CAREERS: How to motivate your hotel team

Andrea Fennessy advises how to keep that pre-opening buzz going

Fairmont The Palm HR director Andrea Fennessy.
Fairmont The Palm HR director Andrea Fennessy.

Fairmont The Palm HR director Andrea Fennessy advises how to keep that pre-opening buzz going.

During any pre-opening period, there is a lot of excitement among colleagues and a building of anticipation as you draw closer to the opening date.

Fairmont the Palm has been open for just over six months, and I still recall after we had first officially opened our doors, colleagues asking me the question: “What happens now?” They had become so used to the extreme diversity in their everyday tasks, the intense training, and the growing momentum during our pre-opening phase, that it was a shock when the hotel was finally open.

It became apparent that as managers, it was our responsibility to ensure that our colleagues remained engaged and excited about their work even after the excitement of the opening had died down.

Therefore, post-opening, one of our main areas of focus was re-evaluating our training strategies to ensure we were continually providing exceptional five-star service to our guests. We had managed to hire more than 600 colleagues, made up of 56 different nationalities, in a very short period of time, and with this mix, we had to ensure that our service essentials were properly understood by offering problem resolution training, ‘wow factor’ training, and focusing on stressing the finer, more subtle aspects of service.

Additionally, we prioritised recognition. We believe that it’s vitally important to personalise recognition for colleagues so that it is meaningful for them.

As a hotel, we host monthly “wow” celebrations where we recognise the stars of the month as well as highlight exceptional service moments. Our colleagues love these events and take it as an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the best examples of service at the hotel.

We also encourage internal recognition through ‘Bravo-grams’ and ‘Memory Makers’, which allows us to spot exceptional service performance and recognise it. We also use monthly department communication meetings and town hall meetings to share great guest comments, communicate progress and share information. The bottom line is, when we do something well, we celebrate!

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