Adam Galea – Asian Service in Hospitality
The hotel industry in the United States prides itself on its service and hospitality. A core concept that could be found in some variation in every employee handbook is the idea of going above and beyond to meet every guest’s needs and requests. Differentiators between US hotels are mainly based around amenity or obscure service offerings, though it is often not long before the competition catches up.
We had an opportunity while in Taipei to meet with the General Manager and HR Manager of the Shangri-La Far Eastern Hotel. After a great presentation around their business fundamentals and a tour of their hotel operation, I walked away with one concept mentioned by the General Manager still stuck in my head. He had mentioned that this Hong Kong based company started in Singapore and was based on providing Asian service to their guests. Asian service? Several days had past and I kept finding myself thinking about that phrase, trying to define it through the several hotel stays I had already experienced on this trip. Through this, I began to see the cultural core differences between Asia and other parts of the world with some cultural variations specifically in service amongst these countries in Asia. Key parts that stuck out to me were a genuine care and concern as if the guest and employee had known each other for years. I concluded that this may likely stem from the deep roots of Buddhism that is found throughout Asia. Interactions seemed to be shadowed with somewhat of a raw and juvenile excitement to help. It seemed much of these service industry employees were less affected by the reality and harshness of the world, even though in some instances they were living it much deeper. Though with a core similarity, it was interesting to see how the fundamentals of Asian service was woven through each of the regions we visited and how a better understanding of this service could be the new competitive edge in North America.
Below is a further look in my observations traveling through the various countries and regions.
China- Raffles Hotel, Beijing and The Sofitel, Xian
Key differences: A willingness to go to whatever length to solve the issue with a deeper desire to ensure customer was satisfied. Employees sought out opportunities to interact but with some conservatism which seemed consistent through other service experiences in the country.
Hong Kong- Crown Plaza Causeway Bay and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel
What seemed to be a western influence drove a slight more reservation and refinement then in mainland China while still having a proactive approach in assistance. Interactions seemed a little more formalized than any other regions possibly stemming from the long time British influence.
Taiwan- Pacific Business Center Hotel, Taipei
Overall a deeper excitement and willingness to go the extra length to understand the service need with follow through to ensure clear understanding of the request. There was little to no hesitation to interact and seemed less formalized
Thailand- Conrad Hotel, Bangkok
The deepest desire to go to any length for service need was found. People seemed to be the most sincere in their every interaction with greetings and conversations feeling warm.