Luxury Hospitality: Creating 7-Star Teams
When it comes to standing out among today’s superyacht fleet, it’s no longer enough to simply be the largest or the shiniest yacht on the market. The yachting industry is changing, and with a growing number of vessels competing for charters, captains and owners must shift their focus to providing the ultimate guest experience, with technical hospitality knowledge and leadership skills more essential than ever.
That’s where Luxury Hospitality (LH) comes in. As the leaders in interior and hospitality training for superyacht crew and staff working in elite domestic estates, boutique hotels and resorts around the world, LH trains interior teams to deliver the ultimate in 7-star service. Renowned in the industry for its unique and personal approach to team building, LH prides itself in equipping graduates to meet and exceed the wishes of some of the world’s most discerning clientele.
LH was founded by Peter Vogel following a career spanning over 20 years on board, during which time he set up and managed some of the world’s most impressive superyachts, including MY Octopus, MY Lady Moura and MY Tatoosh. Realising that no-one was yet offering a service focused on the guest experience, LH was born in 2009.
Describing LH as “a collaboration of like-minded people who focus on assisting everyone they work with to become the best version of themselves”, Peter works alongside his right-hand man, operations manager Erik Smit, who previously managed several high profile Michelin-starred restaurants before joining the Luxury Hospitality team. Together, they have perfected the art of taking the guest experience to the next level, and fundamental to this is a focus on individual strengths and team fit.
At present, LH employs 10 experienced trainers who work with a broad spectrum of clients in different industries worldwide, running twice-yearly land-based courses in the Netherlands and in several marinas in the Caribbean and Europe. Bespoke courses take place all over the world on board superyachts, in maritime-related companies and in luxury residences, including palaces in the Middle East.
At the heart of all of LH’s training lies Talent Dynamics – a profile test which assesses personality, productivity, values and behaviour in order to identify an individual’s strengths and understand where they bring the most value to their team.
“Team dynamics are one of the most overlooked aspects of a business, yet it affects so much of how co-workers operate together,” says Peter. “If a team is out of sync, things happen slowly or not at all, accuracy levels decrease, absence increases, and motivation can be lacking.
“We use Talent Dynamics to help individuals play to their strengths and work ‘in flow’, improving job satisfaction and the overall performance of the team. If you can support crew in having great teams and having fun in what they do, retention rates will go up, the costs of ownership will go down and you will enhance the reputation of the yacht.”
LH 360 Degree Approach
Built on the belief that motivation to deliver is just as vital to creating the perfect guest experience as having the technical skills, Peter and his team have developed a full circle LH 360 approach to ensure every crew member is primed to perform to the max.
“Hospitality is all about the perfect guest experience and customer care is all about the perfect guest journey,” says Peter. “This requires a full circle approach that includes both technical knowledge and leadership skills. The LH 360 approach includes three pillars: Insight & Awareness, Training & Development and Professional Coaching & Mentoring.
“A highly-trained team, even experts in their field, will not deliver if they are unmotivated or simply do not get along. LH focuses on proactive behaviour during all their interactions and kick starts the process through discovery assessments, working out what makes a person unique.”
Identifying and nurturing the individual’s potential is key. “We bring people together and focus on their talents, not their challenges,” adds Erik. “We find that this motivates the teams we work with and allows everyone to recognise and appreciate the potential of their colleagues.”
Whether it’s being able to spot the signs of a teammate in difficulty, or simply knowing how to offer support, Insight is the first step towards developing a positive workplace culture. Focused on building an in-depth understanding of yourself and others, LH Insight helps teams to communicate more effectively, to bond and build trust.
“When you have a true understanding of yourself and others, acceptance and tolerance develops, communication skills are enhanced and there is more understanding of how we function, feel and operate as individuals,” says Head of Insight, Julia Rogers. “This awareness leads to strong team cohesion, utilising everyone's strengths and creating a team in ‘flow’.”
With crew wellbeing at the core, LH’s Insight trainers have developed an engaging online course to help crew take their people skills to a whole new level. Spanning four weeks, with two 2-hour sessions per week, the training is designed to develop awareness and emotional intelligence, enhancing leadership and management skills.
To sign up for Insight training at a special discounted rate, please click here.
Service skills and technical training
Interior crew are expected to be experts in flower arranging, sewing, silver service, bed making, laundry, caring for surfaces, decorating tables, cutting cigars and wine pairing, and that’s just the basics! How many know the difference between Russian service and French, or how different cultures signify that they have finished a meal? Delivering sophisticated, unobtrusive service to billionaires is in another league.
LH trainers are all experts in their fields, having worked at the sharp end on many of the most prestigious yachts afloat. Service Specialist, Beverage Specialist, Cigar Services and Housekeeping & Valet are just some of the technical training courses offered at the LH Academy, a luxury training facility based in the Netherlands. Training can also be delivered onsite or on board your yacht.
Forthcoming dates for shoreside Leadership and Service Specialist training are 12-16 October 2020.
Leadership Training & Coaching
The same philosophy underpins LH’s approach to leadership training, helping captains and heads of department to inspire their teams, build trust and enhance performance.
Over a course of eight weeks, LH’s online Personal Leadership program for all crew is designed to develop management and leadership skills based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, an approach first espoused by leadership guru Stephen R. Covey in 1989. Over the eight-week period, a weekly seminar will be available for participants to join to discuss and share their learning with other participants, guided by an experienced facilitator in the 7 Habits.
“Your personal performance and sustained success depend on your ability to effectively lead yourself, influence, engage and collaborate with others, and continually improve and renew your capabilities. This course is a fantastic opportunity to access world class material during these challenging periods of isolation,” says Martin Mainey, Head of Leadership and Coaching at LH.
“We are keen to support our clients with their specific challenges, and even more interested in teaching them how to avoid them.” says Peter. “And we see a real trend; more and more companies are investing in developing their human capital, embracing innovative ways to enhance team performance and impact the bottom line.”
To sign up for the Personal Leadership course at a discounted rate, please click here.
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