A wakeup call on technology from a former hotel GM

Plus: Will the travel recovery become a travel revolution?

Hospitality Daily is a non-boring summary of stories for busy people who want to get better each day at providing hospitality.

Today, you’ll learn:

  • The next chapter in the story of how the Nantucket Hotel & Resort became the #1-rated hotel on TripAdvisor (hint: it’s about building the team)

  • Will the travel recovery become a travel revolution?

  • A wakeup call on technology from a former hotel GM

  • Changing roles in our industry - and the need for flexibility

  • What a DJ who used to tour with Kanye West says about the role of sound design in hospitality

Reaching #1: Creating a culture of winning

Yesterday, we started the story with Adele Gutman of how the Nantucket Hotel & Resort became the #1-rated hotel on TripAdvisor and remains among the very top of the list today. Today, we’re picking up the story on how general manager Jamie Holmes builds his team.

Creating a culture of winning

Holmes asks new hires if they’ve ever been on a winning team. “If they say yes, then they know how exciting it is. If they say no, then we say they’re going to be on one and going to find out how exciting it is to be on a winning team. It makes a difference when you go to work every day knowing you’re on a winning team.”

When someone feels they’re doing something important, putting some good in the world, and have purpose in everything they do – they are far less likely to switch to another job. It’s crucial for both attracting and retaining the right team.

Life is about a lot more than the paycheck. Job satisfaction comes from feeling appreciated and respected, creatively expressed, and challenged to reach their full potential.

“Our team has fun doing what they do. Drivers don’t just drive guests. They drive them to talk with them.”

External and internal guests

Each person on the team is responsible for supporting the overall success of the hotel. In the words of Holmes, “We say we not only have external guests – our customers and club members and wedding planners – but also internal guests. Each department is here to serve each department and help each other.” This mentality was critical last year when the hotel quickly went from being really slow to really busy.

It’s also an operating model that is important for developing your team. People feel even more capable as they support various roles because it shows them how the whole operation works, giving them an advantage if they want to progress in their career.

All hands on deck

The hotel’s owner, Gwenn Snider, visits the property weekly and talks with the staff to reinforce their mission. Holmes does that daily. But they’re careful to not let this get in the way of serving guests.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time to talk to your staff,” Holmes said. “My staff are so busy they don’t have time for me to stand around and talk to them all day. They want to know what’s going on. They want to know what they’re doing right. They want to know how they can do it better. They want to know that if they need something, I’m going to get it for them. And if they need help, I’m going to help them. And then they want me to get out of the way so they can go ply their trade. They know what to do. My chefs know how to cook, my waiters know how to wait. My bartenders will create a cocktail with your name on it. They don’t need me to manage them to do that.”

When Holmes talks with his team, the focus is on continual improvement. “Because we’re a small, independent hotel, we don’t have all the rules on a book on the shelf. We’re creating them as we go. We’re evolving and developing with our people.”

Tomorrow, we’re going to look at how they collect feedback to constantly improve. Stay tuned….

Will the travel recovery become a travel revolution?

AirBnB is banking on it. In a recent press release they shared:

We have noticed a systemic change in travel….for those who are able to work remotely, the longer the pandemic has lasted, the more working and living have blurred together, and the more permanent this way of working and living has become.

Propelled by the flexibility created by remote work, travel is undergoing a fundamental change. Zoom and similar services haven’t just enabled us to travel faster, farther or more affordably—they have given us the ability to choose not to travel at all, such as for business, or to travel anywhere at anytime, such as for remote workers and their families and friends.

We believe that travel will be back, bigger than ever—just not like it was in 2019. People have been isolated on a scale and for a duration never seen before, and want to come together. We expect to see a significant shift in how people move around the world as gathering together intentionally—by families, friends and colleagues—becomes more important than ever while the lines between travel, work and living continue to blur.

I find this evolution fascinating and an opportunity for hospitality providers of all types to cater to people traveling for different reasons through packaging experiences in new ways.

