Comment: Duncan Fraser-Smith on the art of hospitality

Comment: Duncan Fraser-Smith on the art of hospitality

Industry insider shares top 10 secrets to success

Duncan Fraser-Smith has seen more than 30 years of success in key management roles within hotels and restaurants in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia. He went on to found his own company, The Cutting Edge Hospitality Agency. Based in Dubai since 2010, he has recently released a book Create to Plate outlining the hospitality lessons he's learned. Here he shares the top 10 with Connecting Travel.

When I reflect on my 30+ year career across many roles in hospitality around the world, there have been multiple stand-out ‘Ah ha’ moments in which I've discovered the key principles essential to delivering exceptional hospitality. These are the highest on my list – it is in no way finite, but these are my top 10.

1. Guest experience is everything
The most important thing in the hospitality industry is to provide an emotionally connecting, memorable experience for your guests. This is not just about understanding their needs and preferences, and going above and beyond to exceed their expectations. Moreover, it is about making them feel like they are the most important person in your restaurant or hotel.

Make every guest feel like the most important person in the room 

2. Communication is key
Effective communication is essential in hospitality and hotel operations. Both verbal and nonverbal communication requires the ability to listen, empathise and respond appropriately to both guests and colleagues showing that you genuinely understand their point of view.

3. Adaptability
The hotel and hospitality industry at large is constantly evolving, and it's important to be flexible and adaptable to change. Being aware of – and embracing – new technologies, trends, guest preferences and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is critical. Always be mindful that the true success of genuine, relevant and authentic hospitality lies in the engagement of people.

4. Teamwork
Hospitality is a team sport, and success requires collaboration and co-operation among all players and colleagues. This includes hiring the right person for the right role in the first place, recognising and valuing each team member's contributions, effective succession planning and working together towards common goals.

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5. Time management
Time is our most precious commodity. In the hospitality industry it is imperative to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively in order to meet, exceed and surpass guest expectations while maintaining the highest levels of productivity and efficiency.

6. Focus on safety and security
The safety and security of guests and employees should always be a top priority in hotels. This includes the implementation of appropriate safety protocols, the training of staff on emergency procedures, and regularly reviewing and updating security measures.

7. Cultural awareness
Hospitality is a global industry, and it's important to be culturally aware of – and sensitive to – the needs and expectations of guests from different backgrounds and cultures.

8. Consistency
Consistency is what defines true hospitality. Guests expect a consistent level of service, quality and attention to detail, and it's important to maintain these standards across all areas of the business.

Ultimately, consistency is a key strategy to a successful operation

9. Attention to detail
It's important to pay attention to every aspect of the guest journey, from the initial reservation to the final farewell. Always walk the journey in the shoes of your guests. That is when you will notice that tiny LED bulb that has burnt out above the grand staircase.

10. Innovation
Finally, innovation is a significant ingredient in offering successful hospitality operations. This includes finding new and creative ways to enhance the guest experience, improve operational efficiency, and ultimately stay one step ahead of the competition.

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