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Oh Yes, That is Your Job

Category: , Posted:04 Aug 2012 | 06:00 am

There are few insults, phrases or innuendos that can drive me into such a blind and hateful rage as the utterly blank stare of a hotel employee putting down the roller blind because I asked them to go one step beyond their assigned responsibilities.
No, not even a baby step, or dropping down on my hands and knees in a wailing cry out to the great god of management for help.
Despite all the glitter, posh posing and air of sophistication of hotels, in many cases service ethics remain in the dark ages. An arcane witch's brew of standard operating procedures, voluminous job descriptions and a multitude of employee titles have sucked out the ability of these glam squads to think for themselves.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: hotel management is not rocket science.
Perhaps what's needed is the hero-type-mentality of Die Hard's Bruce Willis who makes it up as he goes along.
It wasn't always like that. Hospitality can be traced back to the birth of Jesus; sure it was just a barn, but the welcome mat was out.
Even late check-ins like those three wise guys could be looked after.
Country inns and boarding houses in the old days were run by proprietors who made up the beds, served meals and took care of all those little requests from strangers looking for a home for the night.
We've got pub culture and roadside motels where multitasking wasn't an innovation, but a matter of survival for the business. And yes, at the end of the day, we have the beloved and maligned Basil from Fawlty Towers, who is constantly on the run from one mishap to another.
A few days ago while sitting in a caf watching the service staff pick up garbage out of the garden and hoist up umbrellas, I silently mused how this would never happen in a hotel. Of course, anyone who has ever worked in one would know that departmental lines are drawn.
Gardeners, grounds keepers and of course the engineers for the complicated task of winding up the mechanical umbrella.
Of course it could be a luxury hotel where staff assimilate to Noah's Ark syndrome and multiply into sets of helpers, all under the watchful eye of supervision. Throw in management on top and what took two hardworking staff in the outlet I was eating at, would most likely be compounded into a dozen.
Of course the uniforms would be nicer, name tags sparkling and tool case nicely presented, but at the end of the day, most hotel processes are more cumbersome than the bureaucracy of say the US government – well any government anywhere across the globe is more likely the case.
This chain-of-command mentality unfortunately does not end with hotels, but extends to other service establishments. One dining and drinking outlet I know provides tshirts that essentially are a mark of the beast, indicating that these lower level employees may clear your tables, but cannot take orders or entertain any guest requests.
Let the circle remain unbroken.
Know your position in life and don't step outside the lines continues to be the constant chant of labor inefficiency.
At the end of the day guests don't really care what title someone has, or what their job description is. They are parting with their money and expect some level of service or assistance from employees who work in said establishment.
For staff, it's nonsense to think that gardeners, maids and restaurant bus staff don't want to do more, learn more and grow in their jobs. Of course, there are exceptions, but an industry can't be measured or improved by a clerk-like mentality.
Asia is for the first time coming to grips with skyrocketing labor costs. It's no longer a matter of just throwing more IN THE age of Hollywood rehashed superhero sequels, I can't help but ponder the lack of a truly memorable face in today's current state of real property. Bright shiny technology has the omnipresent image of Brand Jobs.
But let's face it, if I have to sit through one more corporate PowerPoint presentation and see one of Steve's framed quotes, just take me out back and put two bullets in the back of my head like a Mexican drug cartel deal gone bad. That given, I have tasted the Kool- Aid and am writing this epic on a MacBook Air.
This bizarrely brings us back to real estate. Where are the real characters and captains of enterprise?
Rockefeller and his ilk have seemingly gone out of fashion. Donald "having a bad hair day" Trump, meanwhile, is entrenched in a gritty battle over a golf course in Scotland. I saw Braveheart, and I'm not sure about Don's chances with that unruly lot. Yes, the age of high profile property developers Real estate Gaga staff at the task or creating more red tape and substructures.
Hospitality is simple. I remember working in a hotel in the post war Vietnam, where the industry was just restarting after a prolonged hiatus. We'd sit down and explain to the new employees: you welcome guests like they are someone you take into your own home, caring for them, assisting and sending them on their way happy. It's as simple as that. And yes, that is your job.

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