A wakeup call on technology from a former hotel GM

Martin Soler used to be a hotel GM, and has since used what he’s learned from working at properties to help build some of the industry’s most important technology companies. Today he shared this wakeup call for anyone who may not be convinced of the need to view technology as a core part of providing exceptional guest experiences.

An industry which has historically been the showcase of new technology is now lagging behind on most fronts. As much as it pains me to say this, hotels are so far behind when in comes to technology that guests know they will have a crappy wifi and are better off just paying roaming fees.

Meanwhile the tech industry is finding ways to make everything effortless (wasn't that what luxury hotels were all about?). Today, the majority of what we do happens through a tech interface. Driving, working, calling, reading to name some. But hotels still consider tech systems as something to add later, or they add some half-working gadget that is mostly a fad (no, Alexa, I don't need more towels every time I go into a hotel room).

Fellow hoteliers, tech is where guest experience happens. It is probably easier to order food on Just Eat than a club-sandwich in your hotel. It is easier to check-out of an Airbnb than just about any hotel. Or ordering a cab on Uber versus calling the concierge.

Consider your tech stack as important as your interior design. It's how your guests experience your hotel. If your technology is based on a 25 year old-PMS with patches, think about what guests would say about a 25-year old bathroom with patches.

Changing roles in hospitality

Covid forced much of hospitality into a period of introspection, Mews writes in a recent article. With a significantly reduced customer base, hoteliers had to find creative solutions for how best to maximize profits, and in more extreme cases, how best to survive. For smart hoteliers, that meant looking at people too. Not just firing or furloughing, but a rethink about how their workforce operates and how it can best serve guests moving forward.

More flexibility and role sharing is one of these changes underway. In their Evolution of Hospitality webinar, Daniel del Olmo, President and Chief Operating Officer at Sage Hotel Management, described the importance of identifying employees who can handle multiple roles. They tested this agile method of working in one property, and saw efficiency improve greatly – so much so that they’re planning on rolling out this model across multiple properties.

If technology can free up time for your staff, do you need to employ a separate receptionist, a bell boy and a concierge?

The role of sound design in hospitality

We’ve talked about a lot of trends so far today: from team building to technology to travel preferences and new roles - but I think you’ll find this last story interesting.

Tom Middleton is a sound architect who wears many hats. He is a pioneering electronic musician, an award-winning sound designer, a DJ and producer, a certified sleep science coach, trained in mental health first aid, and is Co-Chair on the AFEM Health Group. In his music career, he toured the world and performed to millions, observing the positive affects of sound while sharing the stage with the likes of Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.

Most recently, Middleton began exploring sound’s role in other arenas, including hospitality.

If hotels are selling sleep, then ensure you can deliver the promise of the best sleep ever. Science shows that sound, music and noise reduction strategies can all help you sleep better.

A congruent, focused wellness strategy for sound, integrated with the other sensory elements, tuned or personalized for the specific environment, time, geographic location and the people using it will add measurable value to a hospitality experience and boost the bottom line.

According to Middleton sound design starting to be taken more seriously in hospitality, but adoption is taking a long time, as many in the industry are still stuck in the mindset of background music playlists - and even then mostly as an afterthought and always for the lowest possible price.

What makes good sound design for a hotel environment?

Taking a ‘humans first’ approach to design – thinking about everyone using the space is so important. A multi-sensory, integrated, congruent, considered, empathetic design approach. Aligned with the core values, and complimentary to the interior and F&B, appropriate to emotionally connect with the guest personas.

Designers should think about the human/guest journeys and the micro moments experienced within environments that could be enhanced with surprising, delightful, beautiful, engaging, magnetizing, useful, or therapeutic sound-scaping.

If you’re working on something you’d like me to share here - or come across a story of someone providing exceptional hospitality - let me know by replying to this email ([email protected]).

If you enjoyed today’s update, please take a moment to forward this email to a friend or colleague.

And that’s it, folks! Go out there and make someone’s day today.