Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hospitality’

Image

This is my personal pet peeve: Rudeness.  Much of the time it is a mindless, stressed, rushed person that pollutes the air at work, either omitting the basic manners we’re taught as children or steam rolling by in a self-involved fog.  Certainly we have ALL been there. However, in addition to increased stress, time wasted, decrease in creativity & ability to solve problems, the negative impact affects morale, productivity, quality of life and did I mention productivity?  There are two great articles on this topic:  A blog post on the Harvard Business Review, You’re Rude Because Your Boss is Rude, and an article in the HBR January 2013 magazine, The Price of Incivility.   Is this a pervasive problem?  According to the HBR poll from that article, 98% of thousands of workers polled “reported experiencing uncivil behavior at work.  In 2011 half said they were treated rudely at least once a week.”  The HBR study found “Among workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility, 48% intentionally decreased their work effort, 47% intentionally decreased time spent at work, 80% lost work time worrying about the incident, 66% said their performance declined, 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work, 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers…”  Here’s another article from Forbes Magazine that highlights our technology and information overload that contributes to stress and overwhelm.  In it, psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., says “the accelerated pace of office life has us made us lose touch with common courtesies once taken for granted, like saying, “Good morning.”

BeNice

We are in the hospitality industry.  (Hospitality: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.)  I strongly believe that our colleagues, co-workers, clients, (both B2B & B2C) and community are the front line recipients for that hospitality, which starts with polite behavior.  As part of the sales & marketing industry, I know developing brand advocates and devotees is a successful path to profitability.  That means converting the company people 100% to your brand first and then from there expanding your reach to everyone who comes in contact with your company, your product, your service, your brand.  One excellent example of this philosophy is articulately written and practiced by ING Direct founder Arkadi Kuhlmann: “It’s not leaders who drive business; it’s the culture they create, and sustain, that drives it.”  This is expanded upon in his book The Orange Code and has become Kuhlmann’s calling card, his brand.  I had friends that worked at ING Direct for Mr. Kuhlmann.  They all said that after their orientation, “we bled orange for that company.  It was the best place to work.”  Can you imagine the employees’ increased desire to succeed, to be there, to achieve, to totally ‘kill it’ when it came to doing their job for that company?

A few basics on civil behavior at work.

DO:

politeList

DON’T:

Swear Flagrantly.

Be Late.

Bury your face in a computer or smart phone during conversations or presentations.

Gossip, spread misinformation, tell inappropriate jokes or stories.

Groom yourself at work beyond the basic touch ups. (ok, maybe this is an odd one, but seriously people, taking your whitening trays out of your mouth at the lunch table is gross)

I realize this barely scratches the surface when it comes to elevating our behavior, our branding, our success at work and the atmosphere we create.  The reference links to books, blogs and articles offer meaningful depth into the subject.  There’s a lot to think about when it comes to civility at work.  We have gender, cultural and generational differences that can demand slight but distinct differences in behavior.  Awareness is key.  Managers at every level are unaware of reasonable guidelines and their own infractions.  So we have to not only learn, teach and model polite behavior (or hospitality), but also acknowledge, reward and prioritize it.  Is it part of performance evaluations, hiring interviews, event reviews/debriefs?  In conclusion, because we are in the hospitality, lifestyle business, it can not be emphasized enough that high quality civility, hospitality and good manners MUST be a priority at work.  Why?  Quality of life, better productivity, improved creativity, insightful problem solving, greater customer retention, greater employee retention, healthier atmosphere, decreased stress,  and perhaps most meaningful to those in charge: significantly higher profitability.

