Welcome to the Pertlink BLOG. Here I will
share my views and ideas not only on the Hospitality industry, but the
world in general. I hope you enjoy the commentary, and that you feel
free to comment.
- Terence Ronson Hong Kong
17 February 2011
Your Hotel may be old, but the way you deliver service should not be... Just ask Mickey Mouse
a lot of people, I enjoy staying in new hotels, mostly because I get a
kick out of sampling all those new gizmos, rather than looking for
higher service standards. But often is the case when you compare new
Hotels to old ones, there is a noticeable difference in service levels.
it because the software [the staff] has a better interface to the
hardware [the Hotel], or because they are younger, or maybe because the
Management is more jazzed up by all their new surroundings?
Whatever it is, it's wrong!
fact, I have no problem staying in older Hotels where the hardware may
be a little tired, providing the service levels are up to scratch or
even above par so as to make up for the physical deficiencies and
tiredness of the building. Is this how you feel also?
the last couple of months, my wife and I have stayed in two different
5-star Hotels in Manila, where much of the hardware is dated, and quite
frankly in need of a good facelift. And as I look around, I truly
believe some minor, and relatively inexpensive updates can be made to
these properties...and they should not break the bank. So I ask myself,
why are they not being done?
thinking is that if your hands are tied by not being able to do any
major Capex related works or even remedial stuff - then the investment
of time rather than money, should be made into your software - the
people who actually run the business and constantly interface with the
For example, I don't see any excuse for the person who checks me in to ask "Is this my first time to stay at the hotel"
if that info is in the PMS right in front of them, and supposedly
should appear somewhere in my file that indeed I have done so.
also see no excuse for the weighing scale in the bathroom to be off
balance by 4Kg - and not set at zero. I also find it hard to comprehend
that the packaging of the guest amenities should look as old as the
furniture [unless it's an aesthetic thing] and to one time address me by
my name, and then just moments later refer to me as "sir". Having said
all that, the fresh carrot juice on the Buffet, was almost translucent
in taste, but to their credit - they did have great Smoked Salmon on the
Breakfast Buffet - so all is not that bad...
our luggage arrive almost 30 minutes after Check-in [and after making
two follow up calls - one of which saw us volunteering to collect
ourselves], no turndown service on a couple of the four nights we stayed
is definitely not a problem related to the age of the building or a hold being placed on the Capex budget of the Hotel - is it?
- they did have three small bottles of complimentary water chilling in
the mini bar, a Banana in the Welcome Fruit plate along with a green
Apple, a red Apple and a Mango - but the Mango never got replaced -
while other fruits did. I did not care for the three truffle looking
chocolates on the saran wrapped plate. And when you describe Eggs
Benedict on the Executive Lounge menu as poached eggs with Hollandaise
sauce on a toasted muffin - don't deliver it on a bed of ham when the
person eating it does not consume meat - and specifically chose it for
that very reason - the absence of.
And to top it all, one of the properties had the chutzpah to charge PHP1,500 (USD33) per day for a 1.5Mbps Internet connection.
been in the Hospitality industry a long time - believing I know
something about Service Delivery - but not so arrogant as to believe I
can't learn a new thing or two - as I did when I recently attended a
two-day course at Hong Kong Disneyland - "The Disney Approach to
Quality Service". This first time collaboration between the Disney
Institute and Hong Kong PolyU made me, and 58 of my fellow participants
wake up to the reality that there is an alternative way to delivering
service - The Disney way.
all honesty, I felt I was impulsive in signing up for the course, and
after doing so, had second thoughts if this was a wise way to spend my
time, and whether Mickey Mouse could teach me anything, especially about
Service - how delightfully wrong I was!
the moment we kicked off at the Disney Convention Center, until the
Graduation ceremony [where we all dressed up in Mickey ears complete
with tassel] - this was a real eye opener for me. Course delivery was
well executed by the two Instructors - Rob and Tom, who were gifted in
their presentation skills and extremely passionate about what they do
and the brand they represent.
35 years of experience in delivering the highest quality Theme parks
and a sustaining a global brand, which is synonymous with so many
quality aspects, one could not help but come away with a totally
different view to Service Delivery. Sure there was some goofing around,
but it was well structured - and encouraged participants to interact
with each other in ways I've not previously experienced in locally held
definitely I can say that I got value for my money with great course
content, excellent F&B [I loved the Soba Noodles and Raisin Scones]
and two opportunities to walk round the park - first time along with an
Instructor who pointed out many of their secrets and attention to
detail, and the second under an observation assignment as we paired up
with other Team Members.
how they look at the Big Picture, but actually focus on the minutiae,
like what happens at the end of the day when you are tired and forget
where you parked your car in a car park that may hold thousands of cars,
of if your kid accidentally drops the ice cream from his [defective]
cone and starts to wail - they have a service recovery procedure for
that! For the most part - Disney deals with positive emotions, but when
it comes to the negative ones, no matter how much goodwill you have
stored up - they can kill you - and so you need to be prepared for the
times when they may happen, and to deal with them effectively and
efficiently. For those of you who regularly read my BLOG will see real
life examples of how some Hotels handle this...
