“We’re definitely going to deal with a range of personalities. But again, [in] hospitality, we’ve been dealing with different personalities throughout our career. It is how we [are] going to handle those particular guests that probably is going to be the winner.”

Riaan Drever

In my last interview with Yagna Prathap, I established that hoteliers must make wellness the focal point of all decision-making as the world moves towards a more health-conscious future. This requires in-depth research into what the customers are looking for now, coupled with astute people skills in order to make the guest feel well catered for. 

To help me understand this issue better in the context of Wellness in Hospitality, I interviewed Riaan Drever. Riaan is a hands-on leader of people and processes, with a special focus on emotional intelligence. Currently based in the Maldives, a country that relies heavily upon tourism, his approach focuses on how to effectively deal with the different range of personalities and the varying mindsets guests will have towards travelling during this time. 

Interview Highlights:

1. Mindful hygiene measures

Hotels have always kept a very high standard of cleanliness; however, taking the necessary additional health, safety and sanitation precautions will come at a cost – to both the profit and loss and the environment. The increase in single-use apparel and disposable material will lead to an increase in waste, along with the cost of managing that waste. Additionally, the increase in the use of chemical products for sanitation purposes, although effective in killing viruses, will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the environment. These additional costs, however, cannot simply be transferred to the guest. Increasing rates to justify the increase in PPE costs and using guest safety as a justifiable reason to negatively impact the planet, is a short-sighted strategy. In order to stay competitive, hoteliers must find a way to absorb these additional expenses and minimise their environmental impact, while keeping the safety of their guests and staff first and foremost.  

2. Astute people skills

It is important that we prepare for all the different personalities that we will deal with, especially now that we are in this high-stress situation. There has to be a level of shrewdness when dealing with each guest. For example, there are going to be guests that don’t feel the need to wear a mask at all. Other guests might be the exact opposite of this with germophobic responses to the measures taken. We have to be able to quickly read the kind of person we are dealing with and deploy the right member of staff who can efficiently handle that specific personality. Hotels may also have contact-tracking incorporated into their day-to-day operations so they have a record of guest behaviours and activities should any problems arise.

3. Observe international responses

This is especially true for smaller markets such as the islands, where the effects of the pandemic are largely economic and less health-related. The lack of adequate information to come up with accurate forecasts for these smaller demographics means that they must rely on the international community for cues on how to move forward locally. It is important to learn how the industry leaders in other countries are tackling similar challenges, and what the response to their message is online. Disruption is bound to occur in situations such as this, with new players rising and price wars emerging. Ultimately, what matters is the wellbeing of our guests, and we have to make sure we stay informed on how best we can achieve that end.

A huge part of wellness is caring for the environment around us. Right now, this is made particularly difficult because of all the extra precautions we must take to keep in line with the new industry regulations. However, this pandemic gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really think outside the box and come up with new solutions that disrupt the status quo. We have to be willing to go the extra mile when it comes to service delivery, and we must keep an eye out for new innovations in other markets so we can adapt quickly and move into the future with a stronger business model.

Many thanks to Riaan for shedding light on how to keep the guests’ needs in mind, and for the timely reminder that hospitality is all about managing different personalities from all walks of life and making them feel comfortable and catered for, while also caring for our environment.

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