As 2020 limps along towards the finish line, it is so easy to focus on the things that have gone wrong this year. A lot of things have been derailed in the hospitality industry. Loss of revenue, loss of staff, loss of time and a loss of spirit. The aspects that make us love or respect our industry are no longer fun. While one can create a list of the countless situations that have gone wrong and awry, the focus should be on the things that have gone right, or at the bare minimum, things that have become opportunities.
While “the spirit of hospitality” normally refers to how we treat our guests, this year that mantra was reflected in how our GMs have rallied around and treated each other. There are so many instances of our people helping each other, checking on each other, and just being there when a day went completely sideways. This was not exclusive to our Palette Hotels GMs, but you all did set the bar high.
I set out this last week to find out what good came of 2020 according to our associates. The feedback was pretty much universal and even surprising
Opportunity to learn and re-learn tasks. With a shortage of staff, teams had to fill in, dig in, and get things done. General managers became remarkably familiar with the front desk and cleaning rooms again. Night auditors became laundry attendants. Sales associates ran front desk shifts. RDOs covered shifts. As John at our Las Vegas property put it “we had to go back to basics.” Was this ideal? No. Did you accomplish it? Yes. And hopefully with some flair.
Greater appreciation for how money works. Now, there may be some disagreement about the word “appreciation”, but all our properties had to learn how to do more with less and come to terms with the word “no”. If you think about it, this makes a hotel stronger in the long run. It proves one’s creativity and capacity for stretching a dollar. Everyone becomes so much more conservative and critical of the things they really need to operate. Housekeeping storage closets were scoured, and maintenance shops have been inventoried. Is it frustrating to have to second guess every purchase? Yes. Do you find hidden treasures stored all over your property? Probably so.
Team building. This can be such a clichéd term in any industry. Honestly, many of you were able to build tighter teams. With less people, teams had to heavily rely on each other to get things done. Every day was not perfect, but for those associates who rode out this situation for you, they are a perfect part of your team. Terra M. at the Hotel Indigo, El Paso Downtown shared “if you had told me a year ago that we could run a 119 room, full service hotel, with 17 people, I would have told you that you’re crazy. But we did it and we’re stronger for it”. Cynthia H. at the full-service Holiday Inn in Beaumont stated, “my team is so much closer now. If we can keep that momentum for 2021 and add to it, we’ll be set”.
Learning strengths and weaknesses. As GMs have been stretched thin, associates are being tasked with stepping up. Theresa C. in Beaumont stated, “I started realizing that my people are very capable and can be trusted with more responsibility”. It takes time and energy to train people, but the right person can make all the difference in the world. The Candlewood in Abilene saw front desk willing to clean rooms, some of the part time associates took on a few more shifts, and more people asked to be taught how to do administrative things in order to help out. It only takes a handful of people to build an army.
Networking. If you did not know all the GMs in your brand, you probably do now. With brand furloughs making getting questions answered a lengthy process, there was so much reaching out to and collaborating with fellow GMs. Tom T. at the La Quinta set a great example of reaching out to our newest GM at the Candlewood Abilene. Tom has had a less than ideal hand dealt to him lately but made the effort to extend his help. This level of fellowship has transcended work and became a daily routine. Phone calls, texts, and emails to each other, checking to see if people were ok or if they needed anything. As a company, and I cannot emphasize this enough, we have such a special group General Managers and associates who care about each other and that alone embodies the spirit of hospitality.
My respect and admiration for GMs and staff that have toughed it out and tried to make the best of this year, is endless. Your kindness to each other has been unparalleled. And while I will be the first to tell you that The Spirit of Hospitality has been tested, stretched, and frayed, it hasn’t broken. Your efforts and dedication are what keeps it intact.
On behalf of our Corporate Team at Palette Hotels Developments- Hotel Management Company,
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.