(Submitted by G. Angelini for the WIT (Web In Travel) January 2018
Veteran hotelier Giovanni Angelini began the new year by delivering a serving of “cold hard facts” but laced it with a sense of humour.
Indeed, the hotelier, who began his career in Asia at the Westin Chosun in Seoul, and then worked his way up to become CEO of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and now sits on the advisory board of various hotel groups including Dusit Hotels & Resorts, says a sense of humour is critical to survival.
Giovanni Angelini delivers a serving of “cold hard facts” about hotels.
Yes, hospitality is not all touchy-feely but tough, according to his article.
“Like any business in the world, hospitality is far from a squeaky-clean operation. In fact, in this line of work, we face unusual and controversial situations almost every day. Weirdos and wackos of all descriptions pile copious amounts of c… p on us from morning till night, and yet we must still wade through it all with a smile. In a world that often stinks, humor is, and always will be, our biggest ally.”
Other than having a sense of humour, Angelini also shares tips on how to thrive in the business of hospitality.
Cold Hard Fact #1 to cry about? A hotel’s true purpose is no, not to delight customers but yes, to make money.
“Hotels are machines to make money. Profit … simply takes precedence before people – employees and guests. Sad? Yes. But do remember that money controls the world. And it will always be like this.
“Also remember that so-called financial sharks never fall in love with a hotel’s assets or its brand; they simply buy or develop a property specifically to resell it at a profit at a later date. They’re in it for the numbers, not employees or guests.”
Fact #2 to cry about – customers are not always a delight to serve, some can be a downright pain.
Some customers treat their servers with little respect. (Image credit: Zentangle/iStock-GettyImages)
“… some customers (i.e. the rude and ignorant kind) regard their server as someone who is beneath them, and treat them with little respect. Has the service industry done itself a disservice by continuing to let customers manipulate hotel employees?
“Regardless of what has been stated in the past, the customer is NOT always right.”
So how should employees deal with difficult and unreasonable guests? Lie – but do it nicely and convincingly.
“… service is not about being upfront and honest. Instead, service is about minimising negativity and creating an illusion of perfection. Here’s how it is done: assess, smile, lie, look directly into the eyes, barter, manipulate, convince, lie again, smile again – and in most cases it will work.”
Fact #3 to cry over or accept it – a hotel career is an all-consuming one.
Working in a hotel can be a rewarding career. (Image credit: Michael-Blann/iStock-GettyImages)
“You will have very little time for yourself and family, and no time at all to socialize. In fact, outside of work, you’ll be too exhausted to do almost anything.
“You either strap it on hard and go at it full speed, exploring every possible way to succeed, or, if you can’t handle it – go fishing.
“For those that can handle it, this can be a rewarding career which, amongst other perks, gives you a fantastic opportunity to travel the world, if that’s what you like to do.”
Fact #4 – the ugliest side of guests comes out during check-in when they try to get upgrades but it’s worst at check-out.
Here’s what can happen.
“The most disputed charge in any bill is always the mini bar. In most cases, guests get away with such disputes because a hotel will not accuse them of lying (at least not in public). In these situations, a one-to-one conversation between the manager and the guest can have positive as well as negative results for both parties.
“It just so happens that, among the most stolen items in any hotel, mini bar goods always rank among the highest. The maids, the bellmen, the repairmen, the supervisors, the children of the guests, the joiners and others – all surreptitiously help themselves to items from the mini bar.
“And the chancers don’t end there – among the worst are the guests that intentionally report cash missing from their rooms, and then rudely badger the receptionist with the expectation that the hotel will simply give them the money. However, as soon as the hotel offers to call the police to help sort things out, all is forgotten…”
Fact #5 – a good concierge is more than worth his weight in gold.
“He is absolutely the master of all tricks and has the special ability to calm any situation, bring out the humor, and make people relax; he is simply incredible. A good concierge is usually worth much more than what he gets paid, but, of course, what he takes home is way beyond his official salary – and in most cases he deserves it.”
Fact #6 – give respect to housekeepers
Here’s what they have to deal with. Other than cleaning up people’s messes, they sometimes have to deal with sexual harassment by “disturbed” guests.
“Strangely, it’s generally the so-called important guests who tend to leave their rooms in the most disgusting states: all dirty sheets, spilt drinks, empty pizza boxes, used syringes, bloody towels tucked behind furniture, used condoms sagging from the bin or floating in the toilet bowl, broken sex toys, used tampons in the bathtub.
“Some even go so far as to wipe their a…. on the curtains or duvet covers. Why, I will never know.
“There are also the instances of vomit on the carpet, piss on the couch and floor, children who s… the bed, children who draw all over the wallpaper. Do you want more?”
Actually no – I’d rather not know.
What I’d agree with is this – “The chambermaids really do deserve sympathy and appreciation for the work they do … they are pivotal to the smooth operation of any hotel, but these unlucky people very seldom get promoted. Why is this?
“And why does the housekeeping team – one of the largest, and arguably one of the most important, departments in any hotel – continue to receive very little recognition?”
Fact #7 – dealing with prostitution and pancakes
There are other cold hard facts dealing with fancy eateries in hotels and the temperaments of chefs, as well as waiters who schmooze their way to tips and “dealing with the oldest profession in the world”.
And there I thought hospitality was but Angelini devotes copious lines to “ladies of the night”.
He says prostitution and hotels are like pancakes and syrup. “Some amazing unofficial statistics show that five out of 10 men who travel alone and stay in business hotels end-up asking for the so called company during their trip (at least one night out of a three night stay). Three out of ten business women, meanwhile, will also search for company.
“While men tend to brag with friends about their indiscretions and how gorgeous their joiners are, women tend to be much more discrete and conduct their escapades privately. As a result, solo female travellers have a much better reputation than solo male travellers – but this can be misleading.”
A big question is should hotels care about such indiscretions?
“What we do know is that prostitutes are among the nicest people to front office agents and to security staff (sometimes even leaving a tip). And while hotels will certainly never actively condone nor promote prostitution, we must accept that we are faced with it every single day and night, whether we like it or not.”
Final cold hard fact – wishy washy leadership and why the industry is awash with them
“It appears that the industry can’t seem to recognise good leaders from bad ones. Hotels are extremely complicated, labour intensive machines operating 24/7, 365 days per year, to cater to the personal needs of guests (sleep-food-recreation).
“Dealing with tricky customers and with unreasonable owners is not as simple as it looks. Hotels and Corporate Organizations are not places for “sissies,” but for solid and experienced leaders.”
He puts them into four categories:
• Effective/charismatic and visionary leaders (the winners) who have a clear DOWNWARD DELEGATION of authority that includes well-defined responsibilities, targets and results from each of its managers, subordinates, and units. (Unfortunately these are in the minority.)
• Democratic/sympathetic leaders (average/boring individuals) who DELEGATE SIDEWAYS. Their limited belief in their own abilities sees them overly concerned with making mistakes.
• Indecisive leaders (worthless losers) who DELEGATE UPWARDS. This kind of leader has zero confidence, a complete lack of required skills, and is totally self-serving. (Regrettably, these are the majority.)
– And, under a totally different category of leaders, there are situations where “the blind leads the blind” and those leaders tend to behave like headless chickens. Definitely these are the worst of all.
So which category do you fall into? Time to face up to some cold hard facts, have a sense of humour, buckle up and go into the new year, ready to do battle for a business that, the coldest hardest fact of all, is about making people feel safe, comfortable and looked after while away from their home.
• Featured image credit: tommaso79GettyImage