Tag Archive: Hospitality

  1. Street Smarts as a Leadership Style

    What does it mean to have street smarts in business? It’s about thinking on your feet and making quick decisions in high-stress situations. It’s about having the foresight to see all possible outcomes in front of you, and using your experience to guide your judgement.

    Streets smarts is an asset in leadership. According to Julie Nelson, CEO of Meeting Muse, a meeting and event planning company, street smarts is essential, especially in her line of work:

    Street smart is knowing the appropriate fix for the situation, and knowing the consequence connected to the choice you’re about to make. In event planning, the most important part of our role is on site [where a meeting or event is taking place]. That’s when all the plans can go wrong. You’ve got to be really quick on your feet to make sure you can deliver a great program, even if it’s not to the script you wrote for it.” 

    Streets smarts came into play at an event when a keynote speaker that Nelson had hired had an anxiety attack on stage. Nelson immediately jumped into action and approached an attendee in the audience she knew was trying to perfect his public speaking skills. She told him he was on in five, and he took the stage for a great presentation. Crisis averted!

    Street smarts also has to do with knowing who you can trust with important tasks in your business. Nelson says she’s selective when it comes to her staff of contractors. She doesn’t just hire able bodies. She has a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of her regular contractors, and she knows who will shine in certain situations.

    From her 15 years in the business, Nelson has an arsenal of people in her talent pool that she can pull in as needed. When working with someone new, she provides support but also gives them space to learn and and grow and test themselves on non-critical parts of a project.

    I have internal red flags built in. I like to manage people who are good at what they do, but still perfecting their skills. I like to be able to oversee what they’re doing and collaborate with them. I can tell when people feel not-so-confident about what they’re doing. I can hear it in their voice. My intuition tells me when to step in.”

    Where does street smarts come from? Certain qualities, like realistic thinking, self-reliance, and assertiveness, are built into your personality. For Nelson, she says she’s always been very curious and has always enjoyed figuring things out. One summer day as a kid, she taught herself to ride a bike. “I wanted to learn,” she says, “and my parents were at work.”

    Street smarts is also something you sharpen over time. Nelson says now that she’s put in her 10,000 hours in meeting and event planning, she has strong instincts and a clear understanding of “choice and consequence” in her craft.

    To learn more about street smarts, relationship building, and becoming an expert, listen to our podcast episode with Julie Nelson here on iHeartRadio.

  2. Tips for Hiring a Strong Hotel Staff

    Staffing a hotel is no easy feat. With turnover at 50% for non-management hotel employees, you’ll end up replacing half of your staff every few months. To slow the cycle of hire, train, repeat, you have to be sure that the people you bring on are right for the role—meaning they have the traits and competencies to succeed in the position, and possibly the potential to move up within your organization.


    For most hotels and resorts, the housekeeping staff is the largest employee population. In fact, hotels employ almost 500,000 people in housekeeping across the U.S. Here are the most important traits to look for as you hire housekeeping attendants:

    • Energy
    • Pride in Work
    • Criticism Tolerance
    • Integrity

    Employees with these traits will be better suited to handle the demands of housekeeping, which can include long, antisocial hours and unsupervised work.

    Front Desk

    With almost 250,000 hotel desk clerks nationwide, the front desk staff represents the front-line of guest service. These employees welcome guests into the hotel and set the tone for the rest of their stay. When hiring front desk reps, keep an eye out for these key traits:

    • Energy
    • Self-Reliance
    • Multitasking
    • Problem Solving
    • Positive Service Attitude
    • Resilience
    • Interpersonal Insight
    • Sociability
    • Accommodation to Others
    • Criticism Tolerance

    Because guests expect a genuine smile and a pleasant experience, it’s important that employees are a natural fit for the job. If they’re pushed too far out of their comfort zone, they’ll be at a higher risk for burnout and your service levels will suffer.

    How’s Your Intuition?

    Unfortunately, none of these traits are very easy to spot when you first meet someone—and your need to fill positions quickly probably keeps you from feeling 100% confident when it’s time to extend an offer. To see how candidates score on each of these key traits, try using hospitality assessments for housekeeping, front desk, and more.

  3. Are You Asking the Right Interview Questions?

    How do you really get to know a candidate during the hiring process? You’ve got a small amount of time to make a big investment, and depending on your process, you may only have one or two opportunities to talk with a candidate over the phone or face-to-face. To get the most out of these brief interactions, you have to be smart about the questions you ask.

    We’ve all heard that behavioral interviewing is more effective than asking hypothetical questions, but why?

    Avoid getting vague or generic answers

    Hypothetical questions put candidates in a future scenario where they can imagine ideal outcomes. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, and they won’t provide details about how they’ve worked through similar situations in the past because the hypothetical scenario hasn’t actually happened—and it doesn’t involve real people or real events.

    To see the difference, here are two interview questions centered around customer service:

    Hypothetical Q: “Tell me how you would handle an upset customer.”

    Behavioral Q: “Tell me about a time when a customer was unreasonable. What happened? What made the customer upset? How did you handle it? What was the end result?”

    As you can see, you’ll get much more insight when you ask for a specific example rather than an open-ended future scenario. Plus, when you put a candidate on the spot like this, you’re more likely to get honest answers about challenges and outcomes.

    Probe for more details

    When you probe for more details, like in the behavioral example above, you can quickly tell if the situation is real, and then tap into the decision-making process that led the candidate down a particular path. You can also ask what they learned from the situation. Here’s an example of how you can use probes to dig deeper:

    Q: “Tell me about a past performance review where you received positive feedback and then tell me about one where you received negative feedback.”

    Additional probes: “What have you done with that feedback? What can you still do to improve?”

    As the candidate responds, listen for subtleties around attitudes that may have influenced their behavior. Are they bitter about a negative incident, or did they use it as an opportunity to learn and grow? Do they blame an organization or a customer, or hold themselves accountable? Overall, did they handle the situation the way you would expect your employees to handle it?

    Ask about the assessment experience

    If you use job fit assessments, the candidate’s results will include behavioral interview questions and probes based on important success factors for the job. For example, if you’re hiring for a customer service role, you need to be sure the candidate has a strong sense of urgency and can be accommodating and friendly.

    It’s a also good idea to ask the candidate about their experience with the assessment. Here are some questions you might ask:

    Q: “What did you think about the assessment and have you ever taken one before?”

    Q: “How do you think you did on the assessment? We all have developmental areas we’re working to improve in our career. What areas do you think you scored lower on or what areas do you think you need to improve?”

    The first question will help you understand if the candidate felt anxious or overanalyzed any items while taking the assessment, and the second will help you determine if the candidate has a clear understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.

    The answers you get in an interview can lead you closer to choosing the right person (or the wrong person) for the role. So make every question count!

  4. 7 Customer Service Traits You Can’t Teach

    Representative. Representative. REPRESENTATIVE!

    How many times have you shouted this at the phone? By the time you actually reach a person, you’re exhausted and testy. A good customer rep can quickly calm you down, but a bad one can make the situation even worse.

    According to a Gartner report, 89% of companies plan to boost their customer service in 2016, a dramatic increase from 58% in 2015. But hiring customer service reps is a tricky business. You want people that are “trainable,” who can quickly learn about your products and your company. But you also need people who have some natural tendencies too.

    For example, a good customer service rep can:

    Be Patient

    This trait tops the list. Not only is patience important to customers, who often reach out to support when they’re confused and frustrated, but it’s also important to the business. Great service beats fast service.

    Keep Their Cool

    The best customer service reps will keep a customer from tearing their hair out. It’s their job to be a rock and to stay calm under pressure.

    Handle Surprises

    Not all problems are going to be found in the customer service handbook. People are unpredictable, and a good customer service rep can think on their feet.

    Have Great Acting Skills

    Some people will never be happy and will work to drag others down with them. A good customer service rep won’t let this happen.

    Be Subtly Persuasive

    Experienced customer service reps find opportunities to broaden the conversation when people who are curious about a product as opposed to having a problem with it. This is where the power of persuasion comes in.

    Be Tenacious

    A great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people remember and tell their friends about. It’s about going that extra mile for the customer.

    Be Willing to Learn

    Those who don’t seek to improve what they do, whether it’s learning a new process or expanding a skill set, will get left behind, especially as companies invest more and more in their customer service departments.

    Learn more about predicting success in customer service.