A well-managed service is self marketing.
Students at New York City College of Technology – Hospitality Management Program enrolled in this course (4702 – Services Management & Marketing) will complete several individual and group assignments that span from restaurants to hotels.
If you are a student in this class, “Please create your first post for this class (after you join the page as a member).”
Our first assignment focuses on the creation of a new dish for an existing restaurant, typically a causal or fast casual establishment (example). A key goal of the assignment is establishing a clear business objective for offering this dish.
Our second assignment will focus on the creation of a seasonal signature dish for a NY Times-reviewed restaurant (with 1 or more stars), a website, and an online menu. A key goal of the assignment is introducing a new service element or servicescape element that enhances the dish, the restaurant, and the experience of the guests who order the dish (and those around them).
A service element is any artifact that is used during service within a restaurant. Consider a service element to include tangible items such as utensils, plates/bowls, glasses, serving dishes/trays, or place settings. It can incorporate any stimuli that is part of the servicescape. A classic example is a server bringing a covered dish to the table and removing the cover to reveal the dish in front of the diner. A modern example is removing the cover to release a scent, smoke, or aroma.
Service Element vs. Servicescape Element
Service elements are generally an artifact (plate, fork, or vase) or a functional element (a hardwood BBQ built into a table). Since service often includes servers/waiters, food runners, etc., a service element may include one or more members of staff. Classic examples include when several waiters simultaneously place all of the food in front of the guests or French or Russian cart service where food is prepared table side. Another example is a personal artifact: an Italian chef who serves her signature pasta dish by personally coming to the table and offering guests grated cheese from her great-grandparents’ cheese grater.
Service Product Characteristics
While a major characteristic of a service product is intangibility, some services often have tangible components: beds in a hotel, burgers in a restaurant. For many of these assignment we are going to design a new “product” for a food service business. The product has to fit into the brand / brand image and enhance the service.
The Final Assignment
The final blogging assignment is focused on students creating individual concepts for a new hotel design incorporating and drawing upon the course material. Specifically, the students are asked to synthesize the core ideas within Bitner’s (1992) Servicescaping and Heskett, et. al.’s (1994 & 2008) Service Profit Chain (SPC) into the design of a hotel concept and the services that will be offered within that concept.
While the concept should be appealing on paper, a major objective is that students will be assessed in their ability to synthesize a concept that is not only appealing on a day-to-day basis to customers but provides a work environment that nurtures and fosters an effective implementation of the Service Profit Chain (SPC) and a fantastic servicescape that fosters supportive and effective staff & customer interactions. If students are successful in their synthesis, an implicit but measurable outcome will be a hotel which can be marketed easier and with less friction–effectively a self-marketing hotel which gains brand awareness & custom through the now well-understood processes coined as “Inbound Marketing” in 2009 by Shah (@dharmesh) & Halligan (@bhalligan).
Ethically Sustainable Hotel Concepts
Students who expertly craft new hotel concepts will not only find that their concepts “self market” but also that their concepts are ethically sustainable. It may be easy to envisage an hotel concept that maximizes short-term profit by the ill or poor treatment of staff & customers. It seems harder to envisage a hotel concept where the professional and appropriate treatment and empowerment of staff fosters the best possible treatment of guests and thereby enhances sustainable profit, but this is at the core of the SPC and is implicit within a well-constructed servicescape. Students will be assessed on their ability to see how their concepts lead to sustainable profits and the ethical treatment of staff and guests (as well as the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet).
Ethics & Hospitality
There are many ethical issues within any field that involves commerce. It is well understood that transactions should be conducted fairly and without fraud. Heskett’s SPC (1994 & 2008) makes clear that to create a staff that treats guests/customers properly and to fully deliver excellence in service to these guests requires treating staff well and maintaining that staff are well cared for. This in turn gains repeated custom from these guests. Bitner (1992) focuses on environmental aspects that moderate behavior through avoidance and approach — if we want those behaviors to be sustainable, they must also be ethical.
Cathy N. Davidson (2014) points out that the underpinning of our education system from 1840 through today has been to create workers and managers for factories — workers and managers who are simply ever-configurable, reconfigurable ,and replaceable “cogs in a machine” that is the modern enterprise.
In the film Modern Times (1936) we see the frustration of Chaplin’s Little Tramp servicing the needs of the machine; that is analogous to hotel staff serving the needs of the guests when they themselves are not well cared for, respected, or empowered. Through that lens, we can see that the SPC is ultimately a guide to maximizing sustainable profit through an ethical path that insures satisfied guests grant repeated custom to yield (for the business) ever-increasing lifetime value (LTV); that path is the ethical treatment of staff. The SPC can be viewed as a simple and practical “field manual” for the ethical treatment of staff and guests.