HSMAI Europe People & Culture Advisory Board debates the challenges of uncertainty

Author: Gil Mulders, Chair of the HSMAI Region Europe People & Culture Advisory Board and Founder of the Talent Network

Little did we know when we created the HSMAI Europe People & Culture advisory board just two years ago that our world would experience so much change. Our conversations have always been focused on Attraction – Selection – Development and Retention of the best talents in the business. 

The “WHAT” hasn’t change, we still need to attract the best, select for passion and attitude , develop and retain. However the “HOW” and the “WHY” have evolved dramatically with the health and economic crisis that follows.  

Gil Mulders

The diversity of background within our board, ranging from Operation, HR, Learning and Academia in large and smaller organizations allowed us to re-think and challenge the traditional pre-COVID approaches and also to temper the post-COVID knee-jerk reactions we have seen in the business. 

We covered each of the above aspects of People & Culture in hospitality and asked ourselves the following questions: 

  • How do you attract people to an industry that has been hit the hardest by the economic downturn ? Are hotel schools making the appropriate adaptations to help their students secure the best jobs in what remains the industry that employees the largest number of people in the world? How do you keep your best talents from jumping ship?  
  • Which are the skills and competencies that you need to run a successful business during a storm ? Which of those need to be developed or acquired? 
  • How can we keep employee engagement up when we need to downsize? What is the role of mentoring? 

More questions then there are answers, however we have kept supporting HSMAI members and the industry at large with tools to guide attraction, selection and on-the job leadership development. We supported the creation of the Excelling at Customer Centricity Virtual Class, supported the  Mike Leven Mentoring Programme and together with the HSMAI Europe team and HSMAI Foundation, are bringing together CHRO from the industry in a virtual round table to expand the conversation  

If you’d like to know more about the HSMAI Europe People & Culture Advisory Board, please get in touch with HSMAI Region Europe at postbox@hsmai.eu

New HSMAI Region Europe blog

This is the first of a series of blog posts, in which thought leaders in the hospitality industry will share their thoughts, ideas or a personal story that is strongly linked to the industry. Sometimes personal experiences can give you the best (new) insights into industry-related topics, and prove to be excellent examples of how you would like things to happen within your work environment as well. Together with these blog posts we will also start developing interviews with industry experts, in the shape of blog posts, vlogs and podcasts.  

We start off with a personal experience of HSMAI Region Europe’s President & CEO Ingunn Hofseth

British Airways’ ground crew’s excellent Customer Service

HSMAI Region Europe’s President & CEO Ingunn Hofseth

You can probably all imagine how annoying it can be when you reach the airport gate and find out that your flight is overbooked. This is exactly what happened to me, en route to Budapest from London Heathrow Airport. But, it had a very happy ending thanks to British Airways’ excellent customer service.

I always try to travel economy class but as a holder of a Star Alliance’s Diamond card they always take very good care of me. I hadn’t travelled with BA for a while, but this time I had booked an economy class ticket to Budapest from Heathrow London, with no BA loyalty or mileage card. I got up at five o’clock in the morning, to reach my nine o’clock flight. Upon arrival at the gate I learned that my flight was overbooked and I was now rebooked on a flight set to leave London Heathrow at 2:30 PM. It was unfortunate, but I did not make a big deal of it and remained calm.

What happened next however impressed me deeply. I was taken to a back office where I received, in an exemplary way, a detailed explanation for the delay. “We are truly sorry but will try to compensate you the best way we know how to ” said the BA representative. They offered me:

– An upgrade including full access to the BA lounge with all facilities at my disposal.

– A substantial refund in the shape of a card for use in the airport’s shops, which could be converted into a prepaid VISA card that lasts for a few months.

Photo: Donald Porter, Former V.P. British Airways

What impressed me the most, though, was the genuine personal service. With service like that you’re almost happy you lost the flight and it only goes to show that British Airways really values the importance of good customer service. Whereas some of us become a little defensive in the face of criticism, at BA they see it as a competitive edge and a means of improvement and it says a lot about the company culture.

We could all learn a lesson from that, I think, in realising how important customer service is. With all of this in mind you may be happy to learn that HSMAI Region Europe have developed a new programme; the ECC Programme. 

Our programme, Excelling at Customer Centricity, is an Executive Coach Certification with the aim for participants to become enablers of a culture of customer centric excellence.

Photo: From the ECC Programme in London

The first certification workshop took place in London in September this year (2019). The programme got great feedback and St James Court was a perfect kick-off venue for the programme. See here

The next certification workshop will take place on December 4th – 6th, at the wonderful hotel The Thief Hotel in Oslo

To British Airway’s Jacqueline Jolly and Sharon Fernandez – and all of your colleagues at Heathrow:  Thank you so much for an inspiring experience!

Photo: British Airways Customer Service Representative Jacqueline Jolly HSMAI Europe President and CEO Ingunn Hofseth and Sharon Fernandez British

I wish you all a lovely day!

Warm Regards

Ingunn Hofseth
President & CEO
HSMAI Region Europe