What do you think?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Go to Hurley’s Restaurant & Bar across the street.  Or go to Celadon or Allegria in Napa.  Or Mustard’s when they re-open.  I’m sad to say, however, that the new-ish, restaurant Bottega in Yountville couldn’t care less if you were there…and they act like it. Last night, my friends were trying to give Bottega a second chance having had such a mediocre experience previously.  It was my first visit.  We enjoyed bubbles and appetizers outside by a blazing fire where the restaurant offers “no service”.  We ordered at the bar and carried our own drinks, napkins, flatware, plates outside.   That was fine as the three of us were steeped in conversation and warmed fireside on a lovely, fresh, Napa spring night.  Our mistake was going inside.  A table in the bar opened up and we wanted to try a couple of the appetizers…with service.  Have I mentioned that Bottega is not cheap…not by a long shot.

customer_service1

I asked for a tawny port.  They gave me a ruby port…and told me it was a tawny port.  We ordered a salumi platter.  When we asked for details about what was on the plate (my friend has an allergy to cow meat…the kind that brings on vertigo and nausea, occasionally followed my temporary hearing loss), the server/bartender (?) said she didn’t know, identified half the plate  and went to find out the rest.  When she returned, she had mis-identified the pork and cow which my friend had already tasted.  Ugh!  Is it just me, or does it seem like too many places don’t seem to care at all about Word of Mouth, or customer service, or hospitality.

apathy

The restaurant was busy, but not packed.  No one else working there, the host, the other bartender or server, ever spoke to us.  It is too bad.   The ambiance was warm and friendly.  The service was so bad that our conversation was hijacked into sifting through the short list of restaurants in Napa that consistently offer good (or better) service.  Frankly, for the experience, we could have had similar service, (basically self service) at Taylor’s Refresher, with a smile, great food and at much less cost!  Disney has service right.  If only Napa hospitality took the Disney Training Program.  Extraordinary, personal, friendly, helpful and non-overbearing service is, such a breath of fresh air, and hard to find in Napa… But I can’t resign myself to such mediocre hospitality where I live! For now,  I will take my friends’ offers in Sonoma & Calaveras counties to visit their wineries and remember the pleasure of good customer service.  And when I’m in Napa, I’ll visit the few places that care to have you there.
Photos courtesy of Google images.

Read Full Post »

I don’t know if you can learn it, but I know you can’t fake it.  That’s what was missing on so many of the hospitality endeavors and even in the first attempted fix for a bad hospitality experience recently.  Heart.  You can also call it sincerity or personal touch, but ultimately, we humans are looking for a heart-felt connection in our daily experiences.  When anything goes wrong in customer service, there may be many logistics or problems with that service.  But when it comes to fixing that problem, the only way to truly win back that customer…is heart.  You can’t just do your job…you can’t phone it in.  Here’s another version of a Customer Service ~  ooops! (from 1WineDude in PA)

heart2

We have all had an experience at a winery, restaurant or hotel where everything was technically right:  we were greeted, we were taken care of and served as expected…but were left feeling flat.  It was hard to put my finger on what was missing, but a conversation with a winery friend that makes hospitality the cornerstone of their customer experience put the word to it for me.  It is the difference between just doing your job and creating a sincere, personal and heart-felt connection.  Heart is what elevates the experience from good to great.  The kind of great that makes you send your friends and family back for the same experience.  The kind of great that makes you go back over and over as well.  Chino Yip had it at First Squeeze when he owned that restaurant on First Street in Napa.  You couldn’t help but know he cared.  Greg Cole has it at Celadon.  The folks that work at the Roger Smith Hotel have that heart in their hospitality too.  You don’t have to be the owner, you just have to have ownership in your work.

Heart.  I say it is easier said than done.  Others think it is very easy once you know that heart or sincerity or the personal touch (whatever you call it) is the answer.  I wonder how much the people who train staff in hospitality talk about heart. What has made the difference in a customer service experience in your world?

Photo courtesy google images.

Read Full Post »

Can you repair a Hospitality Fail?  Ok, you have to try anyway.  And I must give credit to Domaine Chandon for e-mailing me an apology and an offer to give us a better tasting experience. Here’s an excerpt from Chandon:

“On behalf of the entire hospitality staff at Domaine Chandon, I would like to thank you for your very powerful feedback and extend our most sincere apology in regards to your visit to our winery. I am absolutely shocked at the lack of attention that you and your guests were paid, and you are absolutely right in calling us out on it… we always aspire to provide each of our guests with world class customer service and with your group we obviously dropped the ball. I agree with you whole 100% that even a smile or an I’ll be right with you would have had a significant impact on your 15 minute downward spiral… I cannot speak as to what happened on Sunday, but I always appreciate the feedback and I always address the issues at once.

