Add a Little Wabi-Sabi

by Susan on January 13, 2014

Hotel Junker

Here are some things I wish I knew when I started my hotel career.

If you are really young or entry-level, they are hiring you because you are cheap and seem trainable, not because they expect you to know everything.

Doing your job at all, much less well, makes you a thousand times better than at least 50% of your colleagues.  I think this probably holds true in every industry.

There is no such thing as a “sales” personality.  Selling follows a set series of steps that can be learned by anyone who is willing to try.  You don’t have to be a born salesperson to make a lot of money in sales.  But you do need to follow the steps.

You should spend as much time as you possibly can becoming friends with your clients, co-workers and superiors.  There is a lot of lip-service given to relationships in the hotel business, most of which is nonsense and consists primarily of having once gotten drunk with someone once.  But now that I run my own business, I realize what the real deal around relationships is.  If I know two vendors who do about the same quality job at a given thing, I’m going to always give the business to the person I am better friends with so I don’t have to explain myself to them at a party, and so the project will be more fun, and because I want to help my friends out.  If you are someone who wants to keep your personal life separate from your career, you will always have a harder time winning business and promotions than someone who actively socializes with the folks at work.  True story.

You really need to say something if you are being treated unfairly.  I have observed and experienced so many cases of this that went the wrong way due to the wronged party’s supposed integrity.  You know the idea – “I’m not the kind of person who tattles on my boss to her boss,” or “This will all work out as long as I keep killing myself doing a great job.”  Neither one of these things is ever going to get you the desired result of clearing the way for you to do a great job.

When you meet with the regional team, always put a little wabi-sabi into your plan.  Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic ideal of imperfect beauty.  In a marketing plan, this means making sure that you have left out one obvious point, or made one small but important calculation error, or otherwise included something for the powers-that-be to comment on and correct.  If you don’t give them some low-hanging fruit to pick, they will start burrowing into the numbers and making crap up to justify their existence.  Or, if business is good, they will focus on soft skills that have no bearing on your hotel’s success.

What am I missing?  What do you wish you had known in the early days of your hotel career?


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