Interview with Robert Gasser, GM at Courtyard by Marriott Belgrade City Center

ROBERT GASSER

This year’s Best Stay conference will be focused on the best hospitality trends that work in practice. What are the current trends you see happening?

In general, I do believe that “make it your own” in any regards, such as using private devices in guest rooms, as they use in their own home is one of the key features which differentiate hotels now and in the future. In addition, mobile flexibility and mobile enhancements in the pre-arrival, arrival and post-arrival stage is getting more important to the customer, to have all stages tailor-made to each individual need. In food and beverage, the trend remains the same. Authentic and recognisable, local quality ingredients and crafted food and beverage offers are still what guests are looking for. Organic and health concerned offers will continuously be on the rise.


What,  in your opinion, do guests really want?

Individual service based on their personal needs. Everything in the world remains at your fingertips. The same is expected by guests in the hospitality future; to deliver and serve this expectation. This also applies to the way of communicating. Guests now want to be contacted and have all the necessary information available via a chat application. Marriott is delivering this with our chat function within the Marriott app. It is not a new expectation anymore, actually, it is an existing expectation, same happened some years ago when we moved from old bulk TV’s to flat screens. This implementation in hotels arrived when flat screens were already a normal household feature and didn’t have the effect on a Service uplift for guests, willing to pay more because of that. With smart TV’s and mobility, it appears to be a similar trend and situation.

 

There is significant talk lately about the lack of qualified staff in the region. Do you at your hotel come face to face with the same problem? If yes, how do you deal with it?

I think everybody in the Hotel industry around the world is facing the issues of having not enough qualified associates. This trend is concerning by all means. I personally think it has different reasons. Salary, work and life balance and the obligation to work hard especially in the first years. Also, one part is due to the generations mind change rather going to university, even as an average student, then starting a professional education. But looking at our region currently in my opinion the biggest lack is on a proper education system including the dual system, which allows young people, who have no interest or talent to study to transfer from school to a professional education system with a final degree. This is not only important for those young people, it is also an opportunity for the government to do something active and effective against youth unemployment. As Hotel chain we are well-known as education chain which offers many on property educational opportunities and traineeships. Our current associates have experience that and appreciate it a lot. We have retained 50% of our associates since the opening day.

 

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Best Stay?

Best Stay is the best professional Industry conference that the region has to offer. It connects professionals with the same issues and opportunities and gives everybody the chance to learn from each other’s experience. This, and all the panels and workshop, I am looking forward to the most. And it is for me a great honour to be part of the conference programme.

 

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