Working in the hospitality industry means being a jack-of-all-trades and calling on a range of skills at any moment. At times I have been (just to name a few):
- Audio Visual Technician – helping clients with laptops, presentations, programs, sounds, lighting, staging and displays.
- Chandelier Maker – I have built chandeliers from nuts and bolts, crystal by crystal.
- First Aid Officer – providing first aid to guests and staff for burns, cuts, falls, intoxications and abuse.
- Seamstress – repaired the hems and stitching in suit pants, ball gowns and shoes.
- Security – intervened in many fights and arguments, removed people from premises and enforced age limits.
- Counsellor – to both guest and staff, offering a shoulder to cry on or advice when needed.
Below are the key skills I believe to be paramount in being an effective worker in the hospitality industry.
You will interact with a lot of different people in hospitality. Clients, customers, guests, suppliers, chefs, staff and managers. Be prepared to be loved one minute and hated the next. They will laugh, yell, carry on, smile, swear, threaten, joke, compliment, complain and criticise. So take it all in your stride, go home, have a vent and go back the next day ready to do it all over again!
You will spend 3 hours setting an event outside only for it to pour down with rain, finish 450 napkins only for the client to change the napkin fold, or for your client to pick a different wine that you don’t have in stock and you have to drive out to Dan Murphy’s to get it. But that is the service industry, we are here to serve and we are here to do it in style.
‘Can do’ attitude
Whether it is a 5am start, or at the end of a 12 hour shift, we are there to do our utmost to create a positive and memorable experience for the guest. When you have just finished cleaning the coffee machine and a guest asks for coffee, you ask how many!
Always remember we don’t only do it for our customers but for our team mates as well – they are the ones that keep us sane and keep us moving and motivated at 3am when there is still no end in sight. They cover for you, they carry you and they push you. They will be some of the most amazing people you ever work with.
One needs to not only be doing 10 tasks at once, but also planning for the next 10 tasks – all while staying 5 steps ahead of any potential disasters.
Mistakes happen, but this is our opportunity to shine and show how great we can really be. If done correctly the customer will leave with a better experience then if the mistake had never occurred in the first place. Don’t focus on what went wrong and whose fault it was; instead move forward by focusing on how we can help and what we can do.
Calm under pressure
Plan, plan, plan, and then roll with it! The ability to think on your feet will get you out of many tight spots and keep your client smiling. In hospitality we need instant solutions and aren’t able to take the time to sit down and nut it out. We need to be the ones to keep calm and keep everything together and running smoothly.
It’s all about what you say and how you say it. You must always speak to the customer, guest or client in a professional and friendly manner. Choose words that have more of a positive feel, and always filter what you say. There is a time and place for voicing your opinions and frustration, but that place is not in front of the customers and not during service.
Do what is obvious: if someone is struggling help them, if someone doesn’t understand something explain it, if a customer looks as though they are waiting, then follow up their order. However, don’t expect your customers to display the same knowledge. They don’t work in this industry and rarely understand our operation, so be sure to offer them guidance and support.
Attention to detail
The little things are the big things….Holding open the door, facing the handle of the coffee cup the right way, and noticing that a customer’s wine needs topping up. These are the small differences that create the ultimate experience and those magic moments for our customers.
Hospitality is an amazing and challenging industry to work in. These simple yet effective skills have served me well, not only in my 9 years of work in hospitality but in all aspects of my life.
— Article by Kellie, a Redmako Learning Ambassador