On a lighter note, we would really appreciate if you and your group would come visit us again our compliments.”

domaine_chandon

If you missed the terrible customer service story from last time, check out Hospitality Fail.   There are SO many wineries in northern California, and say I go this once and of course it will be …better, because they will be trying to fix the hospitality fail experience from our previous visit.  Then the next time I go (if I go) to Domaine Chandon, what then?  I’m worried about risking the same embarrassment with guests again.

Of course we will go back and let you know how that visit works out.  I do feel obligated to go and give them the opportunity to come full circle despite my hesitation.  Poor hospitality is an unfortunate by-product in areas where success, tourism and complacency collect…and sadly, Napa is sometimes one of those places.  In these bad economic times, complacency is a sure bet for failure.  The kind of customer service that makes the most difference is inexpensive and easy:  it is that personal touch that reminds your customer that they are important…beyond what they spend.  The business that can offer great customer service with a personal touch will gain my loyalty and my recommendation to all my friends and family.

Read Full Post »

These are people who care, they are great at what they do and are down right passionate about it.  It is hospitality.  And it is the greatest investment any business can make in customer loyalty.  On the heels of my experience last weekend, this is even more breath taking to me.  The Roger Smith Hotel didn’t spend an outrageous amount of money or time…and this gesture pictured below meant the world to me.  This photo they e-mailed me a week after I left was a brilliant stroke of follow up.  Simple, sincere, sweet.   I’ll continue to sing the praises for my permanant New York City hosts, the Roger Smith Hotel.  Thank you gentlemen.

Jamile and Paul work at the Roger Smith Hotel in mid-town Manhattan.  They were part of the extraordinary team of hosts for me weekend there in early February.  This was not a singular experience.  Roger Smith Hotel is hospitality.

 

hospitalityu-rsh

Read Full Post »

Clearly I’m pissed…annoyed, perhaps.  Actually embarrassed.  As tweeted earlier today, I took friends, a wine blogger from SF and a Food and Beverage manager from New York (this is all context) on a spontaneous wine tasting day in our beautiful Napa valley.  Sunday morning seems to be one of those days that begs for bubbles.  We headed north to Domaine Chandon.  The rain, the fog, the day was, frankly, stunning.  We arrived at D.C. as the prologue to start our venture into the best of Napa Valley Hospitality.  Or not.

domainechandon

We entered the store where 3 employees chatted amongst themselves and greeted us before resuming their conversation.  Heading upstairs for the tasting room, we found a place at the bar and tables ready for us.  Fantastic  blood oranges adorned the champagne cocktails as winter life during the mustard festival buzzed on this delicious Sunday noon.  As we chatted about where we’d lunch and visit it was almost 15 minutes of waiting without a single word, glance or acknowledgment,  from anyone working there.  Totally invisible, we looked around, found another place at the bar for about 2 minutes before deciding we were not going to be helped in any way.  Domaine Chandon was clearly too important to care.  With too many choices in the valley we left.  Sadly surprised at this discouraging start, we walked out past the same 3 chatting employees (greeters?) who didn’t say good bye or interrupt their conversation…yet another missed opportunity.

Generally we expect adequate service.  That’s the kind of service you barely notice as it becomes part of your daily routine…basically it is the bare minimum.  Occasionally we get really good or even great service or great hospitality.  When we do get that kind of service, it changes our day.  We talk about it …a lot.  We go back.  We take our friends.  When we get bad service we talk about that too…but it also changes us, or at least it changes our day.  Soured, disappointed,  a hospitality fail is incumbent on every person working there.  From the manager down to the newest tasting room hire, any guest leaving with a bad experience does so because each and every person on that team failed to do their job.

Simply put, we were ignored…for over 15 minutes.  No “hi”, no “welcome” no, “we’ll be right with you”, no nothing.  I would never do that to my friends coming to my home.  Why would any winery let that happen?  We left with me embarrassed by my choice to go to Domaine Chandon and the lack of hospitality here in Napa.  I am so grateful that Elizabeth Spencer (a fabulous tasting room just across from the Rutherford Bar and Grill), and specifically, Vanessa, turned our entire experience around.  With a calm ease and charm, she shared the wines and delightful conversation reminding me that a Sunday with friends in Napa Valley can be a spontaneous joy with just a little hospitality.

