Thursday , September 20 2018

The effect of workplace culture on guests

Accommodation operators around New Zealand and Australia are a mixed bag of sizes, staffing levels and requirements, clientele and key drivers to their individual success.

AMG33-HR-Chris-Till-2014-3 The effect of workplace culture on guests
Chris Till

It would be safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of accommodation providers would be SMEs who are wanting to keep costs down, market the property to a high standard, deliver a quality product that reflects the marketing efforts accurately, improve the business operations and of course have happy satisfied guests that return frequently and encourage their friends and colleagues to visit as well.

That eagle eye viewpoint I’ve just described is a lot to manage to make sure you can continue to stay afloat but one factor that isn’t ever mentioned until it is too late is the workplace culture. The culture of the workplace is an area which can really impact how your guests perceive your business. For example I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world with my work, but the evidence about a good workplace culture and the effect it has had on me is fascinating.

Polar experiences

There were two hotels that had similar product offerings and yet I found myself with two polar opposite experiences when I came to check out.

Hotel A: Was very well marketed online with the usual good views, good facilities and ticked all the boxes. When I arrived I was greeted with a smile, got good directions of the local area and things I was looking for and even an offer to have the hotel driver take me where I wanted for no cost (it was close enough to walk, so I politely declined).

It was a simple and small gesture, it appears, but thoughtful and a great customer experience. I got talking to the front of house staff when I was checking out the following day and learned that they are in the junior leadership programme and were actively being taught about having a welcoming, thoughtful and positive workplace. Needless to say, I loved it – it’ll be a hotel I will forever return too because of the time and effort and care that was shown with me.

Hotel B: Again, was very easy on the eye and well presented and had everything I needed – when I arrived the front of house, staff welcomed me with a somewhat disgruntled and inconvenienced manner. Not the best first impression so when I was looking for a good meal in the local area I was told “Don’t try anything around here, its all rubbish” and that was it. No further advice as to where to go.

So immediately I discredited this advice and continued around the local village and ended up in a nice English style pub and thoroughly enjoyed it. When I was asked “How was everything?” when I was checking out I was honest and told them I wasn’t too impressed with the welcoming or information I received during my stay I was told: “Well – you should have just eaten here” which to me defied logic and sadly was not a good guest experience.

This example can be replicated in a number of different ways and you may not even be aware of it within your business, whether you are a mum and & operator with two rooms, or a six-star hotel with 400 rooms. Being mindful about what happens in the back-room and how it can/ will reflect at the front of house.

Engaged workforce

My advice would be that good people leadership and culture creates an engaged workforce who will really get involved to improve what the business is all about and what it delivers – and that includes smiling, being genuine and empathetic and providing exceptional customer service that goes the extra mile.

It’s a simple message, but often finding the right leadership models or even information can be difficult – so connecting with people in the industry can definitely help.

About Chris Till

Chris Till
Chris has been the chief executive of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand since February 2014, with previous roles as general manager of the HR and public affairs functions at Christchurch City Council (throughout the earthquake period and beyond), New Zealand Post, DHL, Johnson & Johnson, Lloyds TSB and BAE Systems.

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