Hotel / Catering

A winning team

by Nicolette Wong

Langham Place - Hotel strategies in service upgrade
Ivy Leung, director of intellectual capital and quality
Langham Place Mongkok, Hong Kong
Photo: Edde Ngan

Top hotel allows employees to be decision-makers and stakeholders in quest for service excellence

Hong Kong's upmarket hotel sector is globally renowned for providing exceptional service and competitive value. With a reputation for innovation and quality, the Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong empowers its workforce and maintains an open corporate culture as part of its commitment to exceed guest expectations.

Improved staff performance starts with efficient communication across the hotel, with all employees making decisions and contributing innovative ideas according to their positions, says Ivy Leung, director of intellectual capital and quality, the Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong.

"For instance, our concierge team and room attendants have direct experience of our guests' needs. Our management needs to consider these when planning new business strategies," she explains.

The hotel has a wide range of knowledge-management mechanisms and communication platforms in place. In addition to regular analysis based on guest surveys and the hotel's business statistics, its operating units also compile comprehensive guest profiles and histories, so as to provide personalised services to returning guests. Staff members are encouraged to contribute new ideas for service enhancement via "I heard" cards, offering observations resulting from interaction with hotel guests.

The mantra "Know our guest, build great memories" is at the heart of the establishment's vision and mission, and putting their heart into their work is key. "We strive to make our core values part of our employees' mindset, and these manifest in their thinking and how they execute their duties."

Inspirational initiatives

One innovation is the incorporation of the room-service menu into a stylish magazine, which also features staff's stories about their experiences working at the hotel, as well as their lives outside the workplace.

The Think Pink campaign allows employees to compliment colleagues on their performances through "You made my day" vouchers. There are also redeemable rewards for deserving staff, and certificates for those that contribute excellent ideas or successfully implement new business strategies.

Diversity is another keyword, and incorporated in the hotel's core values is the motto "Love our people, love ourselves, love our products". The international workforce includes staff from the mainland to help cater for the influx of visitors from across the border. Langham Place hotel has also enhanced its operations and training modules, which are now conducted in English and Mandarin.

"Our Mandarin-speaking trainers aren't only well-versed in the language, but also in the culture," Ms Leung notes. "The move has been well received by our Hong Kong staff, since our hotel thrives on being a pioneer in raising industry standards."

During annual reviews and the formulation of business strategies, high-potential candidates from different departments are invited to participate in planning. A transparent service directory is accessible to all staff members, who can consult their colleagues on operational issues. The organisation also annually assesses staff satisfaction, in particular probing whether employees are happy in their jobs.

"Our question is whether they're having fun, and most are extremely positive," Ms Leung remarks. "We stress that all staff members are individuals with great potential, and that their careers with us should be a gratifying part of their lives."

Support for development

The hotel's flexible promotion mechanism is a major motivator. Employees identified as high achievers are placed on a fast track towards promotion, regardless of their experience. The company also offers extensive training, provides personal coaches and facilitates the development of technical skills for top candidates wishing to branch out into different career directions.

Recruitment advertising emphasises personal aspirations and omits the typical job descriptions and requirements, reflecting the hotel's unconventional approach. "We're looking for candidates that can think out of the box and perform according to our core values. With the right talent pool, our mission is to create different platforms for knowledge transfer and to build our staff competency," says Ms Leung.

"In addition to regular training, our departments also conduct individual consultations with their team members in order to devise personalised development programmes from the 70 training modules on offer."

To further engage staff and immerse them in the company culture, Langham Place hotel runs a range of corporate social responsibility and community programmes, such as voluntary work and activities for underprivileged children. Annual dinners and events such as Thanksgiving parties also foster closer relationships between senior management and the general workforce.

Employees are encouraged to express their opinions and feelings about their day-to-day work on an "Idea Wall", and management provides timely feedback to these messages. "This is one of many channels ensuring an open culture and working environment, so that everyone employed here can strive for a common goal," Ms Leung concludes.

Striving to be the best

  • Employees encouraged to make decisions and to exercise professional judgement
  • Outstanding performances recognised by peers, as well as the company
  • High achievers placed on a fast track towards promotion
  • Corporate social responsibility and community programmes further engage staff

Taken from Career Times 16 March 2012, B5

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