Grand Hyatt Shanghai: First challenge, old staff new tricks!

Welcome Hoteliers.
You know how they say you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
Do they have a saying for old staff? Certainly you can teach them new tricks right? I’d soon find out.

New managers like myself are all very gung-ho. We’re gonna change everything, we got all these new ideas and we’re gonna MHGA. (make hotel great again, see what I did there? 😉 )

I thank my parents for many things. A good many things indeed, one thing my parents taught me, always pay attention to everything, your surroundings, people etc.
What I got from them is, pay attention to what you say, do, and what’s around you. So when I was spewing all these ideas of great changes to come, the staff looked at me with this look. It was a look that had a little “you crazy as hell,” a little “this guy…” and a little “bye Felicia” all mixed in it.
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I quickly noticed and changed my tune.

The staff definitely saw I took a hint, and as embarrassing as it is to admit. I got a little respect from it, they see I valued their opinion; well at least we all laughed about it several months down the line.
Most of the staff were in their late 20s early 30s and had worked at Grand Hyatt for a few years. The 2nd person closet to my age at my position was 32, married with a kid. So me being 22, definitely raised some eyebrows. I had to prove myself before I could change a pen on the desk since I was definitely being watched; they wanted to see how I performed.

The GM wanted change. So I knew whatever I want to change or enhance, I had to build it and do it myself until they get curious enough to join me; it really is that simple. Not all staff, but a small amount are interested in improving themselves, which I prefer anyway. A small team of elites!

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I created 2 simple VIP programs. The VIP courtesy call log, and re-introduced a program they had a longtime ago such as birthday cakes with handwritten notes. The latter was simple, it’s a guest birthday; send a cake. This is certainly a western tradition but in the east, it was not as widely celebrated, however it was becoming more popular. And it’s a nice gesture, with a hand-written card = good online review.

The former being a courtesy call log. It’s also simple, I broke it into 4 sections. VIPs, Hyatt Gold Passport (now World of Hyatt) members, short stays of 5-9 nights, and long stay of 10+ nights.
Most guests, even if you ask, don’t want to tell you their bad experiences, especially VIPs. Not to categorize guests, because all guests are important. But a normal guest paying $150 on booking.com who leaves a bad review, we can do damage control, give a little compensation and all is well in heaven and earth. A VIP, can result in loss of a contract which can effect 50 rooms nights or more, sometimes it’s the boss of the company itself who can simply move their account to a competitor. So these calls can catch a situation before it festers and becomes deal-breaking; we call that, service recovery
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I would call the guest room an hour to two hours after check-in to ask about the room condition, are the facilities to their liking, do they need anything, and establish a point of contact. If they are short stay guests for 5-9 nights or long staying guests 10+ nights, we call them every 3 days to see if they need a refresh etc.

I also used my report to build preferences such as housekeeping servicing times, so the guests did not get a sudden wake up from the housekeepers, I mean how awkward is it for a housekeeper to poke their head in when you’re snoozing and get woken up. I confirm checkout time which makes it easier to flip the house (more hotel jargon, basically knowing how many departures you have, at what time, how many rooms you can get cleaned at what times, and how many rooms you can get back to plan for your arrivals and pre-assign early departure rooms to early arrival guests or VIPs etc etc etc~).
So, my report was a big deal!
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After a few days of committing to my reports, some staff & interns wanted to get on board.

I suspect for language practice, many international guests from corporate accounts such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte, Credit Suisse had contracted nights, so they were common guests; the staff wanted to practice with them. I also suspect they wanted to sit down in the back office and call guests as such allowed them a small break from the desk and who could blame them for that. 😉

My advice is if you are starting at a new job and want to implement changes, implement them yourself and show its success to the team before you want others to join you on it thus proving your ability and not wasting anyone’s time!

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article.
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Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper

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