With the hospitality industry being notorious for high staff turnover and employers finding it difficult to find people with the right skills, tips from Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group runs 11 restaurants in New York, may come as some use for those wanting to recruit and retain the right people.
Speaking at the Master Innholders General Managers Conference on Monday, Meyer said finding people with what his company has dubbed a high Hospitality Quotient (HQ) was essential for restaurateurs and hoteliers who wanted to be successful and secure repeat visits from customers.
“We have changed dramatically, we have become an industry that does something that not only people need but we are very powerful in terms of creating a feeling that people crave,” he said.
“No-one comes to our restaurants because they are hungry and have to eat, they come for a human experience and social interaction, so if you are going to succeed in our industry you have to surround yourself with people with a high HQ”
The idea behind HQ works on the fact that every restaurant or hotel should be scoring 100 with customers to enable it to become their favourite, which in turn leads to repeat visits and recommendations.
However, Meyer believes that to score 100, a business needs to consider two things - a person's technical and emotional skills.
“We worked out that the most points you can get from getting things technically right is 49, the other 51 points come under the heading hospitality,” he said.
“Hospitality has nothing to do with how well you do, it’s to do with people feeling that you are on their side.
“You have to master the technical side of things first, but you also have to find people with a high HQ too.”
People with a HQ according to Meyer are:
- Kind – they are people who care about others
- Curious – they look at each day as a new opportunity to learn something new
- Have strong work ethics – they care how they do in their job
- Highly empathetic – it matters to them how other people feel
- Self aware – they are aware of how they feel and how to know how to deal with that
- Have integrity – someone who does the right thing when faced with a moral choice
"If you get these things right who is going to compete with you?" asked Meyer. "We believe our roast chicken is a great recipe, but it tastes better if it is served with all those things in a person.
"The best people at hospitality are the best observers of human beings and will value them whatever they want."
Meyer was invited to talk to hoteliers for at the 19th Annual General Managers' Conference at the London Hilton on Park Lane on Monday. Entitled Going for Gold, the conference hosted by the Master Innholders included speeches from a range of industry experts like the British Hospitality Association's Ufi Ibrahim and Martin Couchman; Peter Lederer and a special appearance from Lord Sebastian Coe.