Homewood Training Focuses on Best Behavior

Front office managers can improve leadership effectiveness with "7 Breakthrough Behaviors.” These “breakthrough behaviors” are grounded in more than 200 hours of observation and 50 interviews at top-performing hotel properties, conducted by Ohio-based Root Learning, an industry leader in training programs.

Frank Saitta, senior director of brand performance support for Hilton Worldwide, presented these at the Homewood Suites Front Office Manager/Assistant GM Summit in early summer. The list of seven can be done by anybody, not just an energetic, overachieving person. While these were presented at one session, many of the same sentiments were echoed throughout the two-day training session.

Review department-specific SALT scores every day. (SALT scores are brand -specific jargon for customer feedback.) “Discuss comments with the departments,” says Saitta. We think it’s really important to share them with the teams so they know what people think of them. If you live in a vacuum you’ll never discover what you do well and what you don’t.”

Hold weekly staff meetings. Change up who leads them. “Make sure everyone knows their role at meetings,” he recommends. “That helps the meeting to be productive. “

Walk the property every day. He disagrees with the surprise mentality and says, “Go at the same time every day so you can share your expectations. That way employees know when and where and what to expect. Use that as an opportunity to talk to team members and guests. “

Implement systems that empower your team to create consistent guest experiences. That means using the tools provided, such as the customer relationship management system, to personalize guest stays. For example, a frequent guest’s profile might indicate she likes a non-smoking room and prefers Coke to Dr. Pepper. To please this elite member, it makes sense to provide a cold can of Coke in her room. “We want to exceed expectations when guests walk through the door,” says Saitta.

Be involved with the sales strategy every day. That is as simple as having key team members in a receiving line during site inspections to say ‘hi’ to the potential client.

Encourage teams to recognize each other during huddles. Huddles are daily meetings where team leaders gather to talk about the day’s agenda, common projects and assignments. This is a good place for recognition, says Saitta. “A common human need is to be validated. You need to recognize one another for what you’re doing. That creates a culture of kindness.”

Celebrate team member birthdays. “This is a proven way for managers to show they care about employees,” he says. “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”

At another presentation during the same Summit meeting, Saitta continued with the idea of overachieving as a new norm. He talked about going beyond birthdays to celebrating people for doing a good job. Hilton’s formal recognition programs as well additions to the paycheck are always appreciated, but those resources are often limited or require large contributions to the company. Reward and recognition can be little things to reinforce performance.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Bonita Springs, FL

A personalized thank you note mailed home says a lot. Or, he suggests, a bottle of water with a wrap-around that says, “Thanks for the refreshing opportunity you shared with a guest.”

“Recognition and rewards can be contagious. Once you do it others will too,” he says.

Speaking of reward and recognition, Homewood Suites earned a big one with the highest ranking in the Extended Stay category in J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, the ninth time in 12 years the brand has been awarded the top ranking for the segment.

Bill Duncan, global head of Homewood Suites by Hilton, credits employees and the brand’s emphasis on continuing education for every member of the hotel team for the company’s top ranking in its sector.

“Every member of our hotel team — from management to housekeeping — has an impact on the guest experience,” he says.” Our Suite Keeping and Front Office Manager/Assistant General Manager summits ensure we are delivering on the promises of our brand’s culture by giving these key team members an opportunity to get off property and learn best practices from a classroom of their peers.”

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