American industrialist Henry Ford once said that ‘quality is doing it right when no one is looking’, writes Donald Macdonald, executive chairman of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.
In an industry such as ours, the word quality can and should be used in all corners of the business – from the quality of the furnishings in a room and the quality of a meal, to the quality of the service that accompanies the product. Quality should exist in the most obvious and most unobvious places.
Obvious places may include areas such as industry accreditations and accolades, and we are very proud to have received a variety of these on an individual hotel basis and as a group, including being a former AA Hotel Group of the Year winner on two occasions six years apart, and a past AA Eco-Hotel Group of the Year – an exercise which we continue to develop daily.
Since the interpretation and deployment of quality comes in myriad forms, it is important that it is benchmarked, checked and improved using a similarly diverse range of methods. Central to these should be internal programmes which give us reason to examine ourselves and celebrate our successes on an ongoing basis, thus leading to an innate ethos of the importance of delivering quality. Even when we think no one is looking, we should always be looking at ourselves and striving for better.
In creating and delivering quality, however, there remains one constant feature which is central to it all and that is people.
It is for this reason that we introduced our company awards scheme to bring together and celebrate quality, using the occasion of our annual conference to share knowledge and best practice with colleagues.
The awards were introduced to recognise outstanding achievement in each area of the business, acknowledging exceptional effort and best practice in our hotels. The aim is to reward and recognise people – leaders and teams alike – for their commitment to delivering an enjoyable and memorable experience for guests and employees. At this year’s awards, Macdonald Drumossie Hotel in Inverness won the coveted Hotel of the Year award out of 54 properties.
For any forward-thinking organisation, ensuring the consistent delivery of quality across the board means attracting a steady stream of good people into the industry. It is for this reason that we are actively involved in making sure that the next generation is getting ready, and we are working on various ways to help open the door to the world of hospitality and beyond.
As part of our range of initiatives to encourage quality people into the industry, we have sharpened our focus on graduate training opportunities and have recently stepped up our long-standing training and career development focus, guiding graduates as they take their first steps on the hospitality career ladder.
During their 18-month training, candidates are matched to locations where they will gain mentored, hands-on experience across all areas of the business, regularly coming together as a group for additional learning and knowledge-sharing opportunities.
Additionally, junior managers can and have been developed from people who come to us with no qualifications at all and complete a four-year period of training. But as well as having no ceiling, opportunities are not confined and entry to jobs such as golf professionals, greenkeepers, high-quality retail, agronomy, leisure, spa, wellbeing and childcare specialists also exists – there is a lot more to hospitality than accommodating and feeding people after all.
In essence, the foundation of the service industry is good quality people and strong leadership, and that’s what we have and have been privileged to have within in all parts of the business.