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The Service Was Underwhelming And I Think I Know Why.
By Tom Costello
Sunday, 23rd June 2013
 
I recently took a trip to New Orleans to celebrate my son's 24th birthday, I attended college in New Orleans and have placed several meetings and events in the city over the past couple of decades so I have a pretty good understanding of the lay of the land.

I hung my hat at one hotel during my three-day trip, had breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and stopped by a couple of recommended watering holes to enjoy their signature cocktails, in moderation of course.

New Orleans is a great place to visit but on this trip, there was something that I felt was missing.  Service.

Poor service is a problem that plagues the hospitality industry and good service, no exemplary service, must be a priority for any business owner, manager and his staff.

I believe that there are three underlying factors why the service was so underwhelming in the majority of the establishments that I visited in New Orleans.

A lack of direction from ownership or management

In a post on the Harvard Business Review blog, "Are You Sure You're Not A Bad Boss?", coming in at number three on the list of the 10 flaws that contribute to a leader's failure was:

"A lack of clear vision and direction. Poor leaders have a murky view of the future, don't know precisely what direction to take, and are (not surprisingly) unwilling to communicate about the future, leaving their subordinates with no clear path forward."

Ownership or management is out of touch with their employees

From the "Top 10 Mistakes Managers Make Managing People", managers should exhibit these characteristics.
  • Value people
  • Believe in two-way, frequent effective communication and listening
  • Want to create an environment in which employees are empowered to take charge of their jobs
  • Able to hold people accountable and responsible without punitive measures
  • Demonstrate leadership and clear direction
  • Believe in teamwork
  • Place the customer at the center of their reason for existence and regard reporting staff as customers
Employee work ethic suffers when their ownership or management doesn't care about them

"Staff members may say they feel a lack of connection between the rest of the staff and the management team. As a manager, be sure to promote healthy communication whenever possible. If you give direction, be sure to follow up afterward. Hold staff meetings frequently. Greet and talk with each employee daily, or as often as possible. Let staff members know what is happening in the business and make them feel that they are a part of its successes."  Foodservice Warehouse.

So what are some of the service challenges that are facing the hospitality industry that you'd like to add?

Tom Costello is a business owner, consultant, and author whose career encompasses more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industries that includes startups, strategic business planning, P&L management, branding, sales, marketing, social media, e-reputation management, technology development, channel distribution, vendor and third-party relations. As the Principal of Groups International, a meetings and events management company, Tom drives the strategic growth of the company in the areas of sales, marketing, brand image, social media, and vendor relations.

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