HotelNews Middle East - - Contents -

I be­lieve that real ex­per­tise is linked to hu­man be­hav­iour. For ex­am­ple a friendly and in­tu­itive at­ti­tude out­weighs skill. I mean it’s no good hav­ing a su­per barista if he or she is mis­er­able.

Some­one who smiles and gen­uinely tries to help is far bet­ter than some­one with great knowl­edge but who barely acknowledges their guests, and only does the min­i­mum to please. The ex­per­tise el­e­ment in play here is the abil­ity to be able to read and un­der­stand the guests’ needs, and de­liver a WOW ex­pe­ri­ence with­out be­ing prompted or given clues. A real hos­pi­tal­ity ex­pert will un­der­stand what the guests’ re­quire­ments are, even if the guests them­selves are not too sure.

Ex­per­tise or to be more spe­cific, experts in hos­pi­tal­ity, who are they? What do they sig­nify to the brand and the con­sumer?

There are a lot of buzzwords float­ing around ho­tels: Spe­cial­ists, Gu­rus and Cham­pi­ons. At Anan­tara we have Gu­rus, that are specif­i­cally cho­sen for their un­der­stand­ing of a pre­cise skill. Nev­er­the­less, at­tain­ing this skill is not enough, we also look for at­ti­tude, en­ergy and a will­ing­ness to mas­ter the role be­yond our ri­vals and the in­dus­try norms.

One of our Gu­rus that has stood out in terms of pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm, is some­one whose role I cre­ated es­pe­cially for Anan­tara Al Ja­bal Al Akhdar Re­sort. His name is Mahir and he is our Moun­tain Guru. When we in­ter­viewed him, we saw a raw tal­ent for ex­press­ing himi self and telling sto­ries about the moun­tain and lo­cal cul­ture. We all in­stantly knew he would be a huge suc­cess, in­deed Mahir is our most praised team mem­bers across all review plat­forms.

In the sub­ject ti­tle, you will have seen I wrote about bend­ing it like Beck­ham. I think ex­per­tise is very much con­nected to prac­tice and the will­ing­ness to keep on learn­ing and evolv­ing one’s craft. Amer­i­can mo­ti­va­tional speaker, writer and con­sul­tant De­nis Wait­ley says, “Never be­come so much of an ex­pert that you stop gain­ing ex­per­tise. View life as a con­tin­u­ous learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence”.

No one would ar­gue that David Beck­ham was not one of the best free kick spe­cial­ists in the his­tory of foot­ball. So much so that a film was even named af­ter this phrase, “Bend it like Beck­ham”. What many of you may not know, is that David spent count­less hours af­ter team prac­tice on his own, curl­ing hun­dreds of balls around a wooden wall of men, to per­fect and hone in on his skill. Yes he had a nat­u­ral tal­ent, none­the­less, this did not de­ter him from tire­lessly try­ing to get bet­ter each and ev­ery day. Also a good les­son here is to never be com­pla­cent, if you do, you can rest as­sured that an­other ho­tel or “foot­baller” will soon evolve faster and bet­ter than you.

I have my own lit­tle story to share here. At the ripe old age of 43, I em­barked on my most chal­leng­ing life ex­pe­ri­ence. I de­cided to com­plete my MBA with renowned Swiss School Glion. Was crazy? Per­haps, yet I re­ally wanted to see if, a) I could do it, and, b) to ac­quire the best aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, which in turn, I felt would en­hance my over­all ex­per­tise.

The jour­ney was ex­haust­ing, with end­less hours of re­search and writ­ing as­sign­ments in the evenings, in ad­di­tion to com­plex as­sign­ments at the week­ends. This en­deav­our took three very long years, whilst at the same time, open­ing and op­er­at­ing a ho­tel. Nev­er­the­less, I do not re­gret it for one minute. The learn­ing I ac­quired along­side my cur­rent ex­pe­ri­ence, cer­tainly brought my over­all ex­per­tise to a whole new level, not to men­tion a resur­gence in my self-con­fi­dence.

By the same to­ken I would also con­cur that ex­per­tise is gained from ex­pe­ri­ence. Ac­cord­ing to Daniel Ka­he­man, “True in­tu­itive ex­per­tise is learned from pro­longed ex­pe­ri­ence”. We have to be pa­tient, learn along the way, and at the same time have a keen sense of self-de­vel­op­ment and self­p­reser­va­tion. We do not stand still and wait, to be the best is to drive our­selves, to per­fect our area of ex­per­tise to reach new heights week in week out.

Fi­nally and to sum­marise, ex­per­tise is crit­i­cally im­por­tant to the suc­cess of lux­ury ho­tels, the com­pe­ti­tion is far stiffer nowa­days, and there­fore we re­ally need to stand out, giv­ing our pa­trons an ex­pe­ri­ence that will last in their sub­con­scious for a very long time.

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