[Disney] have come to realize the reality of ‘cause and effect' -
meaning if something causes a problem which may not necessarily be part
of their business - such as the train to Disneyland is delayed, then the
resulting effect will be some very disgruntled passengers who's time
has been eaten into - and so they will instigate a process to help speed
people through the gates into the park and onto the waiting rides.
differences are strictly observed and it's not all about forcing the
American Way onto the public - but more of transplanting The Disney Way,
which transcends all cultures.
VIP = Very Individual Person
teach their Team known as Cast Members [not staff or Associates as many
companies refer to their employee] to point using two fingers or the
palm of the hand, and to always go that extra mile/exceed expectations
when delivering service. Imagine if each person gives 1-2% more across
an organization that's HUGE and sustainable! To Disney, just a pretty
smile is not enough - especially when you may interact with 60 Cast
Members during a single visit to the park.
example being that as a family you may want to go to Space Mountain -
and before you queue up and find Junior does not meet the minimum height
restrictions, they have a tool at the beginning of the queue to help
with that. The remedy being that they will issue Junior with a special
pass for his/hers next visit, which speeds them to the front of the
queue and quickly onto the ride. Imagine the first feeling of
disappointment the kid has in knowing they can't get onto the ride, but
the good feeling in knowing that when they hit the right height they
will jump to the head of the queue. If that were I - I'd put a mark on
the wall and check my height daily until I reach the goal - and of
course annoyingly remind the people who were taking me that the day was
rapidly getting approaching...
Disney - it's about creating a series of little WOWs that you
constantly experience when you are in their properties that culminate in
a big WOW. Actually, to them a WOW is normal - because that is how they
set their objectives. Their practice of "Guestology" is that they
expect you to feel special, be treated as an individual, they respect
children and most importantly, have knowledgeable Cast members.
Continuous re-examination of a process and the questioning of why it's
in place as well as continually reinventing an experience or someone
will eclipse you.
Member Get Member
organizations especially those which sell products and services
encourage [and sometimes financially incentivize] customers to recruit
others. Disney has a similar ethos by encouraging their Cast Members to
recommend others for job openings. By creating a very special working
environment along with perks and benefits culminating in high levels of
job satisfaction, the Cast Member is proud to evangelize and at the same
time be selective as to whom they recruit to join this special club
like environment. This process effectively means that they perform the
first level of interviewing saving the company money and time - with the
actual interview process almost being a formality than a necessity.
Safety trumps all
Disney set quality standards, Safety is the #1 concern and you can see
that translated across the brand - no matter how you interact with it.
For example, as parents, you will have no issue in taking your kids to
watch a Disney movie. You know that every aspect of it will be safe, and
your kid will have a great time. You know that it will be safe to take
them to a Theme Park because it's a safe place to let them run around
and interact with the Cast, rides and parade. You know it's almost
obsessively clean [they have trash/recycling cans every 27 paces] and
that they have a large and ever present custodial workforce dressed up
in crispy white uniforms who are more than happy to point out the
location of a ride or other necessary item. Disney Team Leaders are
apparently mandated to spend 70% of their time on-the-ground amongst the
could go on and on how impressed I was about the way Disney has thought
through every process and experience - some call this attention to
detail - looking at it from both negative and positive sides - clearly
understanding Guest behavior [psychographics] and setting measurable
guidelines to ensure a constant flow of WOWs. And most especially,
examining aspects of your business where you may have to say NO to a
customer request. This brings a whole new meaning to QOS - Quality Of
Service, and does not apply just to the Hospitality industry, but to all
industries where service is delivered.
- they get it wrong - they are human after all and not too arrogant to
admit it, [even though they dress up in fantastic lifelike costumes] -
but when they do, they take note, and correct it - ensuring it's a
one-off thing - to preserve the "magical" guest experience.
you say your Hotel is like the Magic Kingdom and all your Cast Members
have squeaky-clean personalities like Snow White and Mickey Mouse
(a.k.a. The Boss)?
I'd like to praise the leaders (a.k.a. Cast Members) of Hong Kong PolyU
(Tony and Flora) for putting on this course, and even more
significantly, to applaud the companies especially the Hotel ICON who
sent their Cast Members to attend. They had the foresight to know that
even if they are old dogs - they too can learn some new tricks!
© Terence Ronson ISHC