• Dylan Cottrill

Success; Perspective or Changing Application?

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

“There was no vision, there was no grand dream,” says Isador Sharp, reflecting on the last 50 years that have passed since the first Four Seasons – a modest motor hotel – opened in downtown Toronto. “But there has always been a consistent thread and it propels us forward today, as we continue to grow globally, and that’s service.” However, can we rest solely on the practice of service to determine our success? Perhaps, for us to answer this, we need to focus more specifically on how we understand the term “success”.


But first, service. The core of any hospitality establishment, without which, the transaction would become static, a simplistic transaction of a material asset for currency. That is not what hospitality is, it is about taking the seemingly simple concept that is renting a room or creating an experience and making it unforgettable and exceedingly pleasant. The service aspect of any business can make or break the success of an establishment. Overall success in the business is very dependent on the effectiveness and internal success of their service. However, service is not always that easy to get right, especially as it has the added pressure of the expectations of service varying from guest to guest.


When asked to define success; Maya Angelou, the acclaimed author, said that success is about enjoying your work. I couldn’t say it any better, it is a profound statement that doesn’t apply to just one industry, but them all. When a person enjoys their work they perform far better, when a person is happy with their career and the path they are on, they feel more indebted to their place of employment. Taking the words of Angelou, I believe that the success of a company lies within the satisfaction of your workforce, meaning that their enjoyment of work leads to the success of the unit. When your employees are happy, they exude happiness, positivity and loyalty in the workplace, which guests truly respond to. So, this opens the question; is success measured based on individual perspective? Is my success unique to my interaction with it and therefore cannot be synonymous to another’s perspective of success? Or does the world that we live in determine what success should be?



While Angelou suggests that success is about our personal accomplishment within success, our hotels tend to have their own expectations of service. Standards set to control and determine the expected achievement of success. When providing a service to a guest, will I be successful if I serve the guest within the brand standards of the hotel or will I be successful based on my personal accomplishment? Perhaps a colleague of mine is a confident public speaker while I struggle to engage with guests freely. If I serve the guest, make their experience memorable and leave a lasting impression on them but I struggle to engage on a verbal level with the guest, would my colleague be more successful simply because his conversations with the guest went into more depth?


The simple, yet effective strategy that The Four Seasons team accidentally stumbled upon through sheer luck and love of hospitality is one that many in today's industry try to adopt. Now, that may seem straight forward, but it certainly is not. What many do not consider is, how important the happiness of their workforce is to the success of their business. Too many establishments are focusing on the bottom line and too few persist with the true heart of a successful hospitality unit – service. Often, brand standards do not take into consideration individual challenges and constraints that would ultimately distort individual success.


With technology changing the perception of service to the market it is an ever-changing aspect of the industry. The quick adoption of new technology implementations by the millennial generation makes it all too tempting for hospitality companies to make their offerings more enticing to the millennials. Bringing these technological advances to the industry pull away from that winning strategy that The Four Seasons is so well-known for. Adapting technology to service could mean an overhaul of what success means to the industry, changing the meaning of hospitality for years to come and turning the Four Seasons story into a distant memory. Ultimately, eliminating individual perspectives and approaches to success while technology holds the standard to what is expected of success.


Dylan Cottrill | LinkedIn

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