In the last article I gave a small synopsis about the hotel turnover in China, Korea, and the USA.
Today I want to just show you a little of my experience dealing with it. I’m still a young manager but I am a unique one with unique solutions; I say that because I did not have a mentor or someone’s example to go after, so I want to share my solutions and hope that it helps others! Let’s start with… China of course!
Within my first three months, we lost four front desk agents and had hired two interns and two new front desk agents. To the other managers, this was clockwork, but it bothered me. I wanted to do something about it. And it was very simple, just as one former employee stated… “I’ll go work an office job, get normal hours, and a higher pay,” I realized that in the staff’s mind, there’s no benefit for working in a hotel.
I decided to talk with all of the agents, to see where they may be unhappy and where the opportunities for growth may lie; surely there’s more than work, go home, and eat food. And then it dawned on me, China has a problem instilling hope on their workers. I mean, why come to work in a hotel? If the answer was just to survive…. wrong answer! What about the true hospitality spirit?
I was re-instilling a sense of belonging, hope, and enjoyment in seeing people happy because of the experiences we created! Whether we saw a family that booked a queen room that we upgraded to a double room with a view, or sent an amenity to a newly wed couple, I showed the enjoyment that can come from that. If you can find that enjoyment, it’s not bad work at all, plus the travel benefits which very few took advantage of, so I started to push them to go. “Visit your families, take a trip, 2-3 days is good, get some fresh air, use your 70% discount etc.” and the turnover for the rest of my tenure was practically non-existent.
When I went to Chengdu it was the same thing; I emphasized instilling hope, a sense of belonging and showing them what true hospitality was like. In fact most employees don’t know why they work in hotels in the first place!
In Korea, I managed an apartment building, not a hotel. They hired me because I could offer hotel level services to guests, which we did. We operated partially with AirBnB (great cash-flow) and short-term apartment rentals.
Whilst having a small staff I did have numerous hotel contacts and it was the same from what I observed and discussed with other managers. The local staff will accept being miserable, but will keep their job because another one is hard to find. But I found encouragement to be the best practice. When the staff is unhappy, they begin to think only of pay, work, and to go home. Encourage them, and they are more engaged, come with a smile, and cooperate more. I challenged my friends to get to know their staff better, challenge them to be unique, talk to them about future prospects, instill some hope!
Good ol’ USA!
Admittedly it’s my first time actually managing in my own country, and to add onto it, my hotel is super unionized. To the point that I actually can’t check in a guest myself, I’ll be taking away work from the front desk agents. If I check in one guest, the most senior agent is getting paid a full days salary. In fact, I’m gonna write an article for you all soon enough about the… UNION!
However the issue isn’t that, one problem is high management turnover. Most of the agents are older, having been working for 5-30 years. And every year there’s a new 20-something year old manager with new ideas and wants to change your work, life, and flow! I saw this instantly, but how I manage is by first realizing that: I’m not going to change anything.
It’s more of assisting with efficiency, solving issues, and improving/assisting with change from corporate. For example, if agents are always clicking and are a bit on the slow side, I show them some hot keys which are easy to memorize that can help them speed up; not forced just suggested, and I do put it in a nice way which they are very welcoming of.
As managers we have to solve very creatively when guests complain and that’s why the managers are younger and younger. We’re creative, unique, and have thick skin. And finally hotel corporations are always trying to improve their product, systems, and process. Most times drastic change is hard for employees, especially when they’ve done the same for 15 years. Our job is to learn it first, simplify it and train it!
Final words? My advice has always been to train and encourage not blame and force. Take care of the staff and they will take care of the guests! I hope my methods will help to inspire even more unique methods that I too am always eager to learn!
Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article!