Excell managers and the art of delighting guests

Legendary and distinctive, but above all in World War II in Europe, the successful American General George S. Patton used to say: “There are only two types of generals: Those who are ...

Legendary and distinctive, but above all in World War II in Europe, the successful American General George S. Patton used to say: "There are only two types of generals: those who are in battle and those who are at the desk. " And more: “Do the same to yourself what you order others. "

I would apply this classification or categorization or "to put it mildly" recommendation for our tourism leaders - at the head of hotels, hotel resorts, marinas, but also the offices of tourist boards at all levels, especially higher ones.

With the indication that this is recommended for hotel directors, ie for all managers of receptive tourist facilities, it seems that most of them are at the desk.

Holding an extremely well-attended workshop in Dubrovnik, to my great surprise when asked if and how much they know their guests, I got the answer: '‘We sit behind your laptop all day and fill out excell tables". 

These were top operational managers in this case. It remained well etched in my memory and I have since started using the term for managers of this type "excell managers", which I have used a couple of times in the articles on this portal. Once upon a time in the golden age of our tourism, when we used more heart in tourism and less fashionable business terms, hotels on the Adriatic were largely "branded" by personality (in modern terms: personality-ima) directors who led them. They used to go down to the halls, greet and talk to guests at the reception or in the lobby. 

In short, they created a certain atmosphere of hospitality. In marketing terms, they felt and reacted to the pulse of the market.

The well-known Dubrovnik hotelier Rafo Rodin was in the lead, whose attention was often reported by the local media at the time, both towards the world stars of the time and other guests.

Elimination of bureaucracy and internal company informality

Prize question: as much as today's hotel managerial the elite knows what kind of guests are really coming to them and why, whether their content and teams meet expectations, and more importantly - whether they will return next year?!

I doubt.

We would rather order a survey, as our people would say, of the views of service users than directly ask guests and get information in a real place in real time or real time, more modern.

Well then how do we find out about the impressions. You know the pivotal one: the higher level asks the lower management level and when it gets to the lowest - then it comes to the last one, which can no longer delegate to anyone else (as my friend Tom would say sarcastically - usually Porter Stefek) and then the lowest level writes a report, which goes through all the levels back the same way it came. Resolved, they would say in the old days.

That is far from the solution.

The leader must know how to go down to the market "battlefield" in the gym, restaurant, terrace or reception, sit and talk to guests, intervene, later analyze, conclude, change the approach on the go like a sports coach, who, regardless of the first concept games, see that the new changes will achieve the desired result. 

Philip Kotler, the legendary father of modern marketing, used to point out that the great Jack Welch, the famous president and CEO of the American mega company General Electric, dedicated 50% of his time to company clients. Under his leadership, General Electric increased its market value from $ 12 billion to $ 410 billion, Welch was named “Manager of the Century” in 1999, and when he finished running GE in 2001, he was awarded a severance pay of a staggering $ 417 million. Despite being at the helm of a giant of unimaginable proportions, Welch, an otherwise not at all light-hearted Irish character, insisted, while respecting the fulfillment of planned goals, on informality within the group and the elimination of bureaucracy at all levels whenever the opportunity arose.

Secret comer

But let’s get back to our domestic tourism opportunities and leaders.

The line about Welch was just a roadmap for a story about the need to eliminate bureaucracy wherever possible and focus on the right things.

Klaus Kobjoll, one of the most awarded and most famous European hoteliers, can teach us about this. Klaus, kind of the progenitor of the art of delighting guests, presents in this book a series of seemingly small, and in fact big tricks based on daily observations of the needs of guests. 

Talking about emotional experience indicates that it most often arises from two sources: strong stimuli from outside and "secret touch". The same one that Rafo Rodin raised.

Here is an unforgettable example. Many years after we did not see each other, I arrived in Dubrovnik for practically half a day for another creative workshop, which was announced with lecturers in the Dubrovnik media. And as I was getting ready to start, sipping coffee at the front desk, the receptionist brought me a message on paper: “Have a successful day! Greetings, Rafo ”. Although not in very good health in his later years and in a not so easy life situation, the old master of empathy could not stand it without sending me a sign of his attention.

Rain strategy

Therefore let's break the "silo" mentality in which we have established ourselves and express the empathy expected of the host. Especially now in these post-Covid 19 times.

Here are a few simple initial control test questions, which can be further developed:

  1. What do they want in general and what preferences do our guests have today, especially those who come from outside of group arrangements?
  2. What specific original and impressive experiences, organized by the destination itself, will my team and I offer to the guest in certain specific periods, regardless of the applications or announcements on the posters? Do we even know what’s going on by the day? Do we think about it at our weekly and daily briefings?
  3. Tomorrow is bad weather. Is there anything I can prepare and make the day easier for the guests? (Let's call it - rain strategy). To avoid confusion - this may include cooking classes, walks through the destination with a witty guide and discovering places that the guest will almost never discover without our help.
  4. Have I developed a network of local partners in preparation for the tourist year, who will deliver to my guests the desired level of additional experience beyond my content at reasonable prices on every occasion, especially when the weather conditions are not in our favor? What are the expectations of my local partners, and what content do I run?
  5. Are you finally ready to simply listen to the guests as a leader? Along the way, have you taught your front desk team not to talk to company administration or personal matters on their cell phones while guests wait at the counter?

Of course, for a relevant answer to these and other questions and optimal delivery of the desired quality, it is necessary, as Kobjoll says, permanent energy maintenance. The energies of cordiality.

This is achieved by construction self-revitalizing management systems (purposeful and timely reminder of the vision, strategy and business plan) i by maintaining and developing a culture of company relations that is, a particular business system no matter how small or large it was. And yes, there are plenty of other details.

But we have to start from something, and when we have already started then and finish with Patton's saying: 

"A good plan done today is better than a perfect plan, which will be realized next week."

Author: Edvin Jurin. Read the author's columns and loud reflections so far HERE

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.com / Illustration: HrTurizam, hr

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