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THE WOW FACTOR!

 

More and more companies today, worldwide are concentrating on one word - “QUALITY” and it is has become synonymous with the best in the industry, whichever industry it happens to be. With increasing competition in every field in the country, India too is waking up to one reality, i.e.; for survival, provide quality and to be a leader-excel. These words are very often used in the hotel industry also. With the number of hotels increasing with every passing day, the existing hotels are looking at this aspect very seriously. Shape up or get out is the only one thing that is the guiding principle now. And rightly so. As already mentioned above,


·      To survive- be as good as others
·      And to beat others be a bench mark for others


are two facets which have become the guru-mantra for the industry.


As far as hotels are concerned, the shaping up can be viewed in two aspects:


·      Hardware components &
·      Software components.

We are not talking computers here but the two very important bases which complement one another to make a complete unit. The hardware components are the building, machinery, types of rooms, the restaurant spaces, the lay-out of the front and the back areas and so on. The so very important software component includes the attitude and the psyche of the staff in the hotel. We shall deal here with this very aspect while talking about the wow factor.


What is a wow factor?


This question was posed to several managers in a five star hotel and the consensus answer was:

"Dazzling and delighting a guest by providing him with an unmatched service experience which he shall remember for years to come."

While we talk of the wow factor, We shall concentrate only on aspect of the hotel, the dining experience that is the restaurant service. Let us break up the above sentence in to various parts and understand each of them in brief.


·      Dazzling and delighting.
·      Guest.
·      Unmatched service experience.
·      Remembering for years to come.

Unmatched Service Experience:


What is service: providing a customer with what he wants is service.

A good hotelier is the one who understands that a customer visits a five star or a “A” category restaurant for any or a combination of the following reasons.
·      Satiation of his food and beverage needs.
·      Enjoyment
·      Business dealings
·      But most importantly, he visits a restaurant for the satiation of his Ego needs. An hotelier who understands this shall never fail in his business.


Therefore, we can improve upon our basic service definition to:" Anticipation and provision of requirements of a customer is service to the customer."


Let us consider a couple of examples to understand service better. Let us consider two hypothetical restaurants A and B. Both are South Indian food restaurants with dosas being their specialties.


Mr. Merchant likes dosas and has visited both the restaurants with his family a couple of times.He decides to visit restaurant A today. He is with a business client of his and enters the restaurant and seats himself on a table. An attendant soon arrives with a couple of menus. The order is taken, the food served. Both the diners enjoy the food very much and leave satisfied with the food.

The next day, Mr. Merchant is out with a friend of his whom he is meeting after a long time. He today decides to visit the Restaurant B. He enters the restaurant and is soon seated by an attendant with a pleasant smile on his face and who mentions, “Nice to see you with us again, Sir.” Mr. Merchant is pleased. “Oh, they remember me.” Menus are then presented. The order is taken and once he jots down the order, the waiter checks with Mr. Merchant- Sir, the last time around, you had asked for an extra Sambhar, May I get one for you today? Mr. Merchant and his friend are both very happy. He wonders, “Well, they remember my order as well. This restaurant is really good. The next time I have my business guests, I shall get them here.” The meals are served. Both the diners enjoy the food very much and leave satisfied and very happy with their meal experience.

Let us re-look at both the underlined sentences above.

·      Both the diners enjoy the food very much and leave satisfied with the food.
·      Both the diners enjoy the food very much and leave satisfied and very happy with their meal experience.

Of the two which restaurant would do better business in the long run is very simple to understand. An unmatched service experience is one in which the customer is provided with an experience, not just food which he attaches an importance to and which will fetch him back to you.

GUEST:


People often wonder, what is the difference between the term customer and guest and generally tend to equate the same. A customer is one who is looking for the hardware component of any service. A person who goes to an electronic shop to purchase an audio system is a customer for the shop. A guest is one who is looking forward to a service experience, a combination of the hardware and software components. Once someone said, what difference does it make call him a customer or a guest. The answer lies in the Sanskrit phrase- Athithi Devo Bhava which when translated means -"Guest is God."


The service immediately now assumes a different dimension. Treat the person whom you are serving as God and your role as a server becomes very easy. Do what the Guest wants you to do {in your capacity} and provide him with the best that you have, become your torchbearers.
 


DAZZLING & DELIGHTING THE GUEST:


The third and the most important factor is the dazzle and delight factor, so very important to the wow factor which we now come to. How does a guest get the Dazzle and Delight factor in his service?


