How can hoteliers achieve success and motivate their staff in such a highly competitive environment? Leading industry figures discussed potential ways and means at Passugg hospitality management school.

Klaus Kobjoll, General Manager of the Hotel Schindlerhof in Nuremberg and a highly regarded speaker, mover and shaker, is a passionate believer in inspiring guests and staff alike. On February 5, 2016, students at the SSTH were given the opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the prominent hotelier’s novel approach. Over 40 other hotel professionals and managers joined the audience in Passugg to learn why Kobjoll claims an individual approach will always beat the cleverest of strategies hands down. His belief is that customers need inspiring with new experiences and emotions. At the Schindlerhof, he constantly looks for new personal touches to surprise and amaze his guests. His top priority is cordiality, and he firmly believes this approach reaps more rewards than adhering to standardized service structures. His motto is “Be different – or die”, but he’s well aware that this calls for the full support of his team. After all, it takes enthusiastic staff to deliver high-quality service.

His co-speaker, Urs Kienberger from the Hotel Waldhaus in Sils-Maria, advocates going the extra mile. He considers the key to be knowing your guests and fulfilling every wish – even those they aren’t always aware of themselves. However much focus is placed on the customer, though, you have to stay true to your own ideals, go with your instincts and try out unorthodox, even off-beat approaches and ideas. One thing the two agree on for sure is the need to keep trying things out and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

The speakers’ ideas were hotly debated by the hoteliers, managers and students and then given a good going-over during the panel discussion. Melanie Salis, Head of Programs at Radio South-East Switzerland, Thomas Kulcsár, the Department Head of Hospitality Psychiatric Services in Graubünden, and Pascal Jenny, Director of Tourism at Arosa, joined Kobjoll and Kienberger on stage for the open session. The audience certainly made the most of the chance to debate and consult with the industry’s top shots. “I could hardly keep up with the barrage of inspiring ideas,” one participant commented about trying to take notes. The general consensus was that customer satisfaction is not enough these days to score extra points. The aim must be to add a personal touch that customers will really notice and appreciate. By surprising them this way and making your mark, they will spread the word of their own accord, thus promoting your service with the best possible form of advertising. “Enthusiasm can always be passed on – in fact, it’s highly contagious!” were Kobjoll’s closing words.

The program and panel discussion were hosted by SSTH lecturer and business trainer Stefan Klöckl. The fantastic response to the event means it will certainly be repeated next year and be planned, organized and run once again by a team of students from Passugg hospitality school.

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