In the previous issue of Job in Tourism I spoke about employment in the tourism industry and about my conviction that, besides aptitude, training is above all essential.
I also mentioned a conversation I had with Dennis Zambon, who contradicted me on this point in a resolute though friendly way, as is his habit.
I have now received a note from him with some reflections on this topic and, departing from our custom, I am publishing it in place of the editorial, being certain that our readers will find it interesting. (Antonio Caneva)
Aptitude and professionalism
by Dennis Zambon
Among the many records held by the Chinese, we can certainly count proverbs. So, let me quote the classic “if you cannot smile, do not open a shop”. Not “if you cannot order the goods, display them and sell them, do not open a shop”…
Is seems that, for thousands of years, wisdom has held it that aptitude comes first.
Leaping to our day, just to make a few examples, let’s enjoy some levity in the stifling heat of this period and let’s watch Pretty Woman and Life is Beautiful once more.
Vivian (Julia Roberts) is no doubt rich in various aptitudes but does not know how to behave at the table: a table with a very challenging mise en place and menu. Our colleague the hotel manager, Barney Thompson (Héctor Elizondo), puts aside his many managerial commitments in order to convey the appropriate notions and professionalism to his beautiful guest, with great patience and skill ( https://youtu.be/99z9qJwklBg?list=WL ).
Roberto Benigni, a great protagonist and director, undertakes to work as a waiter. His aptitude is unquestionable, but once again he lacks professional skills, and his old uncle (Giustino Durano) takes care of filling the gaps ( https://youtu.be/5Lue_a63cmI?list=WL ). We see the resulting performance in the unforgettable scene of the dinner for the VIP from Rome: ( https://youtu.be/lDorNvngZ94?list=WL ).
We have now come to the point: we select by assessing aptitudes.
Did our candidate do any temporary job during the school holidays (dog sitter, beach-attendant, waiter…)? Is he involved in voluntary work ? Does he like reading?
We try to dig into experiences and decode them, we analyse languages; during the conversation (preferable to an “interview”: personally, I have always done this type of activity in the hotel coffee shop and never in the office), we ask the most various and even outlandish questions: we will understand a great many things from the reactions and replies we receive.
It is certainly a good thing that a CV includes professional experiences, but – beware! – sometimes it happens that some negative habits have been learnt, and they are difficult to dismantle.
Therefore aptitude comes first, but training has to follow.
Training is a cost if you do not do it.
Poor quality service makes you lose the customer, and if this is emphasised in a negative web review, the cost may become devastating.
Should anybody have any doubts, I can recommend how to use fifteen minutes of your precious time: google up “united breaks guitars”.
The first step is a video on Youtube.com (over 15 million views), then, with a little patience, you will find pages and pages of case studies…
Did you feel a shiver down your spine? A good sign.
Who does not have an employee with poor training (and possibly very little aptitude)? Think twice before you raise your hands!
It may always happen that a creative and war-trained guest books in your hotel too.
Let’s seek young women and men, new co-workers, who are healthy carriers of healthy aptitudes, and let’s immediately give them all the training they need. If only they can already smile, they can open a shop.
We and the senior staff on the job must understand how nice it is to take care of the newcomers and transfer our knowledge to them. What is the fun of keeping our acquired professional skills to ourselves?
Repetita iuvant: training is a cost if you do not do it.