Let us consider another hypothetical restaurant C. This is a newly opened restaurant specializing in South Indian food and Mr. Merchant like all of us do has visited this restaurant a couple of times out of curiosity of trying out new places. He is still fond of his by now favourite restaurant B. But the second time that Mr. Merchant visited C, he noticed that the staff in C also did the things exactly as B. Also, at the end of his second meal, the restaurant requested him to fill him some form which he did. He remembers there were some details of his likes and dislikes and his birthday and anniversary and so on. But today, Mr. Merchant has received a greeting card from the restaurant C, wishing him a very happy birthday. Mr. Merchant thinks, “This cannot be true. They actually sent me a card. The day after tomorrow, when I have my relatives over at my place, let me take them to C.” So Mr. Merchant visits C. The first few minutes of his in the restaurant are documented below.


Attendant at the door: Good Evening Mr. Merchant, Welcome in. So nice to see you here.
Mr. Merchant’s mind: Oh, they remember my name. Good place.


Waiter while presenting the menus: Sir, we have added a couple of specialty dosas to our dosa section. You like dosas and so also you shall like these. {The waiter opens the dosa page and offers it to him}


Mr. Merchant’s mind: This is great. I am not even a regular here and they know everything about my dining likes and dislikes. Waiter takes the order and disappears. Mr. Merchant thinks to himself, “But my restaurant B is better. The waiters there remember my need of extra sambhar as well." The orders are served on the table. The dosa for Mr. Merchant is served and while serving the waiter mentions: “Mr. Merchant, You like your dosa with an extra sambhar as well. Here it is for you, Sir. Enjoy the meal.”


Mr. Merchant thinks aloud: “Wow, this restaurant is great. It is even better than restaurant B. He surprised me by serving the extra sambhar and what style, awesome! Calls me by my name every once in a while sounding so professional but also such a wonderful personal touch. I shall visit this restaurant now whenever I want a South Indian meal. This is my favourite restaurant.”

The above example may sound unrealistic to some and some may term it too simplistic. But this is what precisely plays in a person’s mind when deciding on a restaurant to visit. The example given is a very simple one for ease of understanding but can be applied to any restaurant of any class and style as this forms the basis of the Wow factor.


We are gentlemen who serve gentlemen” is one of the principles of a leading hotel chain in the west. This belief helps an organization achieve a lot in terms of service and professionalism.


The wow factor, to set in a restaurant really needs to put in a lot of efforts aimed in one direction: Dazzling and delighting every guest who visits the restaurant.


The factors which greatly contribute in achieving the Wow result are:


·      Hardware components- location, ambience, décor, tableware, other equipment etc.
·      Attitude of the staff
·      Staff knowledge and Training
·      Willingness to learn and do more on part of the staff
·      Quality of food
·      Personalization of service
·      Innovations and creativeness

Training of staff plays a very crucial role in this regard. Right from recruitment to training, maximum emphasis should be laid on the attitude of the staff as these are the people who can make or break any world-class restaurant. The staff should be ready to go out of their way and do something for the guest and this willingness should be installed in their mindsets.

The hardware also plays a major role. It has a major effect on the wow feeling of the guest, but the normal logic states, the more delicate and expensive the hardware is, the value for the meal goes higher and thus naturally the quality of software becomes supremely important. The value for money issue will stop the guest from coming to a high priced restaurant if the service does not surpass his expectations. The quality of food thus plays an important role. The food needs to be of the best quality and of the type, which the guest would not tire of eating. To achieve this is the test of the Chef’s ability and a lot of study, experience and knowledge application needs to be done in the planning of the menu.

A crisp welcome with pleasant smile and the name of the person being announced makes a great beginning to a great experience for a guest. The more personal touch that you offer, the better experience you provide. Specially made reserved for tags with the names of the regulars, personalized monogrammed dinner napkins, initials- monogrammed chopsticks, personalized wine labels are some of the things which restaurants have done to provide a special touch to diners’ experience. A note of caution however, is to be able to maintain a fine balance between doing and over-doing a particular thing as when over-done the essence of the special touch is washed away. Also the cost implications should be taken in to consideration. Costs if not controlled can create an havoc as witnessed in case of many a restaurants around the world.

Finally, the creativeness and innovativeness is what makes a difference to a restaurant’s establishing a wow factor for the guests. The restaurants need to create something new and have an element of surprise to provide every once in a while to their patrons. This ensures continued patronage by the guests.
As can be seen in the above discussion, it is not very difficult to achieve a wow factor in a restaurant. A combination of all the above- mentioned elements in the right proportion and a true passion to excel shall make every Mr. Merchant visit a restaurant on a regular basis.

 

 

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