Hospitality training specialist Luxury Academy director Shanine Jajh says your hotel’s culture often rests on the – sometimes questionable – communication skills of your young staff
The boutique hotelier is likely to recruit staff from a pool of young applicants.
Because the hotel is likely to be smaller, its culture is likely to be carefully calibrated so that each guest feels welcome when they arrive, remembered when they return, and emotionally connected during their stay.
In short, it rests on the slender foundations of articulate, intuitive, attentive staff.
For young applicants, this may be the point at which two very different worlds collide. As is so often the case, the collision begins — and just as often ends — with communication.
Language has undergone something of a transformation with the arrival of social media, text messaging and email, which have all played their part in reshaping the language of a generation.
Instant messaging and 140-character limits depend on language being pared down to a series of characters, to the point where traces of prose can be hard to see.
The 140-character adept may be a skilled editor in the making, but prose is still very much the preferred means of communication in a hotel.
Considered language fares little better in online chat rooms and forums, where a conversation can move on in the blink of an eye.
Inevitably, real-world, real-time conversation takes on some of the flavour and character of throwaway language, uncoupled from consequence.
The boutique hotelier is all too aware of consequence; careless talk doesn’t cost lives in the lobby, it costs business.
As social change sweeps onwards, we gain a great deal. We also watch new fault lines appear. Inter-generational contact is dwindling for a whole host of reasons, making it more difficult for one generation to communicate with another and to slip between appropriate registers.
The ability to self-govern language and behaviour, to adapt to different circumstances, is an almost alchemical learning process.
It’s the kind of learning we only realise we may lack when we find ourselves in an environment where social fluidity is vital – an environment like a boutique hotel.
Language is supple and adaptable, as any young recruit will stoutly affirm.
The challenge for the boutique hotelier is to train and persuade that young recruit to find their luxury voice.