Author Archives: Fabio Pari

Celebrating Labor

US FlagLabor Day. It marks the unofficial end of summer. It conjures images of beaches, barbecues, and celebratory gatherings. But like most holidays, most view it as an opportunity to take an extra day off, while few stop to think of its true meaning.

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of the American worker. Laws governing working conditions, minimum wage and the 8-hour workday would not have been possible without courageous laborers shining a light on unsatisfactory working conditions. So as we enjoy time off with family and friends be sure to thank one another – especially those who work on this day – for contributing to our nation’s and our own success.

In the spirit of hospitality…

The Delicate Balance between Controlling Labor Costs and Impacting the Customer Experience

It’s a dilemma that has plagued hospitality professionals for decades: how much does one constrain labor before service is impacted. There are many variables that impinge upon scheduling such as demand, business mix, and market fluctuProductivityations. Striking a balance is as much art as science. Schedule too heavily and you place GOP and flow at risk. Schedule too lightly and you risk jeopardizing guest satisfaction and place your business at competitive risk.

The first lesson we learn as managers is that labor is the #1 cost that can be fully controlled. According to Lodging Magazine 44.8 percent of total hotel operating spend in 2013 went to labor related costs. So it is easy to see how a lax approach toward labor costs can quickly spiral out of control. How then can we better manage the process? The key is to employ a standard metric, such as productivity factors. The benefit of utilizing this standard, as opposed to solely analyzing labor as a percentage of revenue is that anomalies in operating procedures are more readily apparent. When incorporated into a scheduling tool overages and deficits can be identified, analyzed and corrected prior to roll out and before service to the guest is adversely affected. When integrated in a labor analysis tool managers can identify departmental inefficiencies that not only impact the bottom line but affect guest satisfaction. Caught early enough action plans can be devised and launched to hedge against dissatisfiers.

Hospitality businesses necessitate accurate scheduling to properly service both their internal and external customers. Managers will continue to have to juggle the competing interests of financial and service goals. However committing to a productivity measurement system will ensure that a harmonious balance between the two is struck.

In the spirit of hospitality…

How to Give Great Service

Service ExcellenceWe all know great service when we see it. But how do we convey its importance? How do we establish the parameters by which all of our associates deliver consistently?

Below is a definition of GREAT SERVICE that can be introduced in your organization to begin the culture of caring.

G – Guests first! Give maximum effort 100% of the time.

R – Respect guests and co-workers alike.

E – Esteem. Always be motivated and carry yourself with pride.

A – Ask for help when needed and give help when asked.

T – Thanks everyone. Always show gratitude.

S – SMILE! It will make someone’s day.

E – Everyone works as a TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More).

R – Respond to verbal and non-verbal cues.

V – Value every guest and associate.

I – Initiative. Be proactive versus reactive in anticipating needs, resolving challenges, removing barriers.

C – Caring for your job, your guests and your co-workers.

E – Experience. Create a rewarding experience with every interaction.

Lessons in Hospitality

PineappleWhenever my travels take me to Little Rock I make it a point to stop in to @ the corner – a modern diner on Markham Street. While the food is consistently fantastic, the main element that keeps me coming me back time and again is the hospitality. I am drawn to their business for very personal reasons.

The owners can always be seen flitting about greeting customers and making personal connections. Each experience is unique and tailored to the patron that is being engaged. They take the time to get know each customer and utilize that knowledge to personalize the experience.

All too often we are subjected to a transactional service experience replete with scripted phrases and responses. It is refreshing then to encounter an establishment that is the embodiment of hospitality. A welcoming and relaxed atmosphere allowing for the utmost enjoyment. Instead of entering a building, one walks into a home. Instead of being greeted by a stranger, one is welcomed by friends. Instead of ordering food, one shares a meal. It is this relaxed and genuine approach to service that we should all strive to inject in our own service interactions.

In the spirit of hospitality…

Secret of Service


Top Secret

This past winter I was shopping at my local grocery store for ice melt. Our area had just been the lucky recipient of a large snow storm and there was a run on ice melt. While in the aisle the young store associate used non-verbal cues to ascertain that I was in need of something but hadn’t found it yet.


Using the 15-5 Rule he acknowledged me and asked the right questions to determine my need. Although the store had run out of ice melt, he didn’t simply answer the question with a negative (“No, we don’t have anymore ice melt“). He managed to end the transaction on a positive note by explaining why the store was out of ice melt, when it expected to receive more and where I might still find some. Despite walking away without the product I was looking for, the positive interaction will keep me going back. Whether or not the associate knew it, he exercised the most basic tenet of customer service – value the consumer.


I am always amazed when I receive  extraordinary service. I am not sure why because consumers should always be the recipients of excellent service Рregardless whether the transaction is off- or on-line. There is compelling evidence that consumers would spend more on a particular item if it meant that they were recognized and appreciated. Yet, despite the basic human need of feeling valued, most companies miss the mark.


How have you been made to feel valued?


In the spirit of hospitality…

Sales and Service

Site, Sales & Service was the name of a successful in-house training program started by one of my sales managers at a select-service hotel. Early-on she identified that the Sales office shouldn’t close when she left the building, but the evening associates were under-equipped to properly give prospective clients site tours. She established a certification program by which each associate – regardless of department – spent 24 hours learning how to properly give a site tour (features vs benefits), the role of sales in acquiring new business (it’s more than lunches) and the impact on service. At the end of the program the associate would receive a certificate and was eligible to give site tours to prospective clients.




The program extended the reach of the sales office, gave confidence to front-line staff and increased corporate and group business because no guest had to wait on the Sales department. Although the market is more robust today we all need to be creative in maintaining our competitive edge and including all of our associates in the sales process. What programs have you initiated to drive sales and service at your properties?

In the spirit of hospitality…

Not the Service Exception, but the Rule


We do not always practice what we preach. Moreover, we tend to get mired in the minutiae of our jobs that we forget who drives our industry – people. We do a wonderful job of understanding the mechanics but lousy at internal communication and execution. It is refreshing, then, when an establishment is firing on all cylinders. An organization that not only discusses the service basics, but also weaves them into their culture and executes them. I had the pleasure of visiting a Marriott hotel a few weeks ago in Massachusetts in which the staff exuded hospitality. They not only made my day, but also still have me talking about them. Continue reading

Great Service Begins with a Connection

heartOver the past few weeks I have been asked what has been the defining element of my career. Some are known as financial wizards, others as brand innovators and scores more as sales gurus. My hallmark is service. It may not be sexy but when executed flawlessly is a differentiator and a competitive advantage. In a landscape that grows increasingly crowded and fiercely competitive the advantage will not go to the hotel that offers the most amenities nor the lowest rate. Rather, the advantage will be scored by the property that emphasizes the value of their guests. These savvy hoteliers understand that longevity and success is achieved by nurturing relationships – establishing what I call a “heart connection.”

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