The hospitality industry is a thriving sector that has customer service and creating exceptional customer experiences at its core.
Hospitality is also a skill, or more precisely a set of soft skills, attitudes and approaches that are in highly valuable in other industry sectors.
Instilling the hospitality mindset and skills in an organization and its people requires a leadership approach centered on people’s wellbeing, which can be developed with targetted training and education.
Well on the way to recovery post-pandemic, the global hospitality industry continues to grow, change, and diversify every year. In fact, hospitality remains one of the world's fastest-growing employment sectors, and factors such as increasing disposable income, rising demand for more diverse travel and tourism activities, and the affordability of air travel contribute to this ongoing growth.
According to the Hospitality Global Market Report, the travel and tourism industry saw a growth of 15.1% in 2022. One of the sectors with the best economic performance was the hotels. In 2022, hotels generated 595,500 million more in profits than in 2021.
This growth has generated more competition. To stand out, many CEOs are focusing on managing hospitality as a science: they're seeking new technologies, evaluating new digitization opportunities, and rigorously analyzing metrics.
While all of this is helpful, leaders can't deviate from the most important thing: quality customer service. And for good service, hospitality should be considered a skill rather than a competitive business sector.
Indeed, hospitality as a skill can be extrapolated to any other sector to thereby promote the highest standards of quality in customer service and human interactions in general.
Why is Hospitality a skill?
Hospitality is regarded as a skill due to its reliance on a distinct range of abilities and attributes that are vital in delivering exceptional customer service.
In truth, the foundation of hospitality is customer service. And customer service is a powerful skill.
This focus on the customer, which characterizes hospitality as a skill, can be transferred to other professional, business fields and even to life in general.
For example, senior recruiter Larry Chesner expresses in this article how his previous experience working in hotels helped him attract top talent. According to Chesner, developing hospitality as a skill enabled him to be a good listener, humble, and provide exceptional service.
These are the qualities and approaches of the hospitality skill set:
I. Service attitude
Hospitality requires the ability to understand and meet the needs of customers or guests. This involves:
Anticipate and exceed expectations.
II. Soft and interpersonal skills
Hospitality professionals must have strong interpersonal skills to build rapport, establish positive relationships, and effectively interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
This includes being friendly, approachable, and having good conflict-resolution and problem-solving abilities. They are qualities that can naturally be extrapolated to any aspect of life.
Adaptability is a highly important skill in today's world, considering that we live in a constantly changing environment.
In the hospitality industry, this skill takes on special relevance. The hospitality industry often requires professionals to adapt to different situations and handle unexpected challenges.
Being flexible, quick-thinking, and able to work well under pressure are important skills in providing seamless service.
IV. Attention to detail
Attention to detail is crucial in hospitality to ensure that all aspects of a customer's experience are carefully considered and executed flawlessly. This includes maintaining cleanliness, providing personalized service, and paying attention to the small details that contribute to a positive experience.
In the customer journey, any small negative detail can outweigh the experiences that were positive.
A negative experience resonates in the customer's mind, and they are not likely to return to the hotel, restaurant, or any other business, that has displeased them. This is true for any business that provides a service or product to people, including fashion brands, supermarkets, IT and retail.
Hospitality professionals are required to exhibit professionalism and uphold a strong sense of integrity, ethics, and confidentiality. They are expected to showcase dependability, punctuality, and a dedication to providing outstanding service.
VI. Cultural awareness
With the global nature of hospitality, having cultural awareness and sensitivity is crucial. Understanding and respecting diverse customs, traditions, and preferences of guests from various cultures contribute to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment.
Considering the dizzying globalization that the current world is experiencing, this virtue of hospitality as a skill is needed in many other industries. Cultural awareness is important, for example, in marketing, social media, e-commerce, and many other business fields with global reach.
VII. Human-centricity & service excellence
Human-centricity refers to an approach that places the needs, preferences, and well-being of individuals at the center of all activities and decision-making processes. And this enables service excellence. The customer centric approach is the essence of hospitality, which has the main goal of building and ensuring satisfying experiences.
The role of leadership in cultivating Hospitality as a skill
To value hospitality as a skill and reflect this in customer service, the change must start with leadership. Leaders need to embrace this new paradigm and understand the human perspective of hospitality.
These programs allow leaders from other industries to improve their hospitality skills and drive improvements in their sectors. In the case of hospitality business managers, it allows them to reflect on the human value of their industry and return to the essence of customer service as a priority.
A solid training program also encompasses elements tied to a leader's sense of humanity. An effective leader cultivates their emotions, mind, and thoughts to foster a human mindset, which they then instill in their team.
To assist you in solidifying yourself as a leader with a wellbeing mindset, a good academic program will address aspects such as:
Usage of practical tools: There exist tools and technologies aimed at enhancing wellbeing within companies. Termed as "wellness tech", it involves the utilization of technology to improve living conditions for an organization's employees.
Adopting an individualized approach: It is crucial for the leader to possess the ability to analyze and comprehend the diverse members of their team. This proficiency will enable them to transform individual experiences within the company and devise effective career plans tailored to each employee.
In addition to leadership, employees and professionals must also understand hospitality as a skill. Many of them will be the ones who interact directly with customers on a daily basis.
A good training program on hospitality and associated soft skills should follow these criteria:
Relevance and alignment: Training content should be relevant, up-to-date, and tailored to address the specific challenges and goals of the organization. The program should explain how to provide excellent customer service considering the type of customers and the type of service.
Engagement and interactivity: Effective training programs engage employees through interactive and participatory learning methods. Incorporating activities such as group discussions, hands-on exercises, case studies, role-plays, and simulations can enhance employee engagement and knowledge retention.
Ongoing and continuous: A good hospitality training program recognizes that learning is a continuous process and not a one-time event. It should provide ongoing support and resources to employees, including follow-up sessions, refresher courses, access to online learning platforms, and mentoring or coaching opportunities.
Hospitality is synonymous with great customer service! It's a powerful skill that your team should always apply and keep in mind.