Summer breaks are coming. It’s very easy in the school holidays and the weeks surrounding them to do a roaring trade, and I’m sure some of you are recovering from the bank holiday breaks you’ve been providing in excess for the past couple of weeks – there was some wedding or something on I heard.
But summer breaks are on their way, and you need to be ready for them. Here’s a short checklist of things you ought to have ready in time, before the customers start rolling up the driveway.
> Beds! Do you have broken bases, sagging mattresses, worn sheets, lumpy duvets, etc? There won’t be any time to replace things like these whilst you’re fully booked, so get it done now.
> Temps! If you’ve got offers on certain rooms, lots of functions booked or dinner events planned, it might be wise just to review your staff levels. Pop into the HR Office and run it past somebody there to see if taking on temps is possible and/or wise.
> Stock Levels! Make sure that you’ve got enough food, booze and other important items scheduled to be coming in, and it probably won’t hurt to stock a little extra now if you’ve got the room, just in case there’s a rush on.
Those three things are pretty key to the customer side, but don’t forget the more esoteric aspects – is there some money put aside for emergency breakages or replacements? Are rotas organized? Staff disputes at an all time low? These things can be equally as important as the more practical arrangements.
Have a good summer.
Getting enquiries on the phone is a normal, day to day part of the hospitality industry. What we sometimes don’t realise however, is that the way your business is represented on the phone can sometimes make all the difference – it can be the tilt over the edge into a booking, or a very good reason for the customers to look elsewhere.
So, here are the Hospitality Hotspot’s Top 5 Tips for Telephone Manner
1. Be a Good Human
It’s really easy, when you’re answering the phone for the fourtieth time that day, or straight after a customer complaint, to let your stress/tiredness weaken the politeness of your tone and how approachable you sense. As best you can, be a good human and let your customer realize you’re a nice person, with a job to do and that you’re there to help. Sound professional, but not rigid, confident, but not scripted. Just help them out as best you can – care about them and be kind.
2. Be a Good Listener
If your customer has some specifics, be a good listener. Let them tell you why they’re coming to stay (Business? RnR? Honeymoon?) and be interested, especially if their stay is out of the ordinary. Don’t butt in on what they’re saying with an offer on a discount room you’re trying to fill – time it right so that it sounds like you’re just trying to help them out – which, I’m sure, you are! If they talk, let them talk.
3. Be a Good Speaker
But the time comes when it’s your turn to speak. This is it – this is the real make or break. Be a Good Speaker, and focus on being clear and understandable. Avoid jargon terms, don’t make your sentences too long, and crack a joke. Sounding like you’re easy to get on with really puts the boot on your foot – they might even feel like it would be unkind to not book with you if you’re likable enough.
4. Be a Good Friend
Don’t multitask! Give the person on the other end of the phone the attention and respect you would give your closest friend, were they on the phone to you. Don’t clean your desk, don’t write an email to someone else, don’t read anything, just concentrate on the person you’re dealing with. Believe me – customers really can tell when you’re distracted and busy with something other than them, and it’s a real turn off.
5. Be a Good Salesperson
You still have an employer. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your purpose, when dealing with this enquiry, is to convert it into a booking. Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. Care for them and believe you can help them – but help them to see that they should book with you right now. Do all you can, within reason, to get their details down, and don’t be afraid to call them back at a later date and ask how their search for a place to stay is going.
The Guardian review sections are sometimes a good place to pick up industry tips – and this article had a little gem at the end that you ought to notice. Zip and Link beds are a great way to cut down on unnecessary expense – you don’t have to go and buy a double and two singles that would requires endless hauling of divan bases everywhere every time you have a family come to stay – it means your room can be marketed as a king size double, or twin single, at just the pull of a zip and click of a link.
The fact of the matter is, that kind of versatility saves you time, effort and money. Why buy three beds what you can buy one that does the job for the lot? And if you know where to go, the prices aren’t so bad either. Try and avoid the larger chains – you can’t do deals with them. Call up a middle-market company like Beds 2U (which you can find in our side bar – or by clicking here) or someone else of that variety.
The fact of the matter is, you won’t be the GM forever. Face it – you’re getting older, and if you’re carrying too much of the day to day running of things on your shoulders, it will be bad for the company when you go to Meet your Maker. You need to train up, and delegate. Delegation is the key to Hospitality success – from the office, to the restaurant, to the housekeeping, to the book work, you need to always be looking for effective people to delegate to.
But, these people need training, and they usually have to start at the bottom. The best GM’s were once waiters, waitresses, chef’s assistants or even cleaners! They need to the workings of the machine inside out. And http://www.hittraining.co.uk/ might be the place to start. Head on over there now and check it out.
The time comes in the life of most hospitality businesses when change is needed. Perhaps it will be as simple a redecorate that you can manage yourself – particularly if you’re a smaller business. But for larger hotel complexes or chains, getting a professional in to help you create the look and feel you’re going for might be just the boost you need to relauch a tired old establishment.
The British Institute of Interior Designers is a good place to start if you’re looking for that sort of help. They can link you up with the right person for you, and who knows what you could create together?
Head over there now if you’ve got a project of this sort on the horizon. http://www.biid.org.uk/
In the Hospitality Industry, you need to know what’s going on with the industry as a whole. Innovations are always being made, and changes in the law are always affecting the way we do business – so you have to keep up, or you’ll simply die. Or worse, become illegal!
The British Hospitality Association is useful for keeping up. They’re not as practical as the Institute of Hospitality – but they keep you involved and informed on the modern direction and shape of the industry, especially from a political and legal point of view.
These days there is a growing group of customers, web-savvy and wise, who will check out reviews of your establishment online before they come close to booking with you. What that means for you, is that being well-spoken of on review websites is of pretty crucial importance to your image as an entity.
TripAdvisor is probably the most commonly used review site of this nature for UK Hotels, BnB’s and Guesthouses. If there isn’t a review of your Guesthouse on there, you either aren’t well publicized or aren’t good (or bad) enough to write home about.
Head on over to http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ and see if you can find yourself.
The Hospitality Institute is, it’s far to say, the professional body for managers and aspiring managers in the hospitality industry. If you find yourself needing to get a bit of paper that says you can do the job, these boys are the “Go To” for such things. Not only that, but they provide plenty of resources for career development and managerial strategy for those in the industry. It’s definitely worth checking out. To GM’s especially, it’s a good idea to get your head round this stuff so as to help you with selecting the right staff to move into managerial positions, as well as giving you a place to direct them if you’re looking to expose them to further training and more experience.
Worth a look. Click Here
So this past week has seen the annual event “The Hospitality Show”, where culinary kings of all shapes and sizes gather to both share tips and tricks in a business focussed environment, as well as browse the massive equipment exhibition and have a laugh together. The results are in for this year’s show, and can be read here.
If you’re trying to get a leg up in the culinary area of the hospitality industry, it might be time well spent to check this event out next year. It seems to me that, even if you buy nothing, you can make contacts and learn for the best – they even have a business mentor scheme!
Events like these are plenty useful for getting the know-how you need to succeed.
Well, the truth is that sometimes the facts are boring. But they also kinda matter. The National Bed Federation is a good website for helping you get to grips with the techincal side of the bed industry, and they are (I think) that most nationally recognised, even attempting to get bed-industry voices heard in Parliament.
Head on over for all sorts of helpful little articles that will probably help you avoid getting swindled by swanky salesperson – if you know your stuff, the boot is on your foot, rather than theirs!