Hotelier Middle East Monthly Update - November 2005

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  November 5, 2005

Evasive manoeuvres|~|7-Room-ServiceL.jpg|~||~|We all have days when we don’t feel very sociable, when we don’t want to talk to people and would rather carry on in our own little world. But if you work in the hospitality industry, any and all anti-social feelings have to be left at the staff entrance. Ever been to a restaurant where, try as you might, it seems impossible to get the waiter’s attention? It seems that the staff have an innate ability to tune out the customer, and their priorities go somewhat askew, as they go undercover and adopt evasive manoeuvres. My favourite? The table wiper: the person who believes that so long as they are holding a cloth, they are doing their job. Try as you might to attract their attention, nothing will deter them from wiping that table until it shines. And after that? Well, how many tables does a restaurant have? It sometimes feels that, as a guest, you become invisible. Similar evasive manoeuvres are often adopted by front of house staff. I have lost count of the number of times I have stood waiting at a reception desk for someone to finish a telephone conversation. What really irks me is when the receptionist doesn’t even acknowledge your presence. I don’t expect the world to revolve around me. But a simple smile and ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’ goes a long way. Of course, as with all things in life, there is the opposite end of the spectrum. Invasive service… when you enter a lobby to a chorus of “good morning how can I help you”, or a waiter that pounces on the wine bottle to refill your glass after every sip. If I am out for dinner I want to have more conversation with my guests rather than the waiter or maitre’d. Service is a delicate thing. If the food is good but the service bad, will I return to a restaurant? Probably not. But if the food is passable, and the service great, then the chances of seeing me again are far greater. At the end of the day, I will remember the warm welcome and the good time I had, rather than the taste of my meal. Not everyone is a ‘peoples person’, but with guidance and a little training, most staff members can learn about the intricacies of making a guest feel welcome, while not overpowering them with over eager attendance. It’s all good and well having expensive guest recognition programmes, offering points and prizes. But at the end of the day, recognising the needs of the guest in front of you is what creates these loyal guests in the first place. Remember, retaining guests is always more cost effective than attracting new clientele.||**||

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