Christmas is by far the busiest time of the year for the hospitality industry and it’s fair to say that hospitality teams are some of the unsung heroes of the festive period (Father Christmas and his elves aside, of course).
For us, planning is absolutely key for the Christmas period. We plan months in advance to ensure we are ready for the rush and make sure that working hours, as much as possible, are planned around the teams and their personal lives. We anticipate our pressure points and busiest periods so that the teams can prepare.
Part of our planning process is making sure each team in each hotel has a managerial representative who work to help to plan all aspects of Christmas and represent their teams during the overall Christmas planning process.
Appreciation is key; we recognise and reward our teams throughout the year, it’s just as important to praise and show appreciation for our hard-working colleagues who often work extra hours over December and into the new year.
We run a number of incentives to help keep everyone motivated and in the best possible spirits. We provide gifts, team parties, fun days like Christmas jumper days, premium payments for working over the festive period, extra holidays and time off in lieu. We make sure that we provide food and drinks and just generally try our best to make coming to work feel like an experience with extended family. These may all seem like simple touches, but it’s important that everyone has fun and feels valued.
It’s also vital to make sure that we recognise different cultures and religions within the hotels, as well as at our head office and ensure that they are catered for too. After all, we want our guests to have a fantastic festive experience with us and hospitality staff play an integral role in making that happen.
Helping each other out
We appreciate Christmas is all about coming together. Teams who may usually work in back offices often help out with guest service and help with more customer-facing roles. With everyone mucking in it really creates a vibrant atmosphere in the teams as well as creating additional capacity where we need it most. What’s more, we encourage charity and kindness over the festive period, which is of course what the season is all about. We have themed charity days, collect shoe boxes filled with goodies for those less fortunate, all of this helps to encourage big team spirit!
We also appreciate that teams may find it challenging to get to work over the festive period, with the limitations of public transport. Therefore, we ensure that we work with them to find a solution to this.
Social media sharing
We manage 17 hotels across the UK, from Glasgow to Plymouth and we want colleagues to not only feel connected as a hotel team, but as a wider Valor family too. With the physical distance between some of our teams being so great, technology is important for us to keep everyone connected. We create a brilliant sense of community through our social media channels. Encouraging sharing news from all of our hotels across our team-only Facebook pages ensures that everyone is in the loop and can keep in touch in a quick and fun way, as well as share targets and goals with one another.
Pride of Valor
Once the busy festive period is over for another year, our extended Valor family comes together in January to recognise our brightest stars at our annual awards ceremony, Pride of Valor. In each of the hotels, every department nominates a Team Member of the Year and the winners are recognised and rewarded in December. They then go forward to the national Pride of Valor awards where they’re up against colleagues from the length and breadth of the country for a glitzy night of dancing, awards and plenty of wine!
Overall, we want to stress to our teams that Christmas doesn’t have to be a headache in hospitality. In fact, it can be the most rewarding and exciting time of the year! Good planning, taking care of your own wellbeing and that of each other makes a great recipe for our Christmas cake!
By Moira Laird, HR director at Valor Hospitality Europe.