The Blue Ribbon Hotel Case Study Australia

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The Blue-Ribbon Hotel is a busy three-star, mid-scale property located on the outskirts of Sydney, New South Wales and is a convenient ten minutes’ drive from the Kingsford Smith Airport, primarily catering accommodation for the conference and business market. Though, the property has been operational for twenty years, it still has many unresolved issues and continues facing severe challenges in its day-to-day activities, delivering consistently poor customer service and creating moments of misery for their guests during their entire stay period. Therefore, this paper will discuss on how the hotel’s internalized problems will have an impact on the guest cycle and moments of truth with the possible remedies for bringing back the property to its former glory.

It is important to understand that ‘moments of truth‘ play an important role in shaping ‘customer service’ involving an employee’s higher ’emotional intelligence’ levels for exhibiting ‘better performances’, making or breaking the entire ‘customer experience’ (Beaujean, Davidson & Madge 2006). For the hospitality industry, a ‘moment of truth’ simply refers to the ‘interactions’ taking place between ‘hospitality attendants’ and ‘customers’, that proposes an opportunity for ‘organizations’ in producing a delighting ‘foremost impression’, ‘rectifying’ possible errors and ‘creating’ lifelong ‘loyal’ customers, that can either have a ‘long-lasting’ positivistic or electronegative ‘effect’ on the guest (Change Factory n.d. & Feng, Stocklin and Weng 2015). Since, the Blue Ribbon seems to be working in a ‘disorganized’ manner, the moments of truth will have an important effect within the ‘guest cycle’, which can be described as a ‘cyclic’ process with the entire ‘experience’ that a customer encounters in the ‘pre-arrival’, ‘arrival’, ‘occupancy’ and ‘departure’ stages (Bairoliya 2011).

guest_cycle_in_hotel

  1. The ‘pre-arrival‘ stage begins the guest cycle and apparently is the first ‘contacted zone’, where the customer makes a ‘reservation’ with an establishment before their actual ‘arrival’ that can be processed directly by communicating with the ‘property’ or an ‘external party’ {online travel agencies: Expedia) via ’emailing’, ‘faxing’, or ‘telephoning’ the ‘reservation’ department, which further allows hotels in asking their guests for ‘warranted pre-payments’ to confirm their final status (Nanda 2013). Moreover, Jamel (n.d.) states that the ‘reservation’ department’s role is for altogether finishing the ‘pre- registration’ processes in developing the ‘guest profiles’ and permitting the property in fulfilling extra ‘guest needs’ through ‘special requests’. Therefore, the reservations will communicate this message across to the Front Office and Housekeeping department, which helps those departments in adjusting to the required demands in setting up for the next stage. This stage is also important for setting up important moments of truth, since this department must communicate the right information about the property and send a clear message to its customers.
  2. The ‘arrival stage’ is the moment when the guest has arrived at the property where they get the first impression of the establishment by being welcomed and greeted from the Front Office department, which is a ‘critical’ commencement in establishing a substantial ‘electropositive’ relationship with a customer (EHotelier 2016). This is the time where the guests have actually ‘registered’ through the reception and ‘issued’ with their keys as per their ‘assigned’ room with their ‘luggage’ brought up by their porters, ready to be ‘occupied’ in the property (Nanda 2013). The moments of truth at this stage are crucial, since the Front Office are exposed to direct face-to-face conversations with their customers and have to simultaneously deal with different circumstances, while maintaining the standard-operating-procedures of the property.
  3. The ‘occupancy’ stage is where ‘different’ departments in the organization: ‘F&B’, ‘Housekeeping’, ‘Front Office’, ‘Security’ is simultaneously ‘communicating’ and ‘working’ with each other for making their customer’s stay ‘memorable’ (Bardi 2011). Further, ‘interdepartmental’ communications are important in hotels for bringing everybody to the same page, that establishes ‘commitment’ in providing excellent ‘customer service’ effectively (Root III n.d.). The Front Office also acts as the main ‘communication’ link with responsibility for managing ‘inquiries’ and ‘complaints’ apart from settling customer ‘invoices’, that is extremely ‘crucial’ during the guest’s departure (Mackenzie & Chan 2009).
  4. Finally, the ‘departure’ stage is when customers have ‘vacated’ their rooms and paid their remaining ‘dues’ during ‘checkout’ time, where the front office can ‘accumulate’ guest ‘feedback’ for rating their overall ‘experience’ with ‘further’ recommendations for ‘improving’ the service quality and ‘intercommunicate’ with the ‘housekeeping’ department through the ‘Property Management System’ for ‘cleaning’ and ‘updating’ the rooms ‘availability’ (Setup My Hotel n.d.). The moments of truth are also extremely critical, since organizations can either retain or lose their customers after this phase.