I’d recommend anywhere else for bubbles in Napa: both Domaine Carneros and Mumm are less likely to ignore you than Domaine Chandon.  But at Elizabeth Spencer (and at Darioush, Rutherford Bar and Grill and Rubicon Estate) you’ll get at least good service, if not great hospitality.  Customer service is the best marketing, hands down.  For another perspective on the same visit, check out The Luscious Lushes’s Blog, or The Roger Smith Life. It wasn’t just me.

Read Full Post »

mrhospitality

Every commercial for travel, wine, restaurants, tourism, etc. all end up being about lifestyle, hospitality and the extraordinary lengths to which the hosts will go to take care of you during your stay with them.  Once you have the essentials met, a comfortable bed, room essentials (iron, mini fridge, mini bar, toiletries, wifi, i-home …) it becomes a matter of not just making your stay comfortable, but extraordinary.  To me, this includes anticipating your needs, going the extra mile, and a kind of unassuming kindness that’s subtle and authentic.  If you’re heading to New York that place exists in mid-town Manhattan.  That place is the Roger Smith Hotel.

rsh-neon2

The bar & restaurant, Lily’s, looks like an avant garde art gallery and feels like that artist’s family room.  The bartender Paul (see smiling bartender, Paul, pictured below) makes you feel like most great bartenders and hair dressers…you can tell him anything and he’ll not only have humor, compassion and words of wisdom, he’ll know exactly what cocktail to make for you.  I couldn’t get enough of the house plum infused gin and tonics he made for me.  Brunch on both days were delightful twists on traditional fare:  I had granola crusted french toast one day, vegetable frittata with fingerling potatoes the next …I’m not admitting to any morning cocktails.

paulrsh

The weekend I was there also happened to be the start of Social Media week in New York:  A set of meet ups, openings, releases and social media focused gatherings that includes Twestival NYC and the regular Social Media Breakfasts at…you guessed, The Roger Smith Hotel.  So on Sunday, Mr. Hospitality (see Brian Simpson pictured at top) hosted a Tweet Up (#tweetuprsh)…and since @ChrisBrogan was also staying at the RSH for the week, we amassed an impressive gathering that went for over 12 hours including a raucous, impromptu Grammy watching party to close out the evening.  Some attendees include: @coffeewithian (going for 100 hugs by Feb 14 and documenting them all on twitter via i-phone), @sukifuller (completing her MBA), @emilyspearl, @rachelreuben, @nexeus (NYC DJ, U-Streamer), @robbin_g (East Coast wine goddess), @hvwinegiddess (managing the Hudson Valley Wine Competition this spring), @chazfrench (winner best T-Shirt at the meet up…ask him),  @davekerpen (ZBuzz Marketing), @sandraschubert, @robblatt, @nadiapayan, @daveyarmon, @chrisbrogan, @bsimi, and me…@winedivergirl.  Though there were 20+ tweeters there, if I missed you, please let me know and I’ll add you right into this list!

cbroganrshAn additional set of concierge services from RSH pointing me to fabulous shopping, restaurants, great bars and transportation back to the airport  made my weekend overflow with something beyond satisfaction.  New Yorkers are the friendliest f*cking city people ever (RSH and beyond).  While I was in NYC for an Art Opening at the Walter Wickiser Gallery, my time there was jam packed from end to end with the best of what New York could offer me in a 3 day weekend with only 10 hours sleep total.  I made the most of it.  Now it’s your turn.

Photos from my Blackberry Storm

P.S.  I didn’t even get to Henry, the RSH mascot (see below left…)  That will be it’s own post altogether!

Yamile, Chief Restaurant man at Lily’s…demonstrating hospitality pictured below right.

For the best photographic pictorial : visit @BSimi ‘s Flicker page.

henryrsh

hospitality-rsh

Read Full Post »