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The 4 C's of Hospitality Skills (and how to acquire them)

The 4 C's of Hospitality Skills (and how to acquire them) inploi Team | 02.09.2016

Whether you're building a career in the hospitality sector, or working in the industry on a part-time basis, developing relevant skills is an important element of a successful career. A commitment to continuous professional and personal development will set you up for success: a willingness to learn is an important first step to change and improvement. Due to people's differing personalities and experiences particular skills are more easily acquired by some than others. However, through knowledge and practice, anything can be achieved! This article will help you with the knowledge element - explaining not only which skills you'll need, but also how you might acquire them.

Communication skills

Some hospitality jobs require more customer interaction than others, but effective communication skills are important for relationships with customers, and with members of your team. Great communication skills include being good at speaking and listening [1]. When you deal with customers regularly effective communication skills will ensure that customers feel valued, will be at ease to share their requirements, and their expectations will be clear. In terms of a team environment, communication skills will ensure synergy between yourself and other workers in the same organisational unit.

An important part of being a successful communicator is managing your feelings and emotions, and being calm and collected (more about this later). Communication skills don't necessarily mean being a good public speaker. Although these skills can be acquired and will advance your career, development of your communication skills should be rooted in a few basic principles like being sincere, friendly and polite. Don't make assumptions, be antagonistic or take things personally. Expect the best in people, and you'll be surprised how much goodwill this generate between you and the other person. There are ways to fine-tune your communication skills - through learning positive body language, negotiation skills, and presenting. The University of Kent Careers and Employability Service explains this in a great guide on communication skills. But as a start - focus on the basic principles of good communication skills - and you might even notice that the rest all falls into place!

Cultural awareness

Cultural awareness is an essential skill. The UK tourism industry continues to grow, with millions of foreign travellers visiting Britain each year, and, furthermore, a large percentage of hospitality workers are migrants. This is therefore important from both a customer and team perspective. Cultivating cultural awareness is in the first instance "the right thing to do" as it ties into (1) respecting people regardless of cultural background and (2) challenging prejudices. However, also being aware of the benefits of cultural diversity in hospitality, and perceiving it as an opportunity for personal and organisational growth, will make it easier to relate to people and respect diversity.  

Yukari Iguchi (Academic Lead, Hospitality and Leisure at the University of Derby Online Learning) in an article on the Benefits of cultural diversity in hospitality lists team effectiveness, a positive organisational culture and retaining talent among its benefits. With regards to team effectiveness Yukari mentions that the benefits of diversity management may include improved creativity, innovation, problem solving and decision making.

'Calming presence'

A calming presence is about being "comfortable in your own skin". This will automatically lead to more patience, an incredibly important attribute, especially in dealing with difficult customers! A calming presence will allow people to easily communicate with you. There are various ways to achieve this. Tying into the idea of communication skills, a calming presence will be cultivated by good listening skills. Don't preempt a response...listen first, and the words will come. If they don’t come immediately, be comfortable with the bit of silence. There’s no hurry! Another daily practice that you can build into your routine is mindfulness. Basically just being more aware or 'in-tune' with your surroundings will ensure that you are able to 'read' situations better, and are more prepared to respond in an appropriate, measured manner. Your presence will be more inviting of good and fluent conversation, and the risk for misunderstandings will be greatly diminished.

Customer service

Although you will not always be working with customers directly, every aspect of the hospitality customer's journey is important. Travellers expect world-class service from start to finish...In a hotel's case, that will include the journey from booking, payment, reception and even the quality and timeliness of the laundry. Remember therefore that as a team you're all dependent on one another to create an exceptional customer service experience. With the power of online reviews customer service is increasingly spoken about, and therefore, important. A negative review on Tripadvisor or a similar site can be particularly damaging to an establishment's reputation. So although customer service is about doing the right thing, it is important to think of the need to protect the reputation of your employer. If you work to develop the first of the 3 C'S you'll be well on your way to creating a great customer experience. A further, yet integral part of delivering exceptional customer service is being knowledgeable about your job: know about your service offering, or if you're offering a niche service (such as being a chef or barista), ensure that you have the necessary training and are up-to-date about trends in your industry. If you're working with customers over the phone and/or via e-mail, the dynamic is a little different, but the correct etiquette is very important. For more on phone and e-mail etiquette, click here for a short and impactful presentation about the topic.

We hope that the 4 C's will be helpful to you and easy to remember as you work in the industry. We have also developed an Ultimate Career Guide for Hospitality Students in the UK which you may find useful.

Click here for an introduction and to download the complete resource. If you're looking for a job in this sector, feel free to download there inploi app here and apply to jobs with your virtual inploi resume.

About the author: Malan Jacobs is Communications Manager of inploi.

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