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Viewpoint: Who will be the Kodaks of the hospitality industry?

26 June 2015
Viewpoint: Who will be the Kodaks of the hospitality industry?

Hotelier Chris Penn thinks an understanding of the timelessness of hospitality values will be key to staying ahead of the crowd

Life has changed. People have evolved their habits, cultures and expectations and, more importantly, the pace of change in this and many other aspects of life continues to speed up. So I ask myself: with this landscape, how quickly is our industry understanding and adapting to these ever-changing societal behaviours? And are operators prepared to be ahead of the curve and be the leaders?

We've all heard the Kodak story and we all know the principles behind its grim movement from leader to left behind. So, who could those institutions in the hospitality industry be?

I have a relatively straightforward way of looking at this. The definition of hospitality per the Cambridge English Dictionary is ‘the act of being friendly and welcoming to guests and visitors'. This is an everlasting definition and one that does not need to change. However, with the changes in consumer behaviour the expectation of how we as operators will deliver this sense of welcome and friendliness definitely has to evolve.

So how often are you questioning whether the policies, procedures, philosophies and service styles that you adopt are making today's consumer feel welcome? I am sure that you are very quick to answer this without really properly thinking about it, so let's take some examples and ask ourselves about feeling welcome.

If someone judges the way I look when I walk into a business, do I feel welcome?

If I am asked not to sit there as it isan antique (it is a chair!), am I made to feel welcome?

If I am served by someone so focused on whether they are serving from the left or right and worrying about what the overshadowing maitre d' will shout at them for next, that they have no time to look into my eyes and engage with me, do I feel welcome?

If I sit in a hotel lobby with my take-away coffee from another operator and am asked to refrain from drinking it or pour it into a cup, do I really feel welcome?
These are all real experiences that customers have had in ‘top' hotels!

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