools, webinars, video conferencing, virtual meets et. al.
A Sales resource must be as proficient in the traditional sales strategies as in Digital marketing, TripAdvisor, Reputation and Social media management, prompt addressing of comments left behind on the Company website or elsewhere.
It pays for a Concierge or Guest Relations executive to be multi-lingual. This holds true for a lot of other team members too. At hotels, not only do we work in a multinational / multicultural environment, our guests too fly in from all corners of the globe. It is a given that speaking in someone's native tongue is an instant connector breaking down most other barriers.
The General Manager has to be a jack of all trades, mastering new facets from all departments so as to be efficient enough to captain his ship.
One of the finest practices an erstwhile boss had adopted was to share a lot of information covering all departments with his team. We were a part of his change agent team working at re-launching a brand and he made sure that each of us kept up our eagerness to learn what was happening around us in the other areas.
I remember being reprimanded by the French boss when I came for the morning meeting through the lobby failing to notice the spectacular flower show-stopper that had been put together by the newly hired Floral Artists. The GM kept up with his incessant reminders for us to branch out and develop a keen interest in all the other functions of the hotel, prohibiting us from becoming the proverbial ostriches.
Today, when I write informative articles about General Hotel Management and find my pieces used as case studies by hotel schools, I have a lot to thank the GM and his ways for.
Do reflect on these tips to bridge the gap between your efforts and expected rewards. And try them out as a professional strategy for not only keeping yourself firmly ensconced in your business chair but to put yourself in the reckoning for greater returns.