1st Apr 2014

The hospitality industry is unique in many ways, but two of the most obvious are its total focus on customer service and experience and its secrecy. These two facets are deeply related: The hotel experience is supposed to be one of smooth supply to any guest demand, and any conflicts between the various systems of a hotel must be hidden from the guests. If your air conditioning isn’t working in your room, you don’t want to hear about the disputes between the facilities workers and management – you just want the issue resolved, quickly and easily.

A Department of Mediation

Considering how many moving parts go into the smooth operation of a hotel or resort, it’s surprising that hotels don’t have a set mechanism for resolving inter-departmental disputes. Hierarchies develop naturally in any human endeavor, so it’s not surprising that housekeeping might develop an adversarial attitude towards management, or that different departments might develop proprietary attitudes towards certain services and resent any perceived intrusion from another department.

And considering how vital secrecy is when it comes to shielding these disputes from guests, an official department of mediation would make perfect sense, whether with a dedicated mediation professional on staff to help resolve disputes before they spill out into the lobby, or by training managers and other staff in mediation and appointing them as liaisons for inter-staff disputes. By giving staff a channel for their resentments and concerns, the hotel or resort can maintain the smooth-running facade for guests who may never know how much trouble stirs around them.

Redesigning the Engine

Another possible outcome of establishing a mediation department in hotels would be general improvement of the service offered to guests. This could result from the mediated exchange of ideas and complaints that could better expose overlapping services and redundancies, leading to a better overall experience for guests as the efficiency of the background operations are increased.  Mediation isn’t solely about resolving acute disputes – it can often lead to bigger conversations about the underlying conflicts that lead to staff disputes over and over again. The end result is a slow, steady improvement of the service offered to and perceived by guests.

Mediation in hotel environments is a time that’s come – cheaper than staff labor actions, lawsuits, and dealing with dissatisfied guests with comps and other costly premiums in response to poor service and other issues.

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