Micrometrics Marketing Lead, Dave Hale, sat down with Abe Liao to discuss his approach to improving the experience for his guests by focusing on a unique challenge; interdepartmental accountability. Some of the points that they covered were:
- How to ensure teams are working towards a common goal.
- How to facilitate better internal communication practices.
- How to leave the guest feeling exceptionally cared for.
Abe has had a full circle experience in his twenty year career in hospitality where he started in food and beverage at a restaurant and then went on to sales, operations, and now is the Regional GM of properties that pride themselves on having great food and beverage experiences. He works for Lore Group which is a small international hospitality company that has hotels in London, Amsterdam, and in the USA that focus on lifestyle luxury. They pride themselves on thoughtful design with properties with unique stories that are paired with great food and drink offerings. There are 350 employees that Abe manages between the two hotels in Washington, DC – Riggs and Lyle.
How to ensure teams are working towards a common goal:
In order to ensure teams are working towards a common goal there are a few things that Abe relies on: hiring good quality people, establishing connections with colleagues, and practicing good communication.
The way to ensure teams are working toward a common goal is to “hire great people and take that core group of people and really lean into them and give them the training and nurturing they need to understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” Abe stated in the webinar. “You know, I’ve always said, experience and talent are very important, but you know fit, fit in who we are and what we do as an organization is equally important.”
It was clear that Abe wants his employees to feel like they can truly contribute and feel belonging. “Their opinions matter, they can be themselves, but you know I think the core of it is that we want to fill the organization with good, kind hearted people.”
His ability to be a leader that nurtures the culture towards a common goal can be attributed to his genuine interest in people as individuals, “you know I try and remember little things about each associate and something that they are personally interested in or I asked about their family but you know I think communication is probably the biggest success I’ve had. I’ve always tried to maintain a healthy relationship with all of our associates.”
How to facilitate better internal communication practices:
To facilitate better internal communications practices you need to informed, that’s why Abe is adamant about the following:
- Glitch reporting
- Repetition and keeping a to-do list
- Using a messaging platform with employees
Abe stated that he encourages his associates to log anything and everything because it allows them access to data points to see if certain issues are one-offs or are systemic issues with the building. “Nobody wants to report anything because, you know, we’re gonna get in trouble and we’ve kind of tried to flip that and say no no report everything. That way we can make life easier for all. We obviously want the guests to have a great experience. We don’t want our associates at the front desk to have to deal with the same issues over and over again. So that’s been a big win for us, and we call it a glitch report in our environment. We really encourage associates to take care of the guest that is right in front of them at the moment. Make sure they report it so then we can take that back and sort of address the systemic issues involved.”
Another way to facilitate better internal communications practices is to repeat key messages and keep an up to date to-do list. Taking a large list and chipping at it little by little and ensuring that employees have access to technology to review key messages and reminders is imperative. Utilizing a messaging platform for employees also helps empower them in their jobs by being able to have catalogued conversations with key people in their own teams.
How to leave the guest feeling exceptionally cared for:
Dave asked, “if there is a guest who believes the cleanliness of their room is not up to par, for example, how do you go about facilitating getting the right department or the right person to address the problem at the right time?”
“I think whenever an issue, especially a guest issue, is presented you have to deal with the guest that’s right in front of you.The reality is, what things are presented, you can’t always fix it right away, but we have to make sure that we take care of the guests. The person here with regards to the issue has had an experience that is below their expectation. I think the biggest thing is empowering every associate to interact with a customer that might have to file a complaint, you know they should feel that they have the ability to make it right with that guest, right in the moment. What can we do to address this? Compensation is always one of those weird things people just think like if we give them something they’re going to feel better right but statistics show that guests just want to be heard. They want someone to really say okay, I understand if I were in your shoes, you know, I would also be unhappy, and I appreciate you bringing that to me right and oftentimes, so many businesses and all these interactions, they fail because the empathy and the training to really sort of empower people, and put the right people in front of our guests to interact with them, that part of it isn’t there. Now, systemically, if there’s a cleaning issue, you know, once the guest is taken care of, at least you know that information.
Question & Answer Period
Question from an attendee: “compared to branded hotels do you feel that boutique or independent hotels are at a disadvantage when it comes to adoption of new technologies, or is there more flexibility to experiment with new solutions and processes as you said this the first time you went to a non larger group.”
Abe responded that he is very fortunate to be in the forming stage right now and that he has a great team that believes in what they’re to accomplish. “I found it to be easier, you know we’re test piloting a new reservations platform at one of our hotels, we’re looking at new revenue management software at another hotel.”
“I think that’s real sort of innovation and success, I mean that’s how you get there, you’ve got to try stuff. You’ve got to be comfortable with the idea of potential failure. But, you know even with failure, there’s a success within it because at least you know it doesn’t work now. Perhaps you’ve qualified something to a point where you believed in it but you know, perhaps you prove yourself wrong. Those are all things that I, we didn’t get to do a lot of this stuff but I mean, that’s something organizationally that I encourage. I encourage conflict. I encourage disagreement. I encourage a certain level of transparency and honesty as we’re trying to navigate our way through and you know as we recruit people especially on the leadership team, you know that steering committee. We want entrepreneurs, we want people that have had visions of how it could be, let’s try it. Let’s be thoughtful, let’s be strategic. Let’s not be wasteful of resources. There’s a balance there but there’s got to be a certain level of ingenuity and risk taking.”
We’re keen to see what Abe will do next with his teams at Riggs and Lyle and with the Lore Group.
Micrometrics believes that businesses should create more meaningful connections with the people that they serve by enhancing face to face interactions and creating connections with guests at scale. Our hospitality clients leverage powerful messaging automations to improve customer experience and operational efficiency at their properties. Learn more about Helix here.