We could be (hospitality) heroes, just for one day

On January 10, just like many other lifelong fans around the world, I paid a personal homage to one of my favourite rock heroes of all time, the late great David Bowie, on the first anniversary of his passing, by playing a catalogue of his greatest hits from my own collection during our Happy Hour. The tribute was very much appreciated by many of our regular guests, and our David Bowie fans.

I also plan to play his iconic “Heroes” song during our first Heroes awards ceremony of the year, later this month, when we gather our Hospitality Hero nominees for January.

This is the seventh property where I have introduced this highly successful recognition and motivation (RAM) program, a program that I created initially to boost the morale and spirits of a very demotivated and very distressed team working under extreme pressure in a highly volatile and dangerous local environment.

How the program works is very simple, but the results are always very impressive, so if you would like to try it out with your team of hospitality heroes, here are the step by step procedures.

Every head of department or assistant must nominate at least one hero of the month, not necessarily from their own department, by completing a form that details the nominees’ heroic performance, whether related to sales performance, quality improvement, guest recognition, improved effort, resilience, submitting a great idea, triumphing against all the odds, fostering teamwork or just saving the owner’s dog from drowning in the hotel pool.

The nominees are then invited to the Heroes lunch in our fine dining room, at which time they are warmly welcomed and served by me and my leadership team. 

After the lunch is over, each nominee is called up to the stage by their sponsor, who explains to the audience why he or she feels that the nominee deserves to be Hero of the Month.

I then present the Heroes nomination certificate, a copy of which is later framed for the nominee, with another copy placed in their personal files for future reference, as one single nomination can add substantially to that person’s promotional prospects, and to the size of their salary increment at the end of the year.

We then take a photograph together, which is later framed, along with the certificate, which looks like a posh degree, and given to the nominee for sharing with his family. 

After all nominees have been duly recognised and presented with their certificates, we place their names in a lucky draw box, and invite the newest, youngest, or longest-serving associate to come forward and pick at random the hero of the month, who is then presented with a gift from the hotel, and a crisp US$100 bill from my pocket.

I then make it a point to inform the other nominees that as far as I am concerned, we do not have one winner and nine losers on the stage, instead I let everyone know that what I see in front of me are 10 winners, and that all of them are my heroes, as each and every one of them make three or four hours journeys to and from work every day under the most difficult conditions just to get here on time to serve our guests in one way or another, whether its cleaning the washrooms, frying eggs, serving Champagne, cutting the grass or servicing the generators, they all play their parts heroically.

We close by playing Bowie’s “Heroes,” rather loudly I might add, then we link arms as you do for Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve, and attempt to sing it together while flowing the lyrics which are displayed karaoke style on a large wall screen for all to see. This as you may surmise inevitably results in much laughter, especially when I am asked to sing lead.

Let me just close by saying that the reason I offer 100 dollars from my own pocket each month is not because I want to be seen as some kind of hero, not at all. It is in fact a personal tribute from someone who understands, appreciates and respects the fact that I could not operate my business the way I want it to be operated without letting my hospitality heroes know how much they mean to me personally, and professionally.   


“HEROES” lyrics

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins
Like dolphins can swim

Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
we can beat them, forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes just for one day

I, I will be King
And you, you will be Queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be heroes just for one day
We can be us just for one day

I, I can remember 
(I remember)
Standing by the wall
(By the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads
(Over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
(Nothing could fall)

And the shame, was on the other side
Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes just for one day

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes just for one day
We can be heroes