Problems

For the Blue-Ribbon Hotel during the pre-arrival stage, since the front office manager is facing difficulties in predicting the occupancy patterns either exceeding or not attaining the desired forecasts due to lacking proper training, it is very likely that the front office department would be ‘communicating’ the wrong information to the reservations team that would be giving an unclear message to its customers, leading to a series of disastrous events. Chamelian (2013) states that forecasting rooms effectively in hotels are vital for the ‘present’ and ‘future’ operations, since it helps managers to determine the ‘tenancy patterns’, approximated ‘generated’ revenue and in developing ‘unconstrained’ need for the property. For the arrival phase alone, customers can be extremely angry and disappointed, since the FOM might not be receiving the correct information from the Executive Housekeeper and thus, stopping customers due to the unexpected over-bookings or delaying and assigning them to a dirty room due to the staffing issues in the housekeeping department.

The housekeeping department is the most critical element for ‘aesthetically’ sustaining a hotel and responsible in maintaining the ‘cleanliness’ of rooms that should be ‘securing’ and ‘hygienically’ comforting for customers (Andrews 2008 & Andrews 1985). Moreover, Andrews (2013) states that the ‘executive’ housekeeper is the ‘head’ with overall ‘responsibility’ of the ‘standard operating procedures’ for running the department. In the Blue Ribbon Hotel, since the executive housekeeper has faced problems to regularly control the inventory levels, budgeting and paperwork with retaining staff members and improper departmental communication with the front office, she is lacking the required hard skills along with properly scheduling her employees, which can sometimes lead to excessive or minimal staff members on duty for delivering poor customer service without meeting the customer necessitates and hotel’s procedures, thus, hampering the arrival and occupancy stages for the department.

Owing to the poor working conditions, de-motivated environment and not equipped with the adequate resources, the full-time employees in the housekeeping department are also having a hard time in cleaning the required sixteen rooms during the eight hour shift where sometimes they are forced to stay overtime for completing the task or are sent home earlier by the executive housekeeper without any pay, which is illegal and breaching the law in Australia, resulting in high turnover of staff members due to leaving for better paid-jobs close to the airport, that directly leads to low-spirited ‘morale’ in the department and deteriorates the quality in the ‘products’ and ‘service’ (Markovich n.d.).

Since the Blue-Ribbon organization has also ‘breached’ staff protections, the employees are entitled to report to the Fair Work Commission under ‘unfair dismissals’ for underpaying them, where the hotel can be heavily penalized by the Government and might be forced to close its doors permanently (Fair Work Ombudsman 2016). Furthermore, having the staff members not being consistent in their work with rooms, then been cleaned and checked by the two supervisors for returning to the Front Desk, there are chances that some rooms might not match the other rooms due to differences between the supervisors and employees cleaning procedures, disappointing customers during the occupancy phase. Even, when there are staff shortages for matching the required demands, the F&B establishment is unwilling to help the housekeeping department, maybe by the training periods lasting a month, a bad attitude towards the department and mostly, poor ‘organizational culture’ due to ‘poor’ interdepartmental ‘discipline’, ‘co-ordination’, ‘communication’ and team-spirit ‘leadership’ skills (Mack n.d.).

Solutions

The GM must step into the crisis immediately with the human resources department recruiting the right employees and providing efficient staff-training to the front office and housekeeping department. For the executive housekeeper having no formal qualifications and worked her way up in the department, it would be advisable that the HR assists her in getting a Bachelors in hospitality and pairing up with someone having high expertise during the in-job training sessions for making her more confident in the department. Since the Front Office can be regarded as the ‘service hub’ of the establishment, which helps customers in ‘determining’ the ‘overall’ atmosphere inside the establishment, it is necessary that the FOM is properly trained especially in using the Property Management System for smoothly running the daily operations and having good ‘leadership’ skills in ‘enthusiastically’ guiding the team in every situation (BPP Learning Media 2010 & White n.d.).

For enhancing productivity ‘cross-training’ is essential for ‘rejuvenating’ every department, increasing employee’s ‘skills’ and ‘knowledge’ for outstanding job ‘performances’, opportunities in ‘developing’ professionally, healthy ‘morale’ and ‘coordination’ with sharing the ‘objectives’ and ‘goals’ for the organization and introducing ‘job rotations’, employee ’empowerment’ with ‘rewarding’ systems for motivating the staff-members at the Blue-Ribbon Hotel (Kellermann 2013 & Nankervis 1993).

Furthermore, Herzberg’s ‘two factor theory’ states that along with the ‘hygienic’ constituents provided by the management that incorporates organizational ‘policies’, ‘superintendence’ and ‘salaries’, it is the ‘motivational’ elements that incites employee’s in working harder through departmental ‘responsibilities’, ‘acknowledgements’ by the organization and ‘relishing’ the job alone in achieving ‘accomplishments’ and future ‘growth’ and ‘development’ with the company (NetMBA 2010).

Finally, Pink (2015) expresses those employees should have the ‘self-sufficiency’ in their ‘proficiencies’ for achieving ‘tasks’ with ‘time’, ‘supremacy’ in their goals to achieve ‘excellence’ and the ‘purpose’ that goes into getting any ‘work’ finished. Therefore, it is essential that the departmental leaders and employees effectively communicate, coordinate and understand with one another for striking the balance at the Blue-Ribbon Hotel.

To conclude, the Blue-Ribbon Hotel must adopt the following strategies for presenting greater quality services.

Photography Website: angadarora (viewbug.com)

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