Conversation with … my department heads
My department heads recently completed a covert mission. The assignment: sit in the lobby of other luxury hotels in New York City and observe staff, guests and their interaction. They returned with an interesting list of things that they loved and things that jumped out at them as a surprise … and not always in a good way.
Some observations were as expected for properties in the luxury set: lobby d?cor, staff assisting guests, crisp uniforms and professional grooming. As they looked a little more closely, they also noticed some things that made them really sit up and take notice, such as small groups of employees conversing with backs turned to guests, a front desk manager leaning against a column checking a phone for text messages, employees walking around delivery boxes stacked in a corner, among other similar (and surprisingly indifferent) observations.
They then did the same thing in our lobby and observed some engaging smiles, handshakes when greeting a return guest, a concierge multitasking with a huge smile on her face … as well as some similar examples of the more surprising behavior witnessed in the other hotel lobbies.
Talk about an eye-opener. Because of the familiarity with our surroundings, so much can go unnoticed. When the team was presented with this challenge, their eyes were as sharp as can be. And after this exercise, when back on their own turf, they realized how many little things go unnoticed. Our lobby is the first impression that greets many a traveler. My team and I need to consistently challenge ourselves and look at EVERYTHING through a guest’s eye. It is the difference between good and great.