When we hear something, or someone are we really listening? When at social functions where there are several hundred persons and the noise is quite loud, we are shaking hands and greeting new people, and passing out business cards. How many of the names that you heard could you remember by the end of the event? I say this because I have asked associates after an event such as a convention, or trade show how many people they remember by name. Most will remember 3 or 4 people, the rest of the contacts are business cards with notes on them to help know who they are. It becomes very difficult in a large setting to try and remember who you spoke to. In the hospitality business it become even more important. People like to feel that you remember them when you see them again, and sometimes you will see those a few hours later. It becomes embarrassing to shake hands with a person you met just a few hours ago.
That was a social setting I described, do you listen to your employees the same way? I believe that most of us hear them, but do not really listen to them. Most of the time employees ask questions on the fly that is while you may be walking around the property. You have other things on your mind, yes you will hear them and acknowledge them; however you really did not listen. You may have this experience several times during your walk around the property. Returning to the sanctuary of the office you sit down and see what needs to be done before the end of the day. Did you remember what those employees suggested? Probably not.
The other part to this opening is the fact that we look yet we don’t see. We take a walk around the hotel property and we miss the small things, which by the way the customer does not. A torn corner, a chipped chair, loose plate and such. Now the reason for the article.
I had the occasion to be in Seattle recently doing an assessment on a hotel property. I did not know the owner, I was asked by a former client if I would look at this property and give my assessment of it. The hotel comprised of 179 rooms, a restaurant (seating for 75pp) a lobby social area with a small bar. We met the following morning and discussed what he wanted to do with the property. We talked about the future of this property, and what the potential could be. After looking at reports and financials in the morning I wanted to look at the rooms and over all layout of the property. During our conversation I suggested that the GM should be with us. Well guess what he was also the GM, here was an owner that was also the manager, as we chatted I also found out that he had a very limited knowledge of the hotel business.
I was beginning to regret my decision to help with an assessment of this property. During the inspection tour of the rooms I saw marks, scrapes, and tears in the hallways. Elevators where unkempt and had marks on the doors. Some of the lights in the hallway where out. I made observations of all of the items that were wrong, and could be fixed with minimal effort. The rooms needed to be redone, they were outdated and furnishings were old. The day went on and we looked at the rest of the operational spaces of the hotel. The following day we sat down and had a long discussion on what needed to be done to bring the property up to par, this property actually made a profit, it had the potential of making more if some new capital was invested. I sent out the reports back to the office so as to present a minimal plan to the owner. There were other factors to consider, but he felt that would come later. I will tell you that this owner looked, but did not see, and he heard but did not listen. 4 days later FedEx delivered the assessment package to him. We discussed the steps necessary to implement the suggestions given to him. He advised me that he would think it over. I inquired from my former client as to the outcome. He told me that nothing has been done, and that the property owner thought that it was too much money to invest. I have often wonder why people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on consultants, architects and planners, then decide that it is not worth it. Before I spend that kind of money I have already decided that the investment is worth it. Did he not listen? Did he not see? During my stay there I received valuable information from the hotel employee’s themselves. Housekeeping departments are the jungle drums of the information highway.