Hospitality Leaders Share Secrets of 5-Star Service

hospitalitysecrets3Wouldn’t it be great to have the wisdom of the world’s best customer service savants at your fingertips?

Micah Solomon thought so, too. What’s more, as a world-leading customer service trainer, speaker and consultant himself, as well as a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Solomon realized he was one of a handful of visionaries on the planet with the skills, the patience and the passion to attempt such an ambitious undertaking. Meeting planners, as major patrons of exemplary hotel and restaurant brands, will be particularly well served by these universal customer service tips and techniques, many of which apply to conference and event planning as well.

As its name implies, The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share their Secrets manages to cut to the essence of customer service best practices by skillfully organizing its content, placing its advice in context, then summarizing each chapter into succinct key principles under the humorous heading, “And Your Point Is?”

Think of a CliffsNotes Bible with a Twitter feed; that’s how The Heart of Hospitality rolls.

If you are prone to nod off during onsite or teleconference lectures that dissect hospitality topics ad nauseam, rest assured that the wisdom Solomon has gathered here is firmly grounded in front-line use and not merely boardroom or back-of-house philosophizing.

As Ritz-Carlton president and COO Herve Humler says in his foreword, the goal of this handbook is to help everyone from busboys to boards of directors “create (and sustain) a level of service so memorable that it becomes a defining part of your brand and an unbeatable competitive advantage.”

Those weighing in on how to pull off such magic on the lodging side include Four Seasons founder and chairman Isadore Sharp, Hyatt brands chief Mark Hoplamazian, Fairmont president Jennifer Fox, Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal and others. On the restaurant side, Solomon taps the hot line of celebrity chef Tom Colicchio (“Top Chef;” Craft Restaurants), restaurateur Traci Des Jardins (Jardiniere; The Commissary) and Union Square Hospitality Group president and CEO Danny Meyer.

So what’s the secret of hospitality success, you ask? The broad answer lies in the chapter titles Solomon uses to organize this mammoth haul: “The Last Customer on Earth” (hint: treat everyone that way), “Systems and Standards: The Secret Weapons of Service” (far easier said than done), “Building a Culture of Yes” (how/why to motivate and unfetter your employees) and “The Power of Authenticity” (close is no cigar).

And it wouldn’t be a hospitality how-to without a few relevant acronyms, right? The ones I would be most tempted to commit to memory include:

  • BUBL (“bubble”): Begin customer interaction immediately, Un-code the guest’s messages and pacing, Break your schedule to take advantage of opportunities to interact, and Leave room for additional interaction before ending service.
  • WETCO: Solomon’s desirable traits for hospitality employees include Warmth, Empathy, Teamwork, Conscientiousness and O
  • LEARN: Marriott’s customer service mantra includes Listen, Empathize, Apologize, Respond and N
  • ARF: Solomon simplifies LEARN into Apologize, Review, Fix, Follow up and Document (the D is silent, he quips).
  • ABS: Always Be Scouting for hospitality talent.

To lighten the mood and keep readers engaged, Solomon employs dozens of funny subheads. My favorite? “Do Your Buns Look Good On Instagram?” And yes, he’s talking baked goods here.

At under 200 content pages, The Heart of Hospitality keeps its promise to share its treasure trove of best practice secrets to the whole house, from dishwasher to F&B manager, prep cook to sommelier, housekeeping to general manager.

Solomon has successfully, painstakingly compiled the building blocks for hospitality success. May you use them to build your own mansion.

The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share their Secrets
By Micah Solomon
Select Books, 224 pages, $22.95

Photo credits: Shutterstock.com

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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