Upholding the 3 fundamentals of hotel success
Upholding the 3 fundamentals of hotel success
03 AUGUST 2012 8:19 AM

Hotels are only as successful as their happiest employee, and creating a healthy work environment will ensure employees are achieving a company’s goals.

As hoteliers, we work in a world where personality, drive and personal experiences can impact the daily actions of employees in every role. This is why we want to create a workplace that is fair and invites open discussion, allowing us to achieve the three fundamentals of success: employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and financial achievement. Ensuring employee accountability and consistent performance evaluation helps secure success in all of these sectors.

Employee satisfaction
Each department has a role to play as a hotel strives to achieve overall success accountability in every department. I explain this as a “food chain of satisfaction.” Employees who are happy generally perform at their best and provide the best experience for the customer. When the customer is happy, referrals and repeat business play a big part in achieving the financial goals set forth by ownership and management.

Goals set must be measurable, and the expectations of how each individual’s contribution feeds into achieving those goals must be defined.

Performance is measured once annually, usually during the first quarter, for both union and non-union employees. These performance reviews serve two purposes. First, they provide an opportunity for a one-on-one discussion about an individual’s past achievements and contributions toward the goals set forth. Secondly, reviews offer a forum for open dialogue about each employee’s improvement opportunities and career desires. The results of an individual’s evaluation are directly tied to an employee’s bonus or financial raises.

At The DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile, union employees have an opportunity to be evaluated, as well. Though their financial gains are set through contracts, it is important to satisfy the need for personal discussion and feedback. It’s a great opportunity for managers to sit down and offer an assessment of how the employee is performing and to gain an understanding of the employee’s needs, wants or difficulties.

In an open environment where feedback and communication is the norm, no one should be surprised about the evaluation results or scores because this process is ongoing throughout the year.

Generally, good performance is rewarded with position promotions and raises, new opportunities for advancement, as well as celebration among the team. When the results are not so great, management reiterates the goals, identifies the challenges, retrains where necessary, reassigns individuals who cannot meet expectations and helps the employee reevaluate his or her career path to find a good fit.

Employee satisfaction benchmarks are important. The employee satisfaction survey results, however, are only as good as what one does with the information gleaned from them. At our properties, we evaluate the results and share them with the individual departments. This allows the team to discuss any shortcomings identified and to talk about options to improve those areas. We choose the top three scoring answers and the bottom three rated responses, and then we ask for feedback from the employees with suggestions on how to improve.

One example of an employee satisfaction challenge was the discovery that employees felt there was little promotion from within. We discussed this issue with the employees and asked them why this was their perception. Their answers helped us identify that new job opportunities and hiring must be more transparent.

As a result of learning this, we now have a process in place to ensure such transparency. Each new position is posted and available for all employees to review. Any employee who wishes to apply is granted an interview, and if he or she does not qualify, our HR department outlines the qualifications, education and experience that the individual must gain to earn such a role. We support the tuition reimbursement program, encouraging our employees to better themselves with education, and our company lends support through partial reimbursement of cost provided that the student earns a passing grade of B or better.

While an evaluation should be about financial and measurable skills, it also should cover the soft skills such as personality, supervisory skills, interpersonal relationship management and more. There are many different products in the marketplace to assist in these evaluations, from very elaborate to basic.

Customer service satisfaction
Customer service satisfaction is incredibly important to watch. The benchmarks and rating systems vary, depending on the type of hotel in which you work. For instance, independent hotels in most cases need to reach 8-10 points out of 10 to achieve the satisfactory rating set. With brands, standards are set by the brand and must be defined and shared with the employees so they are armed with the knowledge of what success looks like in a particular property.

Most surveys show clearly where the improvement opportunities lie. Collectively, we work on a plan of action on how to improve the area in question.

Financial achievement
Financial benchmarks often are set by the economic climate and the owner’s expectations. We remain cognizant that some goals have contributing factors that may be out of the individual or team’s sphere of influence, such as the economic pressures we’re experiencing today. That said, we are always looking for new ideas of how to improve productivity, evaluate processes, question the “why.” We also seek to find new ways to do things more efficiently through automation, to find new tools to implement and to evaluate whether something still has relevance in today’s climate.

If you provide employees a healthy work environment that offers challenge and free-flowing communication, then customer satisfaction level is high. Leadership’s ability to maintain consistent training and fair evaluation of all ratings received through the various satisfaction surveys should provide a pathway to financial success.

It is critical that everyone on your team understands the big picture goals and that each person feels responsible for positively impacting the bottom-line results required for success.

For over 20 years, Birgit Radin has focused her energy and talents on leading quality-oriented hospitality teams with the goal of creating employee engagement, memorable customer experiences, and maximizing profit for shareholders and/or owners. As a member of the Kokua Hospitality, LLC management organization team, she serves as the managing director for two properties in Chicago, and the Inn of Chicago. Reach her at bradin@doubletreemagmile.com. To learn more about Kokua Hospitality, LLC, visit www.kokuahospitality.com.
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