I have been coordinating the Eta Sigma Delta awards for the past 11 years. While serving as the ESD chapter adviser, I am proud to have inducted over 190 Les Roches Marbella students and numerous honorary members. These include a long list of distinguished professionals such as Mr. Rafael Cruz Conde, Dr. Mª Teresa Gozalo, Mr. Enrique Ciibantos, Mr. Xavier Manchón, Conde Rudi, Mr. Justo Sanchez Angulo, Mr. Skumsrud, Conde Perlac, Mr. Juan Carlos Luna, Mr. Jorge Lepe, Agustín Picazo, Mr. Rüdiger Hollweg, Mrs. Rivero Delgado, Mr. Rafael Rodriguez Camacho, Mr. John Thompson, Mr. Douglas Glen, Mr. Santiago Dominguez Miguel, and Mr. Tiago Manuel Monteiro Milheiro.
The XXI Chapter of ESD, Spring 2014, has been particularly unusual and very special as on this occasion, I had the pleasure of being the honorary member.
For this chapter there were nine students inducted as ESD officers and they are:
• Ms. Laurence Curtis, Canada
• Mr. Pedro Mª Espirito Santo de Toscano Rico, Portugal
• Ms. Laura Alessandra Facetti, Italy
• Mr. Alessandro Gotti, Italy
• Mr. Tamás Hagyo, Hungary
• Ms. Julie Le Moigne, France
• Mr. Paolo Martignago, Italy
• Ms. Martina Pokorná, Czech Republic
• Ms. Diana Zambrano, Ecuador
Eta Sigma Delta is an honorary society for hospitality management professionals that was first founded in 1978. The first ESD chapter at Les Roches Marbella was established in 2003, 11 years ago already. The society's core activity is to recognize and award students who have achieved ESD’s rigorous academic and ethical requirements. So, here we are once again with the most recent selection that now proudly represents the 21st chapter after receiving their awards and being officially sworn in as officers.
This is not an easy endeavor given that the inductees must uphold specific standards for three years leading up to their selection. First, they must maintain a grade point average of 80% or better. Secondly, they must demonstrate dedication and reliability by not exceeding 50 class absences during the same period. Thirdly, they must not be deducted more than 1 point in behaviour during at least three semesters. And finally, they are obliged to uphold the five honourable ESD characteristics of excellence, service, creativity, leadership and ethics.
For the past 11 years that I have served as ESD Chapter Adviser, I have always sat in that chair and attentively listened to each year’s honorary member speeches. However, it never crossed my mind that I would be delivering a speech as they did.
As Chapter Adviser it is my job to brief honorary members on the ceremony protocol and I have always told them that they should include the 5 previous words of honour in their speech. As an adviser It was always easy to lay down this rule, but I never realised how hard it would be for myself to deliver the true meaning of these 5 words and especially to relate them to the wonderful world of the international hospitality industry.
So on Friday, May 23rd, it was my turn to offer my very own version of these simple but powerful practices that embody a hospitality management professional. I have included them here:
Service is something that is provided without thought. Service is delivered from the heart and with every beat. Every single person, regardless of status and whether they realise it or not, provides service. It must be realised that service is judged by every receiver; be it a hotel guest, a CEO, a student, a colleague or a child. It is the very first and last opportunity to make a lasting impression.
Excellence is an ingredient that we add to service that makes it different in any industry. Service excellence is what creates that extra smile and excellence is only achievable when we strive for perfection. Although, in this highly competitive world, we need more than excellence in service, we also need to be constantly creative
Creativity is the enhancement element that we implement in every excellent service that we provide. Creativity gives you the edge and is what makes you unique. Creativity provokes curiosity and entertains; it is where concepts are born and thus creates leaders rather than followers.
Leaders must be honest and transparent. They are dedicated to their teams of professionals, and work to provide creative, excellent service every single day. Leaders provide light to others who follow them. They inject pride and confidence to others while exhibiting core moral values and the highest ethics in their behaviour
Ethics, this must be embedded in every practice and decision that has a direct and indirect impact on all. Ethical behaviour is the fundamental pillar in every individual´s values, both in their professional and personal lives. It must be remembered that ethical leaders will always do the right things and not only do things right.
In our industry the guest arrives to our hotel with a neutral expectation. According to the establishment status, this expectation is rated as being three, four, or five stars. It can be expected that the guest will always come with a neutral face and it is in our hands to change the guest’s expectation. Therefore, we have two options beginning from their neutral expectation:
1. If you do not practice the five words of honour positively every day and embed them in all of your employees/teams of professionals, in a blink of an eye you will turn that neutral face into the most unsatisfied guest that you could wish for.
2. Having said that, it is also in our power to change and to convert the most neutral and the saddest, unhappy faces into the most content satisfied guests by building our team around the simple yet powerful five words of honor.
For me the choice is very clear: strive to exceed guest expectations at all times.