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Hotel / Catering

Incentives on offer to induce upgrade of services

by Grace Chan

Benedict Chow, general manager
Harbour Grand Hong Kong
Photos: Edde Ngan

Highly-trained and motivated staff seen as key to hospitality success

New hotels will soon come on stream in addition to those already in business, raising prospects of stiffer competition in Hong Kong's hospitality industry.

Harbour Grand Hong Kong is training its sight on joining the ranks of the city's finest as it leverages on its five-star luxury hotel status and showcases its unique, distinguishing features, notably a view of Victoria Harbour for all guests from the comforts of their rooms.

Benedict Chow, general manager, Harbour Grand Hong Kong, says, the hotel will bank on its core strengths as it meets its rivals head-on.

"We are confident of providing a great experience to every guest. Our gorgeous Swarovski chandelier adorns the lobby and another one of this wonderful art piece graces our grand ballroom. Diners at our Le 188 X Restaurant & Lounge on the 41st floor are treated to a lovely and romantic evening as they enjoy a panoramic sea view," he says. "In addition to luxury amenities, guests will also feel very much at home as all our staff provide them with a warm reception and efficient service."

Best standards

Hotel personnel who are trained according to the best standards are equally important as what a luxury hotel can provide physically to its guests. In view of this, the Harbour Grand staff must play their part in building the hotel's distinctive culture of warmth, dedicated service offerings, dynamism, innovation and commitment to quality.

To inculcate, sustain and reinforce the company's culture on all staff, management principles and practices have been devised and summed up in the acronym POWER X passion, ownership, working together as partners, enterprise and being results-oriented.

All new staff undergo a two-day orientation programme and the POWER principles are explained to them in detail in addition to providing information about the hotel's background, service standards and facilities.

Mr Chow points out that hiring the right people from the very start is essential. "We believe that attitude and personality outweigh technical skills, especially because we provide on-the-job training anyway," he adds. "All our staff are given a mindset that they are not mere employees, but should be made to think that they are owners of the hotel and they should perform their duties and responsibilities with great passion and dedication."

New staff under probation attend a specially designed "job task certification" process to make sure that they are equipped with all the essentials for discharging their duties. Those who successfully pass the probation period are presented certificates, giving them a sense of accomplishment.

Within the general training framework, one-on-one mentorship programmes are also provided. "Our senior staff serve as mentors and this shows our firm commitment to ensuring that our hotel's work standards and ethics are followed. They are also expected to help stretch the development potential of new recruits," Mr Chow remarks.

He adds that every division head is required to set up a hands-on management team, formulate a set of procedural guidelines and identify potential trainers.

Proactive approach

Harbour Grand puts a high premium on constantly upgrading the quality and standards of its service offerings to meet customers' expectations and demands.

To meet this objective, staff evaluate the hotel's multi-faceted service offerings using objective and quantifiable measurement tools such as courtesy calls and guest questionnaires.

"Taking a proactive approach enables us to identify potential problems before they happen," Mr Chow says.

To encourage high standards of service and good deeds, different forms of incentives are given to staff who display exemplary service.

For instance, a bottle of wine is given as a reward every month to the most popular employee among the different food and beverage outlets. Every year, nominations are invited to the "outstanding employee of the year" competition, an exercise that encourages all staff to dish out quality service throughout the year.

"Inducing staff to give their best at all times requires a combination of a harmonious working environment, attractive staff benefits and the management's ability to respond to career goals and aspirations of all staff," Mr Chow stresses.

Run by international hotels management group Harbour Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Harbour Grand adheres to the same policy of promoting staff from within. Mr Chow says prospects for promotion to a senior post should also provide a strong incentive for all staff to do their best at work.

"Hiring will continue because we need to cope with the opening for business of new floors and the launch in stages of new facilities," Mr Chow says.


 

Taken from Career Times 21 August 2009, p. B3

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