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How Luxury Brands Can Motivate Service Employees

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Would Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor have tolerated customer service shaped only by a checklist? No. Neither do today’s guests of The Beverly Hills Hotel, a favorite of those two actresses. While leading the 1,000 employees at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, I’ve seen how a customer’s experience can change based on something as small as a smile. At such moments, smooth operations and efficient processes are no substitute for an engaged, motivated employee with the instinct to do the right thing.

Yet luxury hospitality and retail businesses, like many other companies, can struggle to motivate employees. This is often a particular challenge with hourly-wage workers. Few organizations master it. As customers, we have all experienced an overworked and undervalued employee dismiss us with a shrug.

At our hotels, we keep our team motivated and our morale high by focusing on four important factors:

Financial Security
One of the most important ways that managers can help these employees be their best is to start by making them feel safe. Employees can only deliver great service if they have peace of mind. They can’t give their best if they are worried about their incomes or job security. Creating this sense of safety is really about speaking to two parts of each employee: his heart and his head.

Forgiveness
Fair pay is the basis for creating an organization where employees feel secure, but of course, it’s not enough. You also have to manage each employee’s emotions – that’s the heart. One of the most powerful ways to do this as a manager is to forgive errors. No matter how high your standards, perfection is beyond human reach. True forgiveness must be felt, not just stated.

When a person in my organization makes a mistake, I always try to ask: Are they repeating a mistake or making it for the first time? Can we forgive and teach? Sometimes the cerebral policy has to bend to the heart – because the employee made a mistake trying to do the right thing. Perhaps the employee took initiative to solve a customer problem for which we don’t have a policy. Looked at that way, maybe the mistake wasn’t a mistake after all.

It’s just as important to practice collective forgiveness. A hotel in San Francisco where I worked previously lost a 5-star travel rating after an inspector gave us a poor grade for front-of hotel experience. We had to connect head and heart to rally the team to win the rating back– even as customer volume was booming and we always felt short-staffed.

For two years, we nurtured excellence, meeting with employees one-on-one to analyze service. A secret shopper evaluated the team every six to eight weeks. At shift meetings, we shared the results, praising successes and noting mistakes. Individuals who scored well earned gift certificates or salary boosts. Soon, staffers were congratulating each other for 100% test scores. We shared positive reinforcement openly, but gave negative feedback privately, in combination with coaching.

Respect
When I arrived at The Beverly Hills Hotel, the employee entrance and locker rooms were, in the words of one colleague, “horrific” — quite run down and dirty. When you’re asking people to come to work in an ultra-luxury environment, this is a stark way to start the day. So we revamped the employee entrance to resemble the hotel’s iconic front-of-house arrival area for the guests — down to the green-and- white-striped canopy, palm plants, and red carpet. Today when employees come to work, they walk the red carpet, with music playing in the background. They have a sense of arrival and strong team morale.

Decisions like these lead employees to articulate not only that your company is a good place to work, but also why it is a good place to work.

Communication
To make employees feel safe, respected, and when necessary, forgiven, leaders have to make themselves available. At the Beverly Hills we have an open-door policy. Any employee can come see me with a question or suggestion. According to employee survey data, that policy helped overall employee engagement rise by 12% between 2010 and 2014. And at lunchtime, I frequently eat in the employee cafeteria, not the guest dining room, and I sit with different people in order to hear a range of feedback. This also gives me the opportunity to put our company’s good growth news front and center for our team, which reassures everyone in the organization – from the back office to the lobby – that their incomes are secure. It’s a positive, self-reinforcing loop.

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Why Spas Can Cure Your Social Media Overload

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I don’t know if you’ve read about Essena O’Neil. She’s an 18 year old Australian Instagram model with over a half million followers. This week she decided to end her social media career Read More

Employee engagement – how does your spa team rate?

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As we come into the holiday season most spas will begin to experience an upturn in their customer bookings and overall sales.  But is your staff  delivering the kind of positive experience that will have your new customers craving more? Read More

Is Your Spa Good Enough for Your Family?

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When I first met Khun Kate we hit it off right away. She had just opened her anti-aging clinic in Bangkok around the same time that I’d launched my online retail training class. We spent two hours bonding over the topics of favorite vacations spots, anti-aging treatments and perfect customer service. Read More

Cannabis & Wellness: The Spa Connection

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Cannabis aka marijuana prohibition is entering its 78th year in the United States. But attitudes toward the plant are changing. Compared to 1968 when only 12% of the population supported legalizing marijuana, today the majority supports legalization.

Earlier this year I was very surprised to read that spa and wellness authority Spa Finder had listed “Cannabis: New spa and wellness connections” as their number two trend for 2015. Read More

Why Your CEO Needs to be Tweetin’

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As a spa trainer and consultant I do a lot of information gathering. Two of my sources are LinkedIn’s Pulse magazine and articles on Twitter. Twitter’s information is in real time, fast moving and can be customized to appeal to specific demographics. It makes me wonder why more C-Suite executives from the hospitality industry aren’t using Twitter to reach a broader audience.

According to Leslie Gaines-Ross of Weber Shandwick, a recent analysis in Harvard Business Review, found that 80% of the chief executive officers of the world’s largest 50 companies are engaged online and on social media.

None of those companies include hotel groups. Indeed when trying to find CEO’s from that sector who tweet, I was able to locate only three; Greg Marcus of Marcus Hotels, Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels and of course Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Hotels.

Want to read more? Click here>>>http://huff.to/1IlBUU9

Five Hidden Gems on Pulse, to Sharpen Spa Performance

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 Spa and beauty industry people.  You know who you are. You’re always consumed with handling staff or customers or both. Rarely do you  have time to peruse the articles on LinkedIn’s Pulse for news that might  impact how you conduct business. But as an information junkie, I do.  So here in a roundup are excerpts from five articles that I’ve read in the past week which gave me pause.  They might do the same for you. Read More

How the Consumer-Led Economy is Disrupting the Hotel Industry

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The hotel and spa industries are being challenged by social media and their newest largest consumer group, Millennials. Here, marketing expert and social media influencer Norm Bond gives us his views on the current state of affairs; 
The hotel industry is being disrupted. Of course we know about Airbnb but they may actually be the least of the industry’s problems. The real challenge is changing the culture of a business sector that has experienced tremendous success. History shows it’s difficult and the result is that former household names may go the way of Borders Books. In today’s digital age we’ve seen this dynamic play out in publishing, music, and even the electronics retail industry as with the 94-year-old brand Radio Shack.
millennials w iphonesThe consumer is in the business driver’s seat like never before. Social media, mobile and digital devices have changed the rules of marketing and customer service. Many of the traditional practices of the hotel industry are liabilities when targeting the most rapidly growing consumer segment, read that as millennials.
Want to read more? Click here>>>http://bit.ly/1KzE1rp