Whether you are staying in a hotel to attend back-to-back business meetings or pound the pavement all day site-seeing, nothing is quite as blissful as returning to a clean hotel room with a turned down bed at the end of a busy day. Gone are your crumpled sheets, wet towels and room-service dishes. The room has been transformed, allowing you to slip into a well-earned bath and immediately unwind.
Fresh towels, flowers and miniature bars of soap are just a few of the visible signs of a well-oiled machine at work. Like a chocolate appearing on your pillow out of nowhere, the graceful touches of hotel accommodation occur as if by magic, effortlessly summoned by hospitality elves in your absence.
The truth of course is that in all major hotels, restaurants and hospitality providers, nothing is left to chance. These are highly-structured and well organised businesses and even the friendliness of the staff is a part of a grand business design.
So how does it all happen? What goes on behind the scenes that the general public doesn’t see and doesn’t know about?
In house training
Since hospitality is a service industry, the most crucial asset of any hospitality business is its people. Smiling staff members, courteous greetings and attentive service are the things you will remember after you leave but like any good performance, these touches are the result of rehearsal and rigorous in-house training.
From the concierge desk, to the pro-golf shop, a hotel needs wait staff, cleaners, building maintenance staff, gardeners, chefs, marketing managers, social media experts and more. Like a small economy all to itself, the range of staff employed by a hotel is large and diverse and most will receive ongoing in-house training across their various skillsets.
Rostering and management of staff
Making sure you have the right number of staff rostered on any given day is a real skill, and occupies a large part of what hotel and venue managers do. A shortage of workers on any given shift can ruin the experience of literally hundreds of guests so the pressure is high to get this right. Having the right management systems and structures in place is critical. The managers must also be trained and skilled in dealing with different types of guests and employees, so a lot of time is invested in getting the right managers and training in place to avoid any Faulty Towers-like moments.
Setting up of event venues
Like hotels and restaurants, event venues are another type of hospitality business where 99% of the magic happens behind the scenes. The sign of a good event is what you don’t notice. When an event is unfolding effortlessly, then someone (or more likely, a team) has worked hard, well in advance, to deliver a seamless occasion, paying attention to the tiniest of details. From bottled water to high-tech sound systems, table settings, floor coverings and even how far guests have to walk from the car park, nothing is overlooked by this team of experts.
Hotels rely not only on their army of in-house staff, but also on external services and deliveries to bring it all together. External deliverers bring in fresh bread, juices and ingredients for the restaurant, newspapers for guests, flowers for reception, even printing paper and ink for use in the office printer.
Uniform and Linen Services – Dry Cleaners
Another important behind-the-scenes component of the hospitality industry is laundry services. Guests judge a venue by the cleanliness of its linen, so good commercial dry cleaners are critical. While sheets and bath towels are obvious commercial cleaning needs, there are also staff uniforms, kitchen tea towels, cleaning cloths, napkins, table cloths, bar runners and pool towels. All of these laundry items must be collected, washed, dried, folded and returned all in the course of a week.
Like laundry services, good cleaners are critical to the smooth operation and spotless presentation of any major hospitality business. It’s what you don’t see that counts, since poor cleaning translates directly to poor reputation.
Products – bathroom products / hotel toiletries etc.
The little touches in the bathroom, like shampoos and body scrubs, are the result of careful research by venue management. Seeking out the right hotel toiletries – ones which will express the hotel’s personality and appeal to guests – takes time and so management will invest much in finding the right products. This can also involve designers and printers when custom products are being made for a particular hotel or chain.
Next time you are at your favourite restaurant or hotel and find yourself marvelling at a seamless, ease-filled experience, spare a thought for those workers behind the scenes. More than one set of hands has been involved in delivering you a great meal or a clean, relaxing hotel room. Then sit back, relax and pour yourself another glass of wine – secure in the knowledge that you are doing your bit to support the economy and keep employment levels high.