‘We want to turn the Russian hospitality into a brand!’
We could spend a lot of time talking about her ‘regalia’. Polina Prikhodko is a trainer, author of numerous training programs, member of the National Tourism Academy, author of the textbook called ‘Hotel Product Sales’ and a co-owner of the RUSOTELS.RU web-portal. Polina spent over 9 years working in the hotel business of Saint-Petersburg, in such well-known hotels as Corinthia Nevskij Palace Hotel (Corinthia Hotels International), Renaissance St.-Petersburg Baltic Hotel (Marriott), Eliseev Palace Hotel (The Leading Hotels of the World). Also, Polina Prikhodko has some experience of working as a Sales & Marketing Director. She leaned first hand how to start a sales department from the scratch, how to build sales channels and funnels, how to work with major international tour agencies.
During February 13 to 15, 2014, Polina Prikhodko will come to Yekaterinburg. She will hold two exclusive master classes for the Ural hoteliers within the framework of the exhibition HoReCa Expo Ural: ‘Sales in hotel business: the tool kit’ and ‘Training and development of the hotel personnel. How to recognize a client oriented employee and to make his/her communication skills perfect?’. These training sessions will be prepared by Polina specially for the Yekaterinburg exhibition. We had a change to speak with the well-known trainer on the eve of the event.
- Polina, good afternoon! We are happy that you have agreed to come to Yekaterinburg, to the specialized public catering and hotel exhibition HoReCa Expo Ural. As far as I know, you are preparing some unique master classes for hoteliers. Could you disclose what’s in store for our visitors? Which novelties will you share with them?
– Good afternoon, and best regards from Saint Petersburg! I’m happy to be invited to such a wonderful city, and I’ll be glad to participate in the exhibition. Indeed, my master classes have been developed specially for the HoReCa Expo Ural, and they are intended exclusively for the exhibition visitors.
At my training sessions and master classes I always speak about proven technologies only, about things I have tried myself.
As to the exhibition visitors, they can, of course, expect some practical cases, recipes, operation methods, so that, when they return from the exhibition, they would be able to apply in their everyday life all the knowledge acquired.
I think this is the only way of appraising efficiency of any training session and of any trainer.
– ‘Sales in hotel business: the tool kit’ – why did you choose this topic? How important is it currently for the hotel businesses? Is there anything new you can tell the Ural hoteliers?
I would like to share with the Ural hoteliers some ready-made techniques of customer attraction, tell them about some new or underestimated tools and methods of working with expected, actual and future customers. That’s why the training session is called the Tool Kit.
According to the statistics, currently in Saint Petersburg there are over 2,000 hotel facilities, including big, small and mini-hotels. No matter what they say about lack of hotel rooms, endless fight for customer is the everyday reality of any St.Petersburg hotelier, and that’s why every day we come up with something new – new methods, tricks and operation modes.
This is something that the Ural hoteliers have to face yet, and they should be well-prepared.
– I understand you are designing these master classes specially for visitors and exhibitors of the exhibition HoReCa Expo Ural. What experience do you draw upon when preparing your training sessions? What is the source of your knowledge?
– I have been in the hotel business since 2003, working my way from the most elementary positions all the way up to Managing Director of a hotel chain. I have never left the HoReCa industry, because I understood right away it was my call in life. You could say I am one of very few lucky people who work according to their speciality and enjoy their work.
In my hotel career, I’ve had most anything: starting from welcoming consuls and dignitaries, event management, organization of hotel presentations and establishing of an event pool oriented to the hotel brand, to participating in the parade dedicated to the City’s Day with the hotel’s flags and opening a hotel from the scratch, from repair to the first guest.
As I said before, I am only telling about the things I’ve tried myself – to be able to really take responsibility for my words
Also, I keep learning and attend a lot of training sessions and master classes. I don’t think I would ever stop doing that. That’s why I can say that apart from my own experience, I source knowledge from my colleagues.
I always follow the trends in the foreign hotel market, especially those related to sales methods and HR management. Therefore, I can say that I am collecting everything that may fit our Russian hotel market and translating it into the language of our reality, sharing whatever would work in Russia without fail.
My company EDU.RUSOTELS cooperates actively with the US Service Quality Institute and with John Tschohl, President of the Institute and the world-famous guru of customer service.
It was not by chance that we selected this partner: we are sure that the service oriented strategy is the way to success for the Russian hoteliers.
We in EDU.RUSOTELS adapt this strategy and all actions necessary for its implementation in accordance with the capacities of our domestic hoteliers.
As a matter of fact, I am going to speak about that, too, during the master classes at the HoReCa Expo Ural.
– Polina, you have trained hundreds of hoteliers, and have prepared a great number of training programs. With this in mind, can you tell us anything about overall development of the hotel business in Russia? Has it changed in any way over the last 10 years? What else are the Russian hoteliers missing in order to become the world’s best in the hospitality industry?
- My second master class is dedicated to training and development of the hotel personnel. If we speak about this issue, 10 years ago it was only the hoteliers of the major global chains that practiced training and implementation of operation standards on the same level which we have to master now.
Now this trend has reached the Russian chains and independent hotels. The Russian hoteliers understand that we could effectively compete with the Western chains, and I believe many of them realize already what they need to do for that.
As regards foreign chains, what they are doing now is ‘higher mathematics’ already – things like internal neuromarketing, and plenty of psychological work with the personnel. Those things work. But for us, here in Russia, it is important to start from the scratch and to lay a solid foundation. We will come to the stage of psychology, too.
As for the sales, it is not by chance that I have selected one more trendy topic; the time has come for our hoteliers to open their eyes wide and start freefalling in the space of hotel business.
I think what they need is more courage, creativity, fresh tendencies and ideas. The Western hoteliers are no longer afraid of anything, and they invent absolutely overwhelming ways of attracting customers to their hotels, creating and maintaining their corporate images.
Among our hoteliers, only a few are really trying to develop their sales and marketing spheres. This situation should be changed. Now there are more hotelier communities, where we can share our ideas and learn from each other; this is great. I am also happy to see that there are now more people at hotels that are really fit for working with people.
I think everything will be fine, and I will do my best to help the hoteliers in their work!
– And what about Yekaterinburg? What is the situation like in the hotel industry of the Ural capital?
– I think that if the Yekaterinburg hoteliers start implementing all the recent developments in the field of HR management and customer attraction to their hotels, if they start working according to the chosen strategy, Yekaterinburg has a good chance of becoming city a high quality level of hotel services.
If you ask whether our training company has a motto, it does one. We want to turn the Russian hospitality into a brand – just like the Swiss hospitality.
The Yekaterinburg hoteliers stand a good chance of supporting the Russian hospitality brand.
– Polina, and what is the most important aspect of your master classes for you? Which reward matters most to you?
– After training I always give my students a month to clarify everything they have failed to do during the training session, or to ask any questions they may have while implementing the methods I have been telling them about during the training session.
It is important for me to make sure that hoteliers do not just listen to me, but that they actually make some changes at their hotels. When an hotelier whom I have trained calls me and says, ‘Polina, we have tried this – it’s cool, it works, and customers like it’, or ‘customer flow has really increased, and we have made a contract with very good prospects thanks to the negotiation techniques you showed at the training session’ – this is my biggest reward. Then I understand what I do is really worthwhile.