Customer Experience Scholarship
Caroline Franceschi, Front of House Manager, The Dunstane Houses
I applied for the HIT customer experience scholarship in 2016 to gain further insight into Scottish hospitality, after moving to Edinburgh in May 2014 and beginning work at The Dunstane Hotel. I had an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management from South Africa where I had worked in a number of different establishments, but felt I still had so much to discover! I wanted to see other establishments’ customer service delivery and procedures, and I believe that we should seize every opportunity we are given to gain new knowledge and meet new people especially within the industry. Hospitality and tourism is constantly evolving and it is so important to keep up with current trends and create a memorable and unique customer experience.
I love my job and it is incredibly rewarding knowing that you have made a guest's holiday more enjoyable by recommending one or many of Edinburgh's places of interests, booking a memorable tour for them, recommending a great bottle of wine to complement a delicious meal or by simply being friendly, it makes it very worthwhile and that is why I chose this industry! I have a passion for hospitality and, although I am not from Scotland, I am delighted to be an ambassador for Scottish hospitality.
Ensuring that consistently good levels of service are maintained is the key to having a respectable reputation within the hospitality industry and the challenge is to discover new ways of achieving these service levels. As Front of House Manager, I wanted to experience new customer ideas that I could learn and use in my workplace, and also find new ways to help with my own coaching skills so that I could share information and motivate my team.
To be honest, I did have quite high expectations for the scholarship as HIT Scotland is so highly regarded, and it not only met these expectations but also exceeded them! I thought that the training from brand Virgin would be a classroom style setup but it was far from it, and the interactive approach gave me new ideas for training our team.
Everything at Gleneagles was so efficient and well organised, the staff were all very friendly and accommodating and the rooms were magnificent. We were made to feel so welcome and everyone took time out of their busy schedules to answer all our questions and show us around. Experiencing these 5 star standards was a fantastic learning experience in itself.
But the highlight of the experience for me was definitely dining in Andrew Fairlie’s 2 michelin star restaurant – the whole experience was exceptional and it was inspiring to see the passion which all of his team have for the restaurant. I was absolutely blown away!
Dale Dewsbury, Restaurant Manager at Andrew Fairlie, said something which really hit it on the head for me – “Service is for the guest’s enjoyment, not for our convenience!” I always say and believe that excellence is not achieved by accident, it requires sincere effort, good intention and a vision to succeed. Establishments need to value both their staff and guests who are both key to their success. If you don’t have the passion for a job in hospitality then it will show in the service you provide.
A few months after this scholarship, my hotel underwent a very exciting refurbishment and renamed as The Dunstane Houses, and being front of house I wanted to ensure that both our regular guests and our new guests were given 5 star service, and the scholarship gave me some innovative ideas for achieving this.
Brand Virgin and Dale gave me insight in to how to coach and train my staff members and keep them motivated, which was very useful with all the changes that the refurb brought.
If you follow your passion, success will follow you! Happiness is the secret ingredient and I strongly believe that it is of vital importance to love what you do and do what you love and inspire colleagues and team members to do the same. Hotel employees can have a huge influence on a guest's stay and if I, together with my fellow team members, can create a memorable experience and exceed guests' expectations then I believe that we are succeeding in the most important area of hospitality and that is guest satisfaction.
The customer experience scholarship has been a great learning experience for me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else looking to learn about great customer standards, and get motivated to make their own workplace the best it can be.
Find out more about how to apply for a HIT Scholarship here