HOTELIERING IS AN EXCITING BUSINESS with never a dull moment on either side of the continuum, running from good to bad. Hotels are, truly, a line of business on steroids. They never sleep, they never take leaves. There are no summer offs or Christmas breaks; in fact some of the traditional festive times when the entire world seems to shut down are the peak season time for hotels. War or peace, bad or robust economy, change in the country’s government, change in the hotel chain’s ownership or management – hotels never seem to close down. Even under bombings or terror strike, hotels manage to spring back into action in no time.
With such frenetic activity at play, driven by people of all creed, caste, colour, culture; hotels become hotbeds of frayed nerves, sharp tempers and low immunity. Flustered people on perpetually sharp deadlines work on short-circuit, pushed maniacally by high expectations and incessantly burning fire in the belly to deliver and over-deliver.
Hence, it is but natural that we as hoteliers are prone to committing some of the Cardinal sins; all in a day’s work.
The following thoughts are meant to guide us back on the track of righteousness and nudge us into fair play. The little reminders (borrowed from the Bible and Dante’s The Divine Comedy) at the end of each sin are intended to serve as an instant deterrent.
Here follow, in alphabetical order, the seven deadly sins that we can consciously or subconsciously commit and stand the risk of being accused of –
Hotels are a kind of show business. More than a lot of other professions, Hotels urge us to look closely at our own Image management. Because we represent brands and deal with a certain profile of guests, it becomes imperative for us to present our best to the world. We must be kitted out in the finest threads, often branded. We cannot afford to have a strand of hair out of place. Those limbs that shake all those hands and do all that walking around must have been neatly attended to. Not just the shoes, even the teeth should be regularly polished. You get the drift, don’t you!
In such an environment, comparisons become easy. So and so is carrying a giant LV Tote, has acquired the latest iPhone, is driving fancy wheels, has been holidaying in the most luxurious places, is sporting a Hermes tie………….our place of work brings in several opportunities for us to turn into varying shades of green.
Besides the outward disposition, the work culture is such that we are given to one-upmanship, tussle for position and prominence and deeply embedded sense of competition – inter-teams, intra-departments, with sister hotels, with other chains. And therein, get the seeds of envy sown in intelligent, hard-working people who, otherwise, have honourable intentions.
A colleague gets sent for the WTM in London or ILTM in Cannes, yes Cannes – every time. A certain Guest Relations Manager is allowed to sign off at the unbelievable hour of 5 PM every day, only because she is proximal to the head honcho. The peer’s appraisal is shades better than ours; which means that he or she is up for a higher raise and a fatter pay packet. The PR Director is the apple of the GM’s eyes and seems to have it somewhat easy. The expatriate colleague, fresh off the boat, received a warmer orientation and welcoming than you did and his list of perks have stuff that you cannot even ask the Management for. There are a million occasions in hotels that can turn you into a green-eyed monster; should you not be watching that mind of yours and not letting your conscience and good sense to rule over unwanted thoughts and emotions that steal a passage into the deeper recesses of your head.
The scriptures define ‘envy’ as wanting to have what someone has, a desire for others’ traits, status, abilities or situation; and liken it to jealousy.
Wouldn’t it be better if we focused on bettering our own selves by admiring the good in others, by getting inspired rather than vehemently grudging others’ of whatever we are after!
I have seen some hotelier friends go berserk at events – internal or external. They will reach out for the finest single malt, the most expensive cigars; top their plates with caviar or oysters or whatever else has fancied them as if the world was going to end tomorrow. I have seen hotel colleagues run massive entertainment bills because it was all going to be paid for by their official expense accounts. I have seen these very same people be mindful of their personal finances and how they spend their hard earned money.
There was this PR predecessor at a certain hotel I worked for, who was known to invite her husband to almost all her official dinners. This way, not only did her husband get to network with a great set of contacts; there was also no need for anybody to prepare dinner at home. How did I find out? Her overdone malpractice became a joke with the journalist friends, some of whom recounted the story to others and it got onto the spin of whispers on the informal circuit.
Not just hoteliers, the larger world too, seems to want more of everything – more money, more promotions, more rewards, more fun, more attention, more fame, more glory, more happiness, more free time, more trips……the list of wants is endless.
And then, there are the typical three villains we have studied about in our Psychology classes. We all, from the time we are toddlers, seem to pine for more power, leadership and control – seat of most of the trouble in the history of mankind. So, we come to work in the haloed precincts of our marble and metal edifices and splatter around our gluttonous need to gain more power, be a lot more in control of things than we are hired for and send out bad energy that spins balls into an overly negative atmosphere at work. This sense of acute selfishness cuts us off from others and makes others skeptical of us, creating a feeling of distrust, disharmony and disengagement.
Gluttony stems from complete lack of self-control and can have serious ramifications when one just must address this self-indulgent state of hunger any which way he can. The more serious outcomes can be embezzlement, cheating, misappropriating funds and putting business to sizeable risk.
If we didn’t have this innate desire to consume more than what we actually require, not just life in hotels but life in general and the world at large would be a much better place and we would not be heading slowly but surely towards our own extinction.
Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell – You’ll be force-fed rats, toads and snakes. Dante’s Diktat – Gluttons are “forced to lie in a vile slush produced by ceaseless foul, icy rain.”
Mentored by envy and fuelled by gluttony, Greed, indeed is, the wounded heel of Achilles in all of us. We just seem so unsatiated, regardless of what we achieve and all that we earn – be it praise or profit, rest or riches, material gains or momentary pleasures.
While a lot of us get slayed by this dragon of greed that raises its ugly head within us, in some degree or other, I have had one outstanding example in my recent professional past. The Colleague seemed to have this endless pit of greed which he was enslaved to and had to fill it by hook or by crook. It was sad to see him want more and more of everything. He wanted to be the highest earning, even among peers. He would unabashedly put others in bad light or steal credit so as to let the strobes shine on him. When we all were given Company cars, he wanted his to be in a different shade and with a sunroof. From thinnest laptops, latest gizmos to clocking maximum frequent flier miles, the man was ravenous about everything.
But almost all of us fall prey to this, at some point or another. It could be our greed for praise and recognition. We may covet that position, regardless of the value we are capable of bringing to it. We could be avaricious about the troika of pay, promotion, perquisites. In fact, Company benefits have become a dirty word, just because our sense of greed overpowers the humaneness and professionalism in us that should, instead, guide most of our actions.
Our inclination to feed the excessiveness fuelled by our selfish greed forces us to disregard our personal and Company values.
The good thing, whether we like it or not, and whether we wish it or not, is that life and work both teach us that contentment is a far better thing to abide by. Now, it is up to us whether we want that lesson to be pleasant or harsh.
We will look at the remaining FOUR sins in Part 2 of this article.