Improving and maintaining service standards in Australia is a constant industry challenge. SpiceNews speaks to Ilona Vass, business lecturer at the International College of Management Sydney, about how we address this ongoing issue.
How does the hospitality industry improve service standards to a level that delights Australians?
Referring to the latest Domesticate study of TNS*, a significant number of Australians believe that service standards in hospitality are not as good as they should be, or indeed they could be. There is much to do in the domestic market regarding quality and a fair relation between price and service.
Work integrated learning is a well-practised component of the International College of Management (ICMS) hospitality program (as well as all ICMS programs), with a mandatory nine months of industry training where students immerse in the industry at an early stage, before graduation. It is the perfect opportunity to instil outstanding service practises into students.
Industry training or internships placed amongst the college’s valued industry partners expose students to modern realities (outside of a textbook). On the flipside, the company finds innovative fresh approaches to solving challenges, new energy within a team, helping with workloads, and often very enthusiastic hands on deck in a tightly run business within today’s economic pressures.
It is imperative that sponsored scholarships are offered regularly to reward the most outstanding students. Investing in the leaders of the future through funding a partial amount of a top performing student through a rigorous selection process, is one guaranteed way of improving the quality of the hospitality industry.
When industry partners sponsor a professional scholarship the benefits for the student and company are manifold.
With the current pressures on margin, cost cutting is a key priority. How then can the industry raise service standards?
It is about having the right people in the right jobs. Let’s take the analogy of a magnifying glass in sunlight: when you move it around a large area you warm the area without creating serious heat. When you focus on a single point, you can create fire. Focussing attention and energy on the most talented individuals through scholarships, will eventually mean the right people in the right jobs are leading the industry to the right future. In turn we create real positive change in our industry.
A sponsored scholar becomes an ambassador for the sponsor company, someone who holds the same ‘high service standard’ will influence so many people over the years to come in their career. At ICMS sponsored scholarships are offered term by term ensuring a stable stream of talent is filtering its way into the industry, and most importantly providing opportunity for these promising young people.
Creating awareness around service standards can be done in many ways, for example, engage as guest speaker and bring the experience of the industry into the classroom. This will give the company access to students, brand awareness and other benefits including adding to the valuable education of the up and coming teams. This can also be an ideal forum to deliver ‘state of the art’ developments in the hospitality industry to the future talent.
Only consistent field work, fostering engaged students and bringing latest trends to education can create the customer focus and connection we all desire. This thorough grounding provides the basis for achieving the service standards that will delight Australians. Customer centricity is not based around how to manage the customer, but to deeply understand them.