Is the Art of Etiquette lost?

Monica Or, columnist and Hospitality Consultant at Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy discusses how we need to go back to the basics to deliver great service..

In this day and age of social media I meet more and more people who have either lost the art of etiquette or have no idea what it is in the first place. They spend more time engaging with their mobile phone than they do with the person standing right infront of them.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines etiquette as ‘the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group’.

The etiquette manuals of days gone by could be looked upon as success manuals. Author Steven Pinker states that they taught knights and nobles of how to conduct themselves in the court of the king, which is where the terms ‘courtly’ and ‘courtesy’ arose from.

The rules of etiquette apply in the workplace as they do in everyday societal interactions. In the hospitality industry it should be a given that every employee understands them and abides by them, it is all part of being professional and form the basics of being able to deliver great service.

When I go in to an establishments and note that service is lacking, inconsistent or not up to standard, it usually comes down to these basic etiquette rules being broken:

– Being on time, actually means arriving early – Walking through the staff entrance on the dot of when your shift starts means you are now late. Being late for your shift causes all sorts of problems in your department. You have disrupted the workflow, your colleague cannot leave until you arrive and they have handed over to you, and they too may have plans which they would like to honour.

– Chew food with your mouth closed – When on duty there should be no need for you to be eating in public. This includes having chewing gum. The gnawing motion can be quite unpleasant and not a welcoming sight for your guests.

– Greeting, opening doors, offering to carry luggage – Saying ‘Good Morning or Good Afternoon’, holding open the door for your guest and letting them pass through first, and offering to carry luggage is all part of being hospitable.

– Initiating a conversation – as the host or hospitality professional on duty, it is your role to strike up a conversation with your guest and not wait for them to approach you.

– Avoid using your mobile phone when in the company of others – When with others you should give them your full attention whilst you have them face to face rather than being pre-occupied replying to text messages. When on duty there should no need to use your personal mobile phone.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The rules of etiquette are changing as time goes on. One thing that underlies all of these principles is that it comes down to thinking about other people’s feelings first.

When was the last time you had an interaction with someone and you thought, how refreshing to meet someone who is polite, professional and they left you with a lasting impression that made you smile?

About Monica Or: As the founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy, Monica specialises in working operationally with the owner/managers of independent hotels and restaurants focusing on their business structure and service delivery. She is the Amazon Best Selling author of ‘Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business’ and ‘Star Quality Experience – The Hotelier’s Guide to Creating Memorable Guest Journeys’.

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