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Does the Hospitality Dare to Take the Next Step in 2014?
By Hugo R. Mechelse, MD International Butlers
Friday, 10th January 2014

Looking around and talking to hoteliers tells me that not all hotels dare to take a firm step beyond the hardware, into the area of personalising service.

Technology is still key nowadays, which is a good development. It certainly adds to the experience and comfort of the nowadays guest. The generation Y is entering the market and they have different needs. They grew up with technology and that’s how they communicate. They keep up, and so should you.

But I dare to state that there is more than just technology in 2014. It is a learning curve we are in, but time and again you can see that the hardware is safe ground. It is tangible and you can easily measure the results. Everything in technology is measurable. That is way social media are popular among companies: you know a lot about the users who approach you.

But as everybody focuses on the same technology, what is it that sets you apart? Did you ever consider this?

The Next Step: The Human Touch

In our training and coaching projects we emphasise the importance of soft skills. Naturally because our background is rooted in butler service, but also because we sincerely believe that well selected and trained staff are more valuable than any technology you put into your hotel.

That is the nature of the human touch. We are not robots just as our guests are not (room-)numbers. So why are most hoteliers so hesitant to face this aspects of their business? My  conclusion is that most organisations are too result-focussed. Especially now with the economic outlook not being bight yet, the pressure is high to perform. Revenues are key.

But does this stop you from taking a next step as well? Why can they not go hand-in-hand. To have a modern, luxurious and balances hotel, you need both, as one can not do without the other.

Generation Y might be technology minded they are social as well. They love to communicate. But communication can be both through technology or face-to-face. We, as hoteliers can and should add this last aspect. I would say that with personalising the service at your hotel, your revenues will benefit as well.

Low Investment, High Appreciation

The nice thing about service is that the ultimate investment is much lower, as you invest in people and directly into your organisation. With technology you know that you have to replace it next year to keep up with the new expectations of your new guests.

The pre-condition is that you know what you want. Technology is straightforward as it does what you buy it for. With personalised service it is mainly you who decide what to do and how to do it. You are at the steering wheel of the personal service you know your guests appreciate. You create that match all by yourself.

The very fact that sometimes new hotels hire staff without knowing what kind of services they are going to provide tells me that they hire potentially unsuitable staff. They go for skills, as skills are more tangible than mindset. Now, they very likely either have to adapt their services to the staff they have, which seems not very logic to me, or they have to spend extra time, energy and money in staff to re-train them.

Your Objective For 2014

This is exactly why I would suggest to the hotels to take a next step in 2014. Make it a target to set foot on new ground and dare to put your staff upfront as they are the ones that face your guests on a daily basis. They are your ambassadors. And ambassadors are selected to represent a culture, your culture.

In your hiring process look beyond technical skills. Everybody can learn skills and tricks. Much more difficult is it to 'mould' your staff into the culture and service you want to provide. Happy New Year and good luck!

Hugo R Mechelse is managing director and senior trainer of International Butlers. IB coaches the high-end hospitality in setting service objectives and to balance the performance of the staff and the organisation as a whole with the expectations of the guest, though coaching and training. Training covers personalised service courses for high-end hospitality staff, private households, cruise ships, and private yachts. Consultancy, among others, covers mystery visits and establishing signature Butler Service Departments. His book ‘The Art of Butling’ will be published shortly. You can contact him by e-mail: ,

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