Whilst working in the wider hospitality industry, we are still somewhat insulated, living within our own specific day to day bubble, and can find ourselves open therefore, to personal feelings of others and how these reflect on to us. If you care as much as I do for the industry as a whole, the company I represent and the clients who entrust their events to me, there can be a tendency to become extremely defensive if any of these are challenged.
I have spoken in previous blogs about the perception of others, and how hearsay is both annoying and difficult to counter – with some clients feeling that however vague a comment may have been, made by someone who was nowhere near the event itself – or worse, a guest who complains about something “chosen for them” by the host of the event they have been invited to…..is then a bargaining tool as part of their own negotiations, and a reason to offer some kind of reduction for their event. This type of behaviour is really frustrating, and for anyone who has worked so hard to build a solid foundation and reputation for their business, a little insulting.
So how to counter, or address, your personal style, how this reflects on to your business – the managing of style within a more defined framework – and that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you are hearing words that simply don’t “play fair”….
Personal style is just that. There are times when I wish I worked on my own, the opportunity to define that style that would become synonymous with my events, and at the same time creating a solid reputation amongst clientele for that “X factor” aspect (sorry!) that sets me apart. I however have the opportunity to address that (I will get there in a moment). In the meantime, your work ethic, coupled with that style is exactly the ingredient that will make clients want to work with you. If they believe in you, they will open themselves up to your ideas and how they can work as part of their event. That said, those ideas arent for everyone, and the same goes for the clients themselves. finding the balance between those that love you, and those that turn their noses up is difficult, but not something that you can take personally (how many times have you heard that a client you lost was a complete nightmare for the person they finally did work with?).
I am lucky, within the specific framework of a hotel, the freedom is there to be creative. In fact, in some ways it is even better than working alone. There is a support network around you, and a daily opportunity to smash the perception of what it means to hold an event within a more rigid hotel space. Next year especially, is going to provide a one off opportunity to work with certain companies whose modern creative flair will mix with over a hundred years of hotel history, to create a one off series of events for 5000 people – that will showcase so many different aspects of….well, everything. In the meantime, if you live in that creative bubble, how you adapt to your surroundings becomes part of the day to day work we do, and as such, dealing with those people who don’t have that same vision can be difficult, but something we have to manage.
I have learnt over the years, when having to deal with complaints (wider blog post on this topic to follow) that in my head weren’t really complaints at all, more moans and groans…. that everyone needs to be treated with an obvious respect. How one person may see something, is different to how we view it within our bubble, but many a client has returned after their rant because of how their comments were dealt with, over those you try to brush off with basic “copy and paste” rhetoric.
Maybe the best advise, is to perfect the smile……I always remember a line from the film The Assassin, with Brigit Fonda….a take on the classic Nikita. Anyway, she is taught, when all hell is breaking loose around her, and she seems up against an insurmountable challenge….to just smile and say; “I never did mind about the little things…..”