We are playwrights

Most of us enjoy the theater — sitting in the audience, in hushed darkness, waiting for the curtain to go up. As the play unfolds, actors and actresses follow their scripts and deliver remarkable performances. We come away a few hours later, happy or sad — depending upon the script, of course — with fond memories. Several days later we may recall the performance of one or two of the cast members or a particular element of the staging, relishing and reliving such elements with friends.

I was giving this some thought and discovered that the main difference between a theatrical play and a hotel was the location of the audience along with the interaction between the audience and the cast.

Think of your hotel as the theater, your staff as the cast and the guest as the audience. The play opens as the guest checks in. They are quickly led through the first act — the “getting acquainted” part of things — check-in, reception, room presentation and unpacking. The hotel acts as the stage, amenities as the props and your line staff as the actors in this highly interactive play.

Other support staff act as stagehands (housekeepers, maintenance, kitchen staff, gardeners, engineering) and, of course, accountants manage the box office while your public relations and advertising agencies handle the outside buzz to draw in the crowds. As senior managers, your role is to write the play and produce a show of the highest quality your budget will afford.

In doing so, remind your cast that this is not an improv, and there’s an elaborate and time-honored script that must be followed. While a certain amount of improvisation is necessary, your team has to know their lines by heart to start, then make necessary adjustments to reflect individual guest needs only once experience has been properly attained.

A few other parallels are also quite obvious:

  • The show must go on! So even if you have low occupancy or a team member is a no-show, your cast still must deliver a perfect performance.
  • There is no business like show business. Your team has to be enthusiastic performers and love the relationship with the guest. If not, they should not be in the biz!
  • Reviews are important. Mind your TripAdvisor critiques and remember that future attendance is based upon getting great reviews.
  • The audience knows what they are getting. Be it a tragedy or a comedy, we know what a play will bring, and we will be prepared to experience such emotions. Your hotel should be predictable in delivering these broad strokes, and then surprise or delight within the confines of the genre.
  • Great actors take time to develop. You’re not getting older; you’re only getting better. Your staff will benefit from training, and given the right stage and directions, they’ll surely improve with time.

Give this analogy some thought then, as they say in showbiz, go out